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Professionals are constantly trying to keep up with an ever-expanding skillset required to be able to do their job effectively. Similarly, businesses and organisations need to train and re-train their staff in order to remain competitive and productive. In today’s ever-changing financial and technological landscape, to not get constantly trained as a professional is equivalent to remaining stagnant and simply waiting to be replaced. That’s something one simply cannot afford to let happen.

Training and re-training of professionals has been systematized for decades through frameworks for Continuing Professional Education/Development (CPE/CPD). Within a corporate setting, apart from having a specific set of skills to do the job, employees need also to adhere to certain internal standards and policies, hence additional Compliance training is also required.

What has changed in recent years, though, is the use of Online Courses as the most economical and accessible option for training people. In this respect, e-learning can be revolutionary, ensuring the capacity of an individual or of an organisation to adapt and grow. If you are a professional trainer, there is a huge opportunity here for offering your training either to individual professionals and/or the workforce of businesses.

So let us walk you through the various concepts and terms of professional and compliance training and help you identify opportunities for growining your business.

The difference between CPE & CPD

CPE and CPD are closely related acronyms for continuing professional education and continuing professional development, respectively. While they are sometimes used for similar educational programs, CPE generally refers to professional education for employees who are required to keep up with current knowledge in their fields and re-certify their licenses; while CPD refers to changing professional standards, knowledge and increasing one’s work-related capabilities.

Both of those fall under the broader umbrella of compliance training, which refers to the process of educating employees on laws, regulations and company policies that apply to their day-to-day job responsibilities.

Compliance training may also refer to a wide range of topics. Here is a non-exclusive list:

What is CPE?

CPE stands for ‘Continuing Professional Education’ and is a framework for the acquisition of knowledge and skills in a professional context. CPE training helps professionals become more competent and effective in their careers and offers the opportunity to learners to keep up with the changes in their field, to fill the gaps in their knowledge and be able to move on to the next level. Most of the times, professionals are required to attend a series of seminars, complete a course, or carry out some field-specific work to get the CPE credits and be able to practice their profession.

CPE credits are the credits you can earn from completing CPE training. In most cases 1 credit corresponds to 50 minutes of training, which can be delivered as video, a certain amount text, presentations, live teaching, or combinations of the above. In most cases, a final exam is required to ascertain that the professional has successfully acquired the necessary skills.

The bottom line is that CPE credits measure the knowledge that a professional needs to accumulate, in terms of work-related learning activities, demonstrating that he/she is up-to-date with current developments in the profession or industry. The amount of credit that a certain professional needs to earn is determined by various governmental-, state- or professional bodies and associations (read below for more information on how a course gets accredited). Also bear in mind that in most cases those credits need to be renewed every single year in order to maintain ones certification, license or membership in a professional body.

There are many activities that qualify for CPE credits including the following:

Obviously, delivering the training online is the most cost-effective way and, with the proper platform, it can even be an overall more effective and enjoyable experience.

What is CPD?

CPD which stands for Continuing Professional Development refers to the practice which learners take on to become more competent and effective professionals. This is possible through training and the completion of learning requirements that help to increase confidence, capability, and overall career aspirations.

Same as with CPE, CPD professionals learn how to adapt positively and with more flexibility to changes in work/industry requirements.

There are many activities that qualify for CPD credits that are different to CPE, including the following:

In most cases, when CPE or CPD requirements have been met, a Certificate is awarded to the students, and they can use it to either advance in their profession e.g. get a higher position or pursue their desired career path.

What is accreditation and why is it important?

Accreditation is a process of external quality review by an authority on the subject, such as a governmental, semi-governmental or professional association and union, which can operate at a local, state, national or even global level.

In simple terms, accreditation is a system of recognition and quality assurance for institutions and programs. A course becoming accredited means that it gets checked by the certifying body and is awarded a certain number of CPE credits. Accumulation of CPE/CPD credits can be used for renewing a professional license or achieving a new professional certification and count towards promotions in certain organisations. The training related to the credits has to be accredited and be compliant under an authority which certifies organizations to provide such training.

For students:
As an online instructor your job is to provide the necessary learning material that will give them the knowledge and experience they need to move forward. In a way, accreditation becomes a career enhancement tool that offers your students the right equipment to do great in their professional lives.

For employers:
A CPE course may prove to be very beneficial to employers, who then may consider investing in your students professional development training, considering it as an employee benefit. If that’s the case, they may pay for the entire CPE course, or they may pay a portion. CPE courses can cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars/pounds, depending on the subject.

For you:

Obviously, you don’t have to gain accreditation for your online course because this isn’t necessary, but it can help to increase your visibility and overall value. Getting your courses accredited means that you have to jump through some hoops but it is feasible, and it helps you to differentiate your courses – and to extend your whole school – from the competition. Also, it gives you an excuse to add a premium price tag to it.

How to Get a Training Course Accredited

In the US, Canada, UK, and most other countries, if you want your course to carry weight and be tied to a profession it needs accreditation by a sanctioning/accrediting body. This applies to industries and professions that require evidence of interest in lifelong learning and continuous professional development.

