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ATD Blog

10 Steps to Getting Your CPLP in 2019

Thursday, February 14, 2019

In an earlier blog post, I discussed why the New Year is an ideal time to pursue an ATD certification. So, let’s say you have decided to pursue your CPLP in 2019; what do you need to do to make that happen?

1. Determine when you want to complete the CPLP.
If you want to achieve the CPLP certification in 2019, you’ll need to plan it out. You must pass the Knowledge Exam before you can take the Skills Application Exam (SAE), so the first step is to decide when to take the Knowledge Exam.

Look at the information about both exams and the scheduled testing windows to decide what works for you. For example, let’s say you decide to take the Knowledge Exam in June and the SAE in August. Give yourself at least 3-4 months to study for the Knowledge Exam. So, for a June exam date, start studying no later than February.

2. Determine what type of preparation is best for you.
The type of preparation that will work best for you depends on your learning preferences. Do you like to learn face-to-face or online? Do you prefer studying alone or with a group?

The ATD Learning System is the digital textbook that will be the best resource to study for the exams. The ATD Learning System is available in a 12-month subscription to the e-reader that includes interactive texts, quizzes, and case studies; you can also opt for the print version. If you are good at studying by reading, the Learning System may be all you need.

There are also ATD prep courses available in three formats: on-demand, face-to-face, and instructor-led online. If you learn best with others, the face-to-face or live-online options may be best for you.

  • The face-to-face course is a two-day course designed to help you create a study plan and identify the areas in which you will need to focus.
  • The live-online course meets virtually once per week over a seven-week period and covers the same material as the face-to-face course.
  • If you prefer studying on your own, the on-demand course may be your best option. It allows you to study any time, day or night; but you won’t have an instructor or peers with whom to share your CPLP journey.
  • As with all ATD prep course options, a subscription to the ATD Learning System is included in the price of the course.

3. Schedule a prep course.
Let’s say you decide you want to do the face-to-face course. There’s one in February in West Palm Beach that would work with your hypothetical June-August exam schedule. For the live-online option, there is one that starts in January that would also work well. Check the website for additional offerings throughout the year.


4. Study for the Knowledge Exam.
After you take a prep course, you’ll still need time to study the Learning System. Successful candidates study an average of 80 hours for the Knowledge Exam, so you’ll need to create a study plan and stick to it. Here’s a good article about preparing for certification exams.

5. Register to take the exam.
Once you are fairly sure you’ll be ready to take the exam in June, you will need to register for the exam here. Don’t forget that if you have earned the APTD or an eligible ATD Masters designation, you can opt to test out of a portion of the Knowledge Exam, so make sure you have documentation of that credential before you register. The registration deadline for the June Knowledge Exam is April 24, 2019, so you will need to register no later than that date. I