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23 Examples of Professional Development

 , December 18, 2019 updated on May 24, 2023
Professional development is the process of learning, developing talents and staying up-to-date with changes that impact your work. This is often a self-directed process whereby an employee is given the opportunity to pursue their professional development goals. Alternatively, professional development may be a mandatory program that is fully designed by an employer. The following are illustrative examples of professional development.


Professional training that is specific to your profession or that builds generalist skills.

Tests & Certification

Training or testing that certifies your competence in some area. In some cases, professional certifications require hundreds of hours of study, class time and work experience.


Education programs such as a university class or degree. For example, a software developer who joins a weekend MBA program with the support of their employer.

Conferences & Events

Events related to an industry, profession, technology or other aspect of your work. For example, a visual designer who attends design conferences and workshops.


Research that is part of your job tends to foster professional development. For example, a software architect who is responsible for reviewing and recommending technologies such that they are frequently researching technology platforms and approaches.


Reading or peer reviewing the work of leaders in your industry or domain such as a doctor who reads a number of medical journals each month.

Empathy Training

Training that is constructed to help employees experience what stakeholders such as customers go through. For example, empathy training that has customer service representatives act as a customer who needs to navigate a number of poor customer service practices.

Roles & Responsibilities

Having your role extended into new areas that are challenging or taking on new responsibilities such as a software developer who starts giving product demonstrations to customers.

Performance Objectives

Performance objectives that represent an extension of your professional experience. For example, a software developer who acts as a team lead to represent their team with stakeholders.

Job Rotation

The practice of changing jobs regularly or temporarily in order to experience new responsibilities. Job rotation is often done to prevent career stagnation or entrenchment whereby an employee becomes resistant to change.


Self-study such as a studying for a professional or industry certification.

Electronic Learning

Training that occurs in digital environments such as a video conference based system for one-on-one language lessons.


A charrette is an intensive design process. This is a means to complete design deliverables and is also a popular type of training for non-design professions to build design thinking skills.


Attending lectures or consuming them online. In many cases, employees with a sense of curiosity self-develop as they are constantly seeking out information.

Coaching & Mentoring

The process of helping others with their development and performance. This is often viewed as a professional development opportunity for both sides i.e. the mentor and the mentoree.


Improvisation is a specific type of activity that is known to shake people out of unimaginative repeated patterns of work and interaction. It involves socially creating a story with others whereby you can only build on top of ideas as opposed to tearing them down. As such, the person who goes before you can throw you a story twist that is difficult to add to. This tends to be fun and truly requires creativity.


Competitions such as games are commonly used as team building activities and may have value for professional development as well.


Simulations and serious games that give you experience dealing with professional situations before they occur in your actual career. For example, a flight simulator that gives pilots experiences with problems in flight.

Problem Solving

Problem solving such as a hackathon that produces working software to solve a problem.

Rote Learning

Rote learning is the process of memorizing things so that you can pass a test or certification.


Unlearning is the process of breaking the rules once you know a subject very well. In many cases, knowledge is designed to be accessible such that it omits the nuances that more advanced learners need. For example, high school students may be taught that nothing travels faster than the speed of light whereas astrophysicists will know this isn't exactly true.


The practice of pursuing the highest levels of achievement in a subject such that you intensely practice and don't move on until you have perfected an area. For example, an artist who pursues an artistic vision with such passion that they eventually surpass their peers.

Direct Experience

Learning by directly experiencing what you are trying to learn. For example, learning to deal with angry customers by dealing with angry customers.
Overview: Professional Development Examples
The process of learning, developing talents and staying up-to-date with changes that impact your work.
Related Concepts
More about profession development:
Direct Experience
Empathy Training
Knowledge Of Performance
Knowledge Of Results
Knowledge Transfer
Management Training
On The Job Training
Peak Experiences
Professional Goals
Professional Growth
Professional Plan
Rote Learning
Silent Goal
Work Transition Plan
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