I’ve wanted to earn the Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) credential for a long time! I received a master's degree from Ashford University in 2011, and I am a member of ATD. Initially, I researched to determine if I was eligible to pursue the credential and what would be required of me. For some reason, I felt inadequate. I didn’t think I had the experience because I was “just” a trainer. Well, that was my title at the time, but I didn’t realize that I had experience with instructional design, curriculum development, change management, policy development, and a lot of other bits and pieces that would support my eligibility for the credential.

I started working for my current company in October 2014 with a supervisor who encourages growth and lifelong learning. My position has been a game changer for me, because I have not had that type of support at work before. Under his supervision, I have been immersed in projects in a way I have not experienced before. He challenges me. His encouragement makes me think about my future as a learning professional and what steps I can take to direct my career path.

In November 2016, I applied for eligibility, and I ordered the ATD Learning System in February 2017. My goal was to complete my self-study in time for the next Knowledge Exam testing window, in April 2017, and take the Skills Application Exam (SAE) in June 2017, as soon as possible after the Knowledge Exam. When I started reading the first chapter of the ATD Learning system, however, I felt overwhelmed knowing I was only on the first page of a 1,000-plus-page document! My inner voice said, “You can’t possibly learn all this in time. You might as well give up right now.” I had to talk back to my inner voice and say, “I don’t have a choice, so be quiet!” This conversation played in my head many times during my journey.

I put a lot of pressure on myself to study on my own instead of taking advantage of the group learning opportunities that were available. I created flash cards, I completed the chapter practice questions twice, and I completed the practice exams three different times. When it was time to take the Knowledge Exam, I felt pretty confident, and it was so nice to get the outcome right after submitting the exam!


The SAE was another story. I had several technical issues, and the proctor had to restart my testing session about seven times! I was so flustered, and I thought those disruptions could have negatively affected my outcome. I left the testing center feeling less than confident, and I was on pins and needles for eight weeks. Thankfully, I received an email in August 2017 with a passing score!

I benefitted from the study process long before I even took either exam. I found that I was applying the concepts and theories at work regularly, but I was never able to put a name to them. As I covered information, I found it interesting that topics would arise in meetings with my team that allowed me to apply and share my newly acquired knowledge. I gained confidence in myself that I never had before. I will never use the word just before my title again, because I know now that the knowledge I have is relevant and necessary to my clients. I knew I was good at what I was doing. Now I know why I’m good at what I’m doing, I’m only getting better, and it is reassuring that I’m operating in my purpose. I know I’m in the right profession, and I’m excited to do what is necessary to maintain my credential. There is still so much to learn!

Learn more about the CPLP Certification.