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CPLP: Personal Choice or Professional Development Goal?


Thu Jun 27 2019

CPLP: Personal Choice or Professional Development Goal?

Talent development professionals know that professional growth for employees is critical for continued personal career success and the health of the organization where they work. “Lifelong learning” is our mantra. We design learning; we facilitate it; we evaluate and manage it. We design development plans for everyone else—but what about ourselves? Putting our development needs aside isn’t healthy for our careers.

Attending a conference like ATD’s International Conference & EXPO is a wonderful way to sharpen skills and network. I highly recommend regularly attending conferences if you’re able. Conferences give you high-level information on a wide range of topics. Attending them, however, is just the beginning. I challenge you to seek more.


Remaining relevant in the field requires that you embark on the career-long journey of professional development. I’d like to think I’m a lifelong learner, but I started on my development path just to survive.

I fell into instructional design by accident. I was a journalism major in college; my goal was to be the director of a news operation at a television station. When I entered the journalism field, the 24/7 news cycle didn’t exist. The advent of constant access to information dramatically changed the business of television news, which some believe was not for the better. After 20 years, I wanted something different; so, on a whim, I applied for a job of training manager at a bank.

I actually got the job but I can’t tell you how! I was clueless about instructional design, so started devouring anything I could find to learn the art of the subject.

I completed my master’s in education technology in 2006, where I was formally introduced to the elements of solid instructional design. It was the perfect development opportunity for me. I received a good foundation that served me well. Several years later, I began working at AT&T as a contract instructional designer and quickly realized the need for new skill sets. I sought mentors from senior-level instructional designers, which was the best thing I could’ve done. They taught me the basics of good e-learning design and project management, for which I’m grateful.

A few years ago, I became an instructional designer for a health system. I spent the first year learning the business of healthcare. While I can’t say I’m a subject matter expert, I’m learning every day. In healthcare, there is a high demand for learning of all types—from clinical education to leadership development. It’s an instructional designer’s paradise.


I went to the ATD International Conference & EXPO in 2015 and was overwhelmed. I thought my professional development was reasonably adequate until I began networking with colleagues at the conference. The realization hit that I had fallen behind and wasn’t relevant anymore.

I wandered past the ATD booth and noticed the association was giving away fun swag, so I stopped by. I picked up a brochure for the CPLP, which signaled the woman manning the booth to start a conversation with me. She talked about the certification and the benefit it would bring to my career, both knowledge and marketability. Hmm.

I stuffed the brochure into my conference bag and walked away with my swag. As I looked through my collection of info and goodies when I got home, I came across the CPLP brochure. I read it closely then read the CPLP information on the ATD website. I approached my manager about completing the certification as part of my professional development goal. She added it to my performance goals for the following year.

In 2017, I earned the CPLP designation. It wasn’t a walk in the park; I ended up taking the SAE twice before I passed, and the time between the exam and notification seemed like forever!

Why would I walk you through my career in this blog post? My career doesn’t stand out. Like many, I’ve had my ups and downs. My goal in telling my story was to illustrate the ongoing need for professional development, even if you think you’re good. Every step forward in my career has been marked by professional growth opportunities.


The topic of this post was whether my decision to earn the CPLP was a personal choice or part of my professional development goals. In the end, it was a little of both. The journey started when I made the choice to walk the talk and take charge of my professional development. I hope you will too.

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