Continuing Professional Development (CPD), is learning, skills and knowledge development which relates to a particular career path. As such, CPD is something that professionals across all industries use to help progress their careers, further their skills and expertise and crucially, to stay updated on innovations and trends in their relevant industry. Incorporating CPD into career development helps all individuals to demonstrate the best possible professional knowledge and practice.
As such, CPD is vital in any sector – including event management. In fact, CPD in event management can prove to be the difference between merely ‘working’ in events and having a successful and flourishing event management career because where an events career is concerned, CPD can prove vital for demonstrating that professional practice meets the Institute of Event Management’s recently approved National Occupational Standards in Event Management.
Continuing Professional Development
Understanding how CPD supports your career is easier if you consider how each element of it applies to what you do in events:
- Continuing – this refers to the fact that your professional development should be ongoing and part of each event management role you undertake, to help keep your thinking fresh and your career motivated rather than stagnant.
- Professional – training should benefit your knowledge and practice across and and every professional aspect of the role: from customer-facing practice to background organisation and legal requirements, such as risk assessment and safety legislation.
- Development – literally, CPD aims to be the tools which help you develop your career from any point, perhaps moving into a management role from event assisting or apprenticeship. Development in CPD can also include identifying an aspect of event management and professional interest, such as budgeting or promotions and developing or extending competencies and confidence to bring you a level of expertise and so develop a career path within a specific events area.
As such, the right CPD can certainly increase your chances of success in event management, but it can sometimes be hard to identify the right course to suit your professional aspirations and personal interests. So, what should you consider when choosing a CPD course in event management?
1) Creating Personal Definitions
Having aspirations is important, but where CPD is concerned, being able to define your aspirations to fit in with personal (as well as professional) requirements is essential when it comes to choosing the right course. Perhaps your aspirations include obtaining an event management degree, but if you cannot study full-time because you need to earn at the same time? Then define the aspiration alongside this need, perhaps by identifying a part time vocational degree course, rather than traditional university studying.
To help create personal definitions around your aspirations, ask yourself what it is you actually want going forwards – both for short term training or skill development and long-term career prospects. Ask yourself key questions, such as:
- Why you want to study (a) at all (b) a particular aspect / course?
- Who is this really for, yourself or someone else (such as your employer)?
- What you hope to gain? Skills, practical experience and knowledge, theoretical understanding?
- What interests you?
- Where would you like to study?
- When can you dedicate time for study, to fulfil this aspiration? Full time, part time, an online course? Remember that some courses can take less time than a university degree course, so investigate these options too.
- How you’ll use the qualification? Be realistic not just about what you need now, but also for the future. For example, if you want to work for a specific company or become a reputable freelancer, you may need to find a course provider who offers a respected accreditation.
- What kind of assessment route will allow you to demonstrate your success… exams, modular assessment etc?
2) Course-Potential Discovery
Your answers to the above questions will help you when researching the most appropriate course for your needs and in discovering whether a prospective course offers potential for supporting and benefiting your aspirations. Most course providers offer extensive information and welcome enquiries about their courses, so the minimum you should try to discover is:
- How is the course assessed? A single method, such as exams, modular tests and assignments or practical assessments, or does the overall assessment route include aspects of all of these?
- How is the course delivered? Does the course run in an online or through face-to-face, group teaching, or a combination of these. Remember that group and in-person learning could also take place in a variety of ways, such as being classroom based, experiential through a work placement, volunteering and through on-site observations and training at specific events locations.
- Does the overall course match to your own requirements? Consider the delivery of the learning content, teaching and assessment methods used alongside…
- Does the course include accreditation? Accreditations carry weight which demonstrates that knowledge is to a given professional standard and offers value to potential employers, ie: the Chartered Institute of Marketing accreditation receives a high level of respect and recognition in the events industry.
- What wider opportunities does the course offer, aside from the learning and qualification? For example, Event Academy qualification routes include:
○ work placements which can lead to a ready network of contacts, useful when you’re ready to change roles.
○ additional volunteering and work experience facilitate portfolio building, allowing you to showcase skills and breadth of experience.
Researching courses carefully means you should be able to discover your ‘best-fit’ course. However, as ‘best-fit’ usually involves some compromise, it’s useful to recognise that the main areas not to compromise on include:
- Your interests – if you’re not actually interested in the majority of the course content or format for delivery, then you’re unlikely to be motivated to complete it successfully.
- The quality of the course – a compromise here is not just unrealistic, it’s also not cost-effective in achieving value for your money, so this is the point to ask yourself:
3) Can Providers Deliver?
To find out if potential providers are right for delivering the best event management course for you, reflect back on your own motivation and aspirations for CPD and ask yourself whether your chosen providers respond to these. For example, will a course from that particular provider deliver:
- Formal and fully accredited recognition of learning and experience?
- Wider career opportunities, such as a move up the career ladder or pay scale?
- Recognised routes that can take you from being a general practitioner to area of specific expertise, such as training others or consultation?
Any potential course providers should be able to demonstrate that they support and share your aims and aspirations – both in the short-term (taking the course and student support) and the long-term (career days, future CPD, and career aspirations). A recognised industry provider offering accredited courses will help to take you to where you want to be, so do check the credentials and reputation of the provider.
4) Correct Professional Decisions
You should now be able to identify your ‘best-fit’ of both courses and providers in your quest to fulfil CPD aspirations and needs, including meeting professional event management standards.
Your final decision-making check is to see whether the provider is proactive in developing appropriate courses and CPD opportunities as, in a fast-paced industry such as events, providers will need to create CPD courses which meet industry needs. As such, if a provider demonstrates that they are abreast of industry trends and developments, then this can also help you to decide if they offer the right CPD event management courses for you. Read more about choosing the right CPD event management course on Event Academy.
Written by Justine Kane
Justine has spent the past 5 years as Course Director for an event management training Institute, placing hundreds of graduates into roles and tutoring them through to successful qualification.