This is the penultimate part in our series of blogs designed to help you complete your SER CPD return with minimum difficulty. 

This blog contains information relating to the main page of the SER CPD return process: Review, Activities and Intentions.

SER Guidance Note 7 details SER’s expectations for Scheme members’ CPD, and the CPD tutorial provides further information on how to complete your CPD return.

‘The amount of CPD (number of hours) that is appropriate to an individual may vary from year to year depending on such things as workload requirements, changes to codes and standards and changes to legislation.

Certifiers must undertake sufficient CPD to develop and maintain the professional knowledge, skills and competence appropriate to the type of work that they certify and their existing level of knowledge.

As a guide SER consider that 60 hours over a three-year period is appropriate, and in line with the requirements of other professions, for Certifiers who undertake work on a variety of projects of different types, sizes and in different materials. Describing the target in this way will allow for peaks and troughs in requirements and supply.

There may be circumstances where a reduced requirement of say 30 hours over 3 years may be appropriate for Certifiers operating in a restricted field of projects, such as small domestic work, on which they have worked exclusively for a number of years.’

Part A - Summary of knowledge gained this year

Part A of the return should be used by Certifiers to provide background to the volume of CPD activities they have undertaken that year – if you have undertaken less CPD than normal, use this section to explain the reason(s) why. Please note that some Certifiers decide not to provide a CPD return if they have not undertaken much CPD in a given year. This leads to them being suspended from the Scheme unnecessarily. Instead, you should still complete an SER CPD return, but provide justification for the lack of CPD activity - you can then provide details of your plans for the following years’ CPD in Part C of the return. CPD is assessed at audit rather than on an annual basis, and auditors take a holistic view of all the CPD returns that they have available.

Part B – Import and Add Activities

If you have not uploaded all your activities to the Notepad and then imported them, you will need to manually add your activities to this section unless you have selected to use your IStructE or ICE return in place of Part B. SER CPD should contain activities that are relevant to your role as an SER Approved Certifier (rather than your role as a structural engineer), therefore the ‘Description of new knowledge gained’ section should explain the relevance of the activity to your certification activities. We are not expecting an essay for each activity, however do bear in mind that even if the relevance to certification might seem obvious, you should nonetheless provide a sentence or two explaining each activity’s benefit to your certification practices.

Part C – Intentions for Coming Year

In this section you should detail your CPD plans for the following year – as well as a general statement, if you have already booked to attend any courses you should mention them here.

Submit to IStructE?

As mentioned previously, your SER CPD return can be submitted to IStructE in lieu of an IStructE return. To reiterate, this is not the case the other way around. If you provide an IStructE return, it is not the case that it can be submitted to SER, and it is also not possible for your IStructE return to take the place of submitting an SER return – as explained previously your IStructE (or ICE) return can be uploaded as part of your SER return, but you will always have to complete Parts A and C of the SER return online. 

Additionally, it is not possible for you to satisfy the SER CPD requirements by emailing us a copy of your IStructE or ICE CPD return. This is for two reasons – as well as the list of Activities in the IStructE or ICE CPD return we also require Part A and C to be completed, and secondly, if you do not complete the CPD online via the link in your Outstanding Tasks it will remain Outstanding, and your ability to generate SER certificates will be disabled on 1 April 2024.

Please note that your CPD return is not submitted to IStructE immediately, so do not expect to see confirmation of this in your IStructE account straight away – if you have any queries regarding your IStructE return it is always best to contact IStructE directly. Please also be aware that IStructE and SER’s CPD requirements differ, and that any communications from IStructE saying your CPD has been approved does not mean that your return has been assessed by SER. As explained previously, your CPD will be assessed by SER at your next audit.


We know you are used to SER Admin being able to amend minor errors in certificates after you have generated them, but unfortunately this is not the case with CPD returns - it is not possible for either yourself or SER Admin to make any changes or add any files to CPD returns once they have been submitted, so please do check your return carefully before clicking on the Submit Return button.

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