What are the Different Types of Professional Development Services?

Carol Francois
Carol Francois
Businessman with a briefcase
Businessman with a briefcase

There are three different types of professional development services: skills assessment, needs assessment, and implementation of a customized training program. All these services are typically offered by firms that specialize in professional development. This term is used to define education and training programs aimed at people who have already completed a post-secondary training program. The services firm can be engaged by either a company on behalf of its employees, professional associations on behalf of their members, or by individuals looking for professional career services.

Professional development is a type of training completed throughout the length of a career. In all fields, there are changes in technology, technique, or theory over time. Researchers are continually working to expand their knowledge within their field of study, and this is a driving factor behind a lot of change. As a result, people working in the field or industry must complete additional training to keep their skills up to date. This is true for every profession from baker to doctor.

The primary product offered by professional development services is a skills assessment. This type of work is typically completed by a career counselor, or someone who has completed a training program in psychological profiles. An assessment of the current skill set and level of proficiency is a very important part of professional development services. Providing each candidate with a list of his or her current skill sets and ranking helps to prioritize the types of training required to keep skills current.

A needs assessment is usually completed by a researcher or statistician, as this type of assessment focuses on what is required by employers. For example, a needs assessment program for nurses will determine if there is a decline in the need for obstetrical nurses, but an increase in palliative care. This information is essential when designing a professional development service plan, as it provides both direction and a tangible return on investment.

The professional development services firm will create a training plan, based on the specific needs and requirements of the client. This may vary, depending on whom the client is, the total budget, and the primary motivating factors. For example, someone who is using this type of service for her own career management will have a different training plan than a hospital who has hired the service to manage the career transition for people whose positions have been eliminated. The motivation and target end result are quite different.

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Discussion Comments


@Cafe41 - Years ago when I worked in the staffing industry I was always exposed to outplacement firms. These companies would transition employees that were being laid off and help them prepare to work for another company or change careers altogether. This service was free to the displaced employee and was often part of the severance package so that the employee would still have goodwill toward the company that laid them off.

I had placed many referrals from these outplacement firms into regular positions and they were always so happy that they got a job. I really loved working with these referrals because they were always so prepared and grateful with whatever you could do for them.


@SurfNTurf - People that are in the technology fields like programmers and developers along with those in the medical field have to constantly take professional development courses too because those in information technology need to learn how to create programs that are more efficient which can save companies a lot of money.

I also know that nurses and doctors have to stay abreast on the latest in medical treatments so that their patients can benefit from the new research. I think that these fields are really exciting ones because you have so many opportunities to learn new things.


I know that a lot of school districts offer teacher development programs in the form of seminars geared toward helping teachers teach students with cutting edge technology. Teachers are exposed to new and innovative ways to teach students so that they will be engaged in the learning process.

Sometimes these seminars involve new curriculum that the school district wants to introduce teachers to. I asked my daughter's teacher what goes on during these teacher development days in which the kids have no school and that was what she told me.

I also know that many teachers also seek outside professional development courses in order to receive additional endorsements and certifications that will make them more marketable and allow them to progress in their career.

Many teachers seek advanced degrees because they are guaranteed a raise upon graduation. It must be easier today than ever before because of the rise in online classes.

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