career pathways diagram
Guidance on maintaining your CPhys
One of the objectives of the Institute of Physics’ (IOP) Royal Charter is to establish, uphold and advance the standards of qualification, competence and conduct of those who practice physics. The IOP performs this duty via its registers, which includes Chartered Physicist (CPhys).

CPhys is exclusive to the IOP. It represents the highest standards of professionalism, up-to-date expertise, quality and safety, and for capacity to undertake independent practice and exercise leadership. As well as competence, CPhys status denotes commitment to keep pace with advancing knowledge and with the increasing expectations society has of professionals.

We work to ensure the integrity of CPhys by ensuring that all holders are professionally active and are able to demonstrate the ongoing development of their skills and competences through their CPD record when requested to do so. 

What is the definition of being professionally active?

In order to be classified as ‘professionally active’ you must be using your physics knowledge and applying it in some way. This can include full- or part-time employment and also applies to members who are notionally retired but are involved in volunteering and/or still carry out some consultancy work. We are flexible in the interpretation of the type of activities that constitute being professionally active, but can advise that if you are carrying out activities to keep your professional knowledge up-to-date and are applying that knowledge to the benefit of others, then you are professionally active. This applies to all IOP members working across a broad range of sectors. 

If you are not using your knowledge professionally and/or to benefit others, then you are no longer professionally active and are therefore no longer able to maintain your CPhys status.

What is CPD?

CPD stands for continuing professional development and is a term used by professional bodies to describe the process of keeping your professional knowledge up-to-date. It can cover many different areas, for example:

  • work-based learning
  • formal learning such as gaining a qualification, attending conferences or workshops
  • professional body activities such as volunteering to assess applications, sitting on committees, attending branch meetings
  • outreach such as mentoring or working with schools
  • personal learning such as reading journals or writing articles or research papers

This list isn’t exhaustive, and there are many things which can be deemed as CPD. It isn’t dependent on hours or points; its value comes from what you have gained from carrying out a particular activity. 

Reflecting on your CPD is the most important element of the process and helps you to identify any future learning that might benefit you and others.

What is a CPD record and can my CV be used as a record?

A CPD record is a document where you detail and keep track of your professional development and the activities you’ve undertaken. A CV is great and helps to add context to your CPD record, but for the purpose of the CPD audit, you will need to submit both your CV and your CPD record.

What does the CPhys audit mean for me?

The audit process will start in January 2020. Within your CPD return we would expect to see that you have regularly engaged with a range of CPD activities over the course of a year. 

Each CPD return will be reviewed by a panel of trained reviewers assembled by the IOP’s Membership team from the CPhys assessment panel. If resubmission is required registrants will be given feedback on what improvements to make and when to resubmit. Consistent failure to provide an acceptable return will result in removal from the CPhys register, which will help to ensure the kite mark of quality and standards of professional development associated with CPhys.

We will send out more detailed guidance later in the year with regards to the audit. This will include advice on the criteria you will be assessed against.

I am on a career break, so what does this mean for me?

A break, in practice, can include maternity/paternity/adoption leave, ill-health, a sabbatical or a career break, which can include changing sector or taking time out of work to care for a dependant. However, we will consider circumstances that may fall outside of the above on a case by case basis. 

Members selected for audit whilst not currently professionally active, can request an exemption and will not be required to submit a return.

When you return to work or consider yourself to be professionally active again, you will need to let us know so that we can update your record. You will then have one year to build up your CPD, following which you will be asked to submit a CPD record. A career break or a break from practice can be up to three years, after which you will be asked to submit a CPD record. Three years is currently the standard period of time that is stipulated by several professional and regulatory bodies. 

I no longer work in a physics role, so can I keep my CPhys?

Some CPhys holders may no longer be in a role that involves them carrying out physics-based tasks on a daily basis. However, this does not mean they are not using their physics knowledge and applying it to their role. For example, you may be managing a group of physicists and applying your knowledge to help them as a team. Your CPD activities should be focused on what your current role is. Your CPD is personal to you and a reflection of the role you are currently undertaking. This is why we ask for a CV to be submitted along with your CPD record. Your CV provides context to your CPD and helps assessors understand how your activities are relevant to your professional development.

If you are retired but still providing advice and/or a consultancy service, for example, to a company that sits outside of physics, then the same principle applies. You will still be using your physics knowledge and applying it and therefore you are professionally active.

If I lose my CPhys registration will I also lose my IOP membership?

If you let us know that you are no longer professionally active we will remove you from the CPhys register at the point of your next renewal. You will not be removed from membership and you will continue at your current grade of membership.