A beginners guide to professional development

Careers Advice
18 November 2014 | Careers Advice | thomas thomas

So you’ve graduated and secured an engineering job? Brilliant! But you can’t afford to get complacent. Even though you’ve found a company and a role that you like, you still need a strategy for moving forward...

It’s hugely important to keep current so that you have the knowledge base to adapt to changes in technology and procedures, and you may need to demonstrate additional experience and training in a certain area in order to secure the job you want in the future.

The process of building a successful and lasting career in engineering takes place through networking, on-the-job training and ‘professional development’. Professional development helps to maintain and enhance knowledge and skills – improving performance, confidence and career prospects.

Professional development can be separated into two distinct phases:


Initial Professional Development (IPD)

The Institution of Structural Engineers describes IPD as “the acquisition and development of specialist knowledge and skills – and their practical application – that are needed to practise as a structural engineer. It bridges the gap a student’s educational base and attaining professional qualifications.

The Institution describes IPD in terms of a group of core objectives that are arranged in three sections:

  1. Personal:
    Effective communication and interpersonal skills, leadership and professional commitment
  2. Engineering:
    Identification and solution of engineering problems and the safe, economic and sustainable implementation of the solutions
  3. Management and commercial:
    Efficient procurement and management of resources within economic, environmental and regulatory constraints to achieve the engineering objectives.

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers states that IPD is a key component of the requirement for registration as a Chartered or Incorporated Engineer.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

CPD is a fundamental part of any career in engineering. Undertaking CPD is a commitment to enhancing skills and capability throughout your professional career.

CPD can be achieved formally through attending courses, training programmes or lectures, or informally by learning from colleagues, practical experience, project specific research, IT skills development or reading journals / technical papers.

CPD is entirely personal to each individual. It will be unique to you depending on your role, career stage and development goals. When planning your CPD, you should define your goals, thinking about what you want to achieve both short-term and long-term. Set achievable objectives with a measure of success and a target date.

Recording your CPD activities is beneficial in a number of ways. It will aid reviewing and reflection, provide information for potential employers and provide evidence of competence.

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