In this article, we provide examples from the US accreditation bodies. However, every country uses a different system of accreditation. If you want to offer a CPE/CPD accreditation, you should be looking at local authorities relating to your subject matter. Those are usually government authorities providing certifications and licenses for different professions or professional bodies such as associations and unions.

Let’s go through the steps that gets your course accredited:

STEP 1: Before you are able to offer a CPE course training, it’s a good idea to research the organizational body that will be providing the credits and make sure that those credits can count towards the required professional education and that they are accredited by the state in the area/region you are or your students are based.

STEP 2: Check various institutions that offer accredited online courses in your subject/field. Talking with them can help to see whether you can provide accreditation and check out what kind of criteria they have in place. This should help you decide if you can position your course in their list of accredited programs and start offering CPE credits and certification.

Here is a list of organizations you can communicate with as a starting point (for the US):
Community for Accredited Schools Online
Association for Training & Development

STEP 3: Once you get your course accredited, make sure to let students know how much time you require from them before they enrol. Some CPE courses require that students spend a certain amount of time watching videos, doing online/offline activities or passing some type of examination.

Be aware that the U.S. government does not regulate accreditation and instead, appoints the U.S. Secretary of Education to recognize the agencies that are believed to be reliable authorities on accreditation. Then it lists these agencies on the US Department of Education’s website. Once your school is recognised by agencies on this list, it means you are in and you are ready to offer accreditation that is legitimate.

If you or your students are not based in the U.S., your school then needs to become accredited by an agency that is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or the United States Department of Education (USDE). Here is a list of CHEA and USDE-Recognized Accrediting Organizations along with the CHEA recognition policy and procedure.

Example for an Accountancy Accreditation

In the US, for a course to be accredited it has to be tied to a profession, and that profession often has a sanctioning body. For example, Certified public accountants (CPAs) be registered with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) as a CPE sponsor on the National Registry of CPE Sponsors. Then the courses offered by this training organization are assigned a number of CPE credits according to the standards established by NASBA.

The largest such organization is the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, which is the national professional organization of CPAs in the United States, with more than 418,000 members in 143 countries. AICPA develops and grades the Uniform CPA Examination.

Each US state’s Board of Accountancy governs the number of CPE credits required and the type of credit earned. A CPE credit is granted to successful candidates of the program for every fifty minutes of instruction received.

CPE credits for the United States can be awarded via online courses, seminars, industry conventions, webinars, telephone conferences and self-study following the provisions of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Policies & Guidelines 2015. The most economical and accessible option is increasingly via online courses and webinars. Industry conventions can run into hundreds of dollars. Travel, accommodations and meals add substantially to the cost.

What Kinds of Courses can be Accredited?

Some fields are more demanding than others and require that you undergo additional experience and regular training to keep up with the demands of the industry.

Amongst the most popular are the following:

As an online instructor, you can offer certificates with your course. However, these aren’t necessarily accredited unless they are recognised by a founding professional body that is responsible for certifying people in a certain field.

To get a course accredited for the learning and be able to offer CPE credits when based in the UK, you need to visit ASIC.

In the UK:
ASIC (Accreditation Service for International Schools, Colleges and Universities)

ASIC Accreditation of online, distance, e-learning or blended institutions is a voluntary, nongovernmental process that gives recognition to institutions that meet established quality standards.

ASIC is a voluntary, nongovernmental process that gives recognition to institutions that meet established quality standards. The purpose of accreditation is to assure the public, students, parents and other stakeholders as to the quality of an institution and its commitment to high standards through a system of continuous improvement.

It is probable that your institution is already accredited within your own country, however, ASIC accreditation confirms your commitment to internationalization and in particular your commitment to supplying exemplary services to international students.

Choosing an LMS for Online CPE/CPD Training

Moving online from traditional CPE/CPD training, you will need to look for a modern, reliable and easy-to-use LMS. LearnWorlds is a cloud LMS suitable for experienced trainers without any need for technical expertise to setup or maintain. You can easily build your website, upload your material and start selling online training from your own domain.

What you are going to need for accredited online training:

All those are provided with LearnWorlds, along with a built-in community, interactive Video, SCORM compliant and everything else you will need to create and deliver online compliance training to your employees or customers.

Whether you are providing internal compliance training or selling CPE/CPD training to corporations, LearnWorlds is the right solution for you. Start your 30-day free trial today to evaluate the platform or contact us to discuss your project.

Create a beautiful online school without any technical skills.
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Growth Marketer at

Nick Malekos is the head Growth Marketer of LearnWorlds. He is a results based and well-rounded Digital Marketer with years of experience in the education industry that doubles as a youth trainer and volunteers’ coordinator in his free time.

Content Creator at

Kyriaki is a Content Creator for the LearnWorlds team with more than three years of experience in digital marketing. Graduated from the University of Huddersfield with a Guidance degree, she has equipped herself with hands-on experience in education management and career guidance.

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