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Professional development often refers to verbal and tactile skills required for maintaining a specific career path or to general skills offered through continuing education, including the more general skills area of personal development. It can be seen as training to keep current with changing technology and practices in a profession or in the concept of lifelong learning. Developing and implementing a program of professional development is often a function of the human resources or organization development department of a large corporation or institution.


In a broad sense professional development may include formal types of vocational education, typically post-secondary or polytechnical training leading to qualification or a credential required to get or retain employment. Informal or individualized programs of professional development may also include the concept of personal coaching.

Professional development on the job may develop or enhance process skills, sometimes referred to as leadership skills, as well as task skills. Some examples for process skills are 'effectiveness skills', 'team functioning skills', and 'systems thinking skills'. Some examples of task skills are computer software applications, customer service skills and safety training.

Examples of skills relevant to a current occupation are leadership training for managers and training for specific techniques or equipment for educators, psychologists and medical practitioners. For some occupations there is a provision for accreditation tied to "continuing professional education" and proving competence regulated by a professional body.

Professional development in health care involves developing workers’ knowledge, skills and attitudes in order to ensure that they can work confidently and effectively. This includes providing training, mentoring and supervision opportunities, as well as creating and maintaining organisational structures which support both individual and team performance. Proactive professional development ensures the creation of a learning culture in the workplace, increasing individual and team competence, confidence and morale, thus resulting in a more effective health care service.

One form of professional development is customer training. Customer training is an after sales service aiming to guarantee proper usage of the equipment, system or technology delivered by a firm. Customer training is often categorized under Value-added service activities, yet it is commonly considered also as an obligation. Customer training is needed for example when a company delivers a modern paper machine to factory to replace an old one. To guarantee the full functionality of the delivery, the company has to deliver required skills and competence for the customer's site managers and operators.

Specific requirements in the United States

In the United States, many states have professional development requirements for school teachers pre-kindergarten through grade 12. For example, in New Jersey, state regulations mandate that all active teachers and educational services personnel in New Jersey complete 100 hours of professional development every five years, consistent with the New Jersey Professional Development Standards. In the state of Florida, instructional personnel must earn 120 inservice hours or 2 college courses every 5 years in each area of certification. Professional development standards are becoming a legislated mandate in a number of states in the USA. In the state of Florida, each district is reviewed every three years to ensure that professional development meets standards in the areas of planning, delivery, follow-up and evaluation.

The legal profession in the United States and some other countries has professional development requirements as well.

See also

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