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The ATD Career Development Framework: Where Do You Want to Go?


Mon Jun 26 2017

The ATD Career Development Framework: Where Do You Want to Go?-4e482ce8874cf5f65a816edbd92841385d7e20bd35e1e2d45783b8c58a39b850

The Dr. Seuss book Oh, the Places You’ll Go! is a popular gift for recent graduates. The encouragement to dream big and work hard to achieve those big dreams is a timeless message. It’s also a good reminder for the rest of us who are far removed from our own graduation day: It’s never too late to take control of your future and intentionally grow and develop your career. At ATD’s annual conference in May, we launched our Career Development Framework—a guide for talent development professionals who want to chart a path of professional development using ATD’s many offerings of content, resources, courses, and certifications. The framework, represented with an easy-to-understand graphic, is flexible and allows practitioners to apply what they’ve learned to next-level development. Whenever someone stopped by the ATD Central booth and asked about classes or certification, my question was, “Where do you want to go?” The responses varied: 

  • “I want to be a chief talent development officer.” 

  • “I want to prove to my boss that I have what it takes to get a promotion.” 

  • “I want to start working on earning the CPLP.” 

  • “I want to prove I know what it takes to be a professional who trains my peers.” 

  • “I want to know everything I can about coaching.”


The ATD Career Development Framework: Where Do You Want to Go?-3af342497ba57c17589753e38ab1ea9b9540bd50e787a2481bd7bd10495c98e7



The variety was delightful, and hearing the dreams and aspirations of so many people was a gift that was even more gratifying when I could help them by referring them to the Career Development Framework. A journey is rarely a straight line from point A to point B. The ongoing education and achievements that are possible through ATD can help talent development professionals get where they want to go professionally, on the path that works for them. 

Resting on a base supported by The ATD Competency Model, our on-demand courses, Essentials Series courses, and webcasts provide an opportunity for learning and continued enrichment for professionals at all levels of their careers. These offerings are also online, so the travel commitment is eliminated while giving the learner the flexibility to drop in virtually at any time and from any place. 

The next step in professional development, ATD certificate programs, are classroom-based, online, or on-site workshops that focus on comprehensive skills or concepts. Many of the certificate courses count toward the continuing education requirements of ATD certifications. 


The popular ATD Master Trainer Program is a collection of assessment-based certificate programs that are focused on mastery of an area of expertise. It includes a knowledge assessment and a final project. Successful completion of a qualified Master Trainer program will allow candidates to test out of certain areas of the Associate Professional in Talent Development (APTD) exam and, coming later in 2018, the Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) Knowledge Exam. 

Finally, representing the highest achievements within the framework are the APTD and CPLP. These are two talent development certifications that involve eligibility, assessment, and recertification. The APTD covers three primary areas of expertise from The ATD Competency Model and can be a stepping stone to the CPLP for some learners, or a destination for others. Earning the APTD certification can significantly help early-career professionals prove their knowledge of talent development, and will enable a practitioner to test out of the three primary areas of expertise on the CPLP Knowledge Exam.  

The CPLP remains the industry’s premier certification. It includes a Knowledge Exam covering all 10 areas of expertise from the competency model, and an in-depth Skills Application Exam. Recertification to maintain both the CPLP and the APTD is required, and is accomplished by earning continuing education points. 

Where you want to go professionally is a personal decision. Determining your path can be overwhelming and confusing, but with the new Career Development Framework, ATD is ready to be a partner in the journey.



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