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CPLP: The Certificate Itself


Wed Sep 03 2014

CPLP: The Certificate Itself

This is Part 1 of a three-part series on understanding how CPLP can boost your career.  

The CPLP certificate floats on my wall in a fancy glass frame surrounded by dark wood. I bought the frame for myself even before the 10” x 13” certificate arrived in the mail. I knew the certificate deserved an elegant and spacious place to live, and so I chose a 24” x 24” frame. I reference my certification frequently and love explaining its importance to my office visitors—it means I have shown mastery of a competency model decades in the making.


I also gesture to the previous ASTD Competency Model poster—a colorful triangle that my heart holds dear. After all, I spent months studying every aspect of the model. Now, it is like an old friend I’m constantly consulting.

Earning my CPLP designation was the most difficult of my career achievements and the one I am most proud of. I mean this—my MBA diploma is taped to a framed, pixelated picture of an Alaskan cruise I took.

Like many other training and development specialists, I waited years for ATD (formely ASTD) to launch a certification program. I envisioned putting important initials after my name, having industry-wide acknowledgment of the training profession and validation for my career choice. (I also wanted to beef up my resume.)

I'm one of the lucky folks who found a career right out of college. I went to work for a computer training company in sales, couldn’t meet quota, and should have been fired. Fortunately, the owner took an interest in me, put me through a bunch of software courses, and I eventually transferred into the training department. During this time, I became involved with my local ATD chapter—and that was back in 1994.

Two years went by and I continued my search for validation. Everything was out of my price range and required out-of-state travel to attend training. It was also always too specific—only instructional design or only train-the-trainer. I was more than a trainer! I analyzed workflow, provided performance solutions, and crunched evaluation numbers. I didn’t want to be put in a box.


Then the World Wide Web blew everything up. ATD showed up on “the net,” Langevin was out there, and Microsoft was offering software certifications. There were too many options! Still, everything was out of my price range and nothing really excited me.

But around 2001, I started hearing rumors that ATD was coming out with its own industry certification. Could it be true? Did someone else share my vision of a credential that proved all of their training and development skills? Perhaps there was hope.

Life went by and I continued to absorb anything I could (afford) that was related to our industry. I devoured every T+D magazine I received (a benefit of my national membership). I researched our profession and how it came to be. I found many of these resources for free at the library—books by Knowles, Gardener, and Bloom.

Then my career aspirations started to sway. I started thinking: Maybe I should become a Certified Network Administrator. Maybe I should earn my Project Management Professional. Going into HR seems okay. I stopped reading T+D, stopped looking to ATD for this phantom industry certification, and stopped attending my local chapter meetings. Even my national membership lapsed.

I kept up with my training and development readings every once in a while, but I was losing my way and getting distracted by the industries that already had certifications. Then, in early 2006, I happened upon the ATD Learning System.


It turns out I had missed the boat! If I had stuck around and stayed committed, I’d have known that ATD piloted the Certified Professionals in Learning and Performance program in 2002; the first group is sometimes known as The Pioneers.

It was no longer just a vision, no longer a rumor, no longer a phantom. The Certified Professional in Learning and Performance designation was alive, young, and vibrant—and I wanted one.

Learn more about the CPLP certification. Or join the CPLP study group launching on September 6, 2014!

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