How to Make a Professional Development Plan in a Few Easy Steps


In today’s evolving job market, investing in your professional development is key

Today’s job market is quickly evolving and the number of new jobs is growing every day. It’s expected that by 2026, 140,000 new engineering jobs will be added to the economy. That doesn’t even take into account the alarming 20% of engineers who are 55+ and will be leaving the workforce over the course of the next decade. In fact, there’s already a shortage of new hires. An average of 12,500 mechanical engineering jobs are posted each month, but only about 75% of them are filled. For industrial engineering roles, only 31% are filled. Why does this matter to you? Shouldn’t plenty of open jobs be a good thing? Yes, it is a good thing! However, as the demand for workers continues to grow, having the necessary skills to fill the open roles will take more than luck. The good news is that you can prepare yourself for this future by investing in your professional engineering development.

What is professional development?

Professional development is the commitment to continuous improvement in your career or professional life. It requires thoughtful planning, clearly communicated goals, and actionable steps to reach those goals. Investing in your professional development can increase your skill set, expand job opportunities, and help you earn a higher salary. Keep in mind, professional development doesn’t always mean climbing the ladder at one organization. Maybe you’re more interested in becoming proficient in a new industry or increasing your efficiency in a new software or technology — and that’s OK. The road to your professional engineering development is up to you. Here are some examples of professional development goals. You could:

  • Earn a degree
  • Achieve a certification
  • Take an online course
  • Watch online video tutorials
  • Attend classroom training
  • Participate in a conference or seminar
  • Be a mentor or mentee
  • Take part in a local networking or user group
  • Read a book on a work-related topic

Why is professional development important?

Professional development is important for many reasons. It encourages you to think about what you want out of your career so you can stay engaged and reap the personal and professional benefits that come from committing to learning. Five reasons why professional development is important:

  1. Boosts your confidence and morale
  2. Keeps you up-to-date by learning new skills
  3. Increases your engagement and overall happiness at work
  4. Gives you the opportunity to get promoted, switch roles, and earn more money
  5. Allows you to explore topics you’re interested in that may be outside your job description

More than half (54%) of working adults say they need training and they need to develop new skills in order to keep up with changes at work. And 72% of working adults say the responsibility falls on them to make sure that they have the right skills and education to be successful in today’s economy. So, if you want to invest in your professional development, it’s time to get started on making a professional development plan.

How to make a professional development plan

If you’re interested in making your own professional development plan, we’ve put together a few easy steps for you to follow — because planning for your professional future shouldn’t be complicated.

  1. List your goals
  2. List your micro-goals
  3. Create an action plan
  4. Determine the timing (cadence and due dates)
  5. Reach your goal and set a new one

Tip: Download our free Professional Development Roadmap Workbook to get going on your own plan today! Is one of your goals to earn a promotion? We can help with that, too. Download our free Design Engineer’s Guide to Getting a Promotion to access 10 effective ways to earn a promotion.

Madie Norris Forcier
About the Author

SolidProfessor content writer and self-appointed World’s Greatest Dog Mom