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What's the point of Continuing Professional Development?

July 27, 2016

What's the point of Continuing Professional Development?


Deadlines are looming, there aren't enough hours in the day, and that crucial word which will unlock the translation you're working on is still eluding you several cups of coffee later. You don't have time for CPD. Or do you?



Two things strike me about CPD: it keeps you ahead of the game and it's interesting! Unless you're doing it wrong.


The aim of CPD is to make sure you keep up with developments in your industry; for translators, this also means keeping up with developments in your fields of specialisation. The Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) recommends that its members complete 30 hours of CPD per year, and for many other professional organisations there is a compulsory, or at least recommended, requirement. Keeping up-to-date with your industry can only be a good thing as we all strive to provide the best possible service to our clients.


From a personal point of view too there are enormous benefits. For a variety of reasons our school days are the best days of our lives. That isn't just because we spend a lot of time in the playground: it's also because we are constantly learning, challenging our brains, encountering new ideas. Indeed, there is some evidence to suggest that rates of dementia are lower in people who remain as mentally active as possible throughout their lives and learning a foreign language is listed on the NHS Choices website as a possible way of reducing your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease or another type of dementia. Approached properly, CPD can help us do this too.



The Internet has brought us many new opportunities to develop our skills and learn new things – from online tutorials and webinars to complete online courses leading to qualifications. Many courses are available for free or at very low cost. It is also easy to access specialist publications online, and there is no shortage of experts in every subject area waiting to answer questions if you make the effort to engage with the specialist community in your field via forums or social media.


Offline, you could consider subscribing to (and reading!) industry publications. Magazines issued by professional organisations can be a great way to learn about new developments while also engaging with the professional community and discovering events to go to for learning or networking (or both). While events such as seminars, conferences and networking opportunities can take more time than other types of CPD, they can also have some particular benefits: the chance to talk to other professionals in your industry, to learn from each other, and to immerse yourself in a constructive and supportive learning atmosphere.


There is an almost endless variety of ways in which to complete your CPD depending on your industry and personal preferences. It is particularly helpful to take a structured approach to CPD to ensure you make the time: plan when you’re going to do, and record it once you have done it. This will make sure that you keep the time free for it and keep track of what you have learnt. Some professional organisations, such as the ITI, will provide a certificate for you to print out once you have met your CPD target for the year – this is a great way to show your clients that you care about providing them with the best service possible.


At the end of the day, we are responsible for our own careers and for making the most of the opportunities available to us – use CPD to help you do that. Seize the day!


Useful websites for CPD

  • eCPD (a company offering online training and online webinars for translators, interpreters and other professional linguists):

  • Coursera (an education platform that partners with universities and organizations worldwide to offer courses online for anyone to take – these are generally free to take):

  • FutureLearn (a private company wholly owned by The Open University offering a selection of free courses from universities and cultural institutions from around the world):

  • Chartered Institute of Linguists (offers courses for linguists in a variety of specialisations):


References and further reading






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