Vocational Qualifications and Continuous Professional Development

What are they and why do we need them?

Vocational qualifications

Vocational qualifications are practical qualifications that relate to a specific job or career sector. Unlike more academic courses they combine a mix of theory and practical learning with possibly some work experience too. The term ‘vocational’ means ‘work-related’. So, if you are doing a vocational
qualification it means you are learning skills that will help you to get, and
do, a specific type of job.

There are a wide range of different courses that you can do providing many types of qualifications, from entry level to advanced.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) refers to the process of tracking and documenting the skills, knowledge and experience that you gain both formally and informally as you work, beyond any initial training.

CPD is important because it helps ensure you continue to be competent in your profession. It is an ongoing process and continues throughout your career to help further develop yourself and your consequently, your business e.g. taking on additional staff, offering additional services etc.

Examples of activities that contribute to professional growth and development:

Continuing education

Enrolment in formal degree programs, courses, or workshops

Pursuing certificates, accreditations or other credentials through educational programs

Participation in professional organizations

Attending local, regional, national, and international meetings, conferences and workshops sponsored by professional organizations

Presenting papers at conferences and workshops

Serving as an officer, board member, or committee member

Coordinating events sponsored by the organization

Improve job performance

Keeping up with technology, systems, processes

Learning about new developments in your field e.g. equipment, first aid, training etc..

Improving existing skills

Increased duties and responsibilities

Taking on new challenges in current position, projects, long or short-term assignments.


Most training courses do come at a cost so we need to consider whether we would get value for our money.

The cost of an industry related training course is tax deductible which means it is calculated on our gross income, not the profit.

Depending on your personal circumstances there may be grants, bursaries and low interest loans available for training courses. The .gov website, your local authority or local business gateway should be able to provide more information.

Why should I study a vocational course?

As professional dog walkers we are responsible for more than just the physical exercise of our clients’ dogs.

We are striving to set and maintain industry standards by implementing professional and ethical values within an unregulated industry. Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 we are recognised as a guardian and legally responsible for every dog whilst they are in our care. We are responsible for their emotional, physical and psychological health and wellbeing as well as adhering to other current legislation.

Dogs are sentient creatures who are equipped with a sharp set of weaponry. Many of us live in highly dog populated areas so we do need to be able to read canine body language and behaviour well to keep our charges happy and safe.

With all this in mind, we believe becoming accredited sets a good example of our dedication to gain as much theoretic knowledge and practical skills so that we can be as competent as possible in our jobs.

Most courses include an assessment and on successful completion a certificate will be issued which gives prospective clients confidence in your ability to care for their dogs. Some providers may also provide permission to use their logo for marketing purposes.

Working experience is wonderful and a great educator, however CPD can open us up to new science based and tested knowledge as well as new skills. Professional dog walking essentially requires us to work on preparation, prevention and protection rather than unfortunate incidents.

The cost may seem prohibitive, but we think of it as a sound investment. If you break the cost down and save for it over a year it could equate to a few pounds a month and ultimately, this cost can be set against your business for income tax purposes.

Professional Dog Walkers Association Members Benefits Programme – Training Courses

Our members benefits programme provides members with discounts on industry related courses with leading course providers including:


Compass Education

Pet Industry Federation

Centre of Excellence Online

For further information on how to join, visit our website:


Thank you for reading.

Created by
Professional Dog Walkers Association, 02/06/2019, Copyright 2019