IOP Institute of Physics

For physics • For physicists • For all

Why it pays to keep developing yourself

Those who think learning more or less stops when they finish full-time education should think again.

In today’s economy, we all face unprecedented change and uncertainty.  That’s why it’s vitally important that we keep on developing and adapting positively to a rapidly evolving environment.

Little wonder life-long learning and professional development is playing an increasingly important part in the working lives of career-minded physicists. As well as offering practical benefits, a structured continuous professional development (CPD) programme can be a real source of stimulation and enjoyment.

But what exactly constitutes continuous professional development?

Defining the process
CPD can perhaps best be defined as the systematic maintenance and broadening of the knowledge, skills and personal qualities needed in working life. 

Fundamentally, it involves setting a series of professional development goals and recording your progress towards reaching them.  Reflection is a big part of CPD.  That means analysing your experiences, good and bad, and thinking about what you’ve learned.  And CPD needs to be fully integrated into your working life; it’s not just an “add on” to be addressed once a year when you have your annual appraisal.

The benefits
There are many benefits to doing continuous professional development.  It can help you:

  • Present your achievements in the best possible light, and move up the career ladder
  • Stay competitive when it comes to looking for a new position
  • Cope with a fast-changing work environment
  • Boost your confidence and credibility
  • Impress future employers with a tangible commitment to life-long learning
  • Finally, CPD provides a new and exciting intellectual challenge, as you learn more about your career, your capabilities, and yourself.

To maximise your development and achieve those benefits, the IOP offer MyCareerPath free to members. MyCareerPath is an online too that allows you to record your career goals, plan activities that will help you reach them, and reflect on your progress. You can access MyCareerPath by going to ( and logging in. MyCareerPath will appear on the left hand side.

For many physicists, attaining chartered status is a key milestone in their professional development.  Getting chartered has many benefits for you and anyone seeking to hire you.

It also provides a framework for the holder to develop their career, new opportunities for networking with other highly accomplished physicists and added professional kudos.

To find out more about professional development, go to our CPD page here. We offer a comprehensive guide to what's involved in getting chartered too.

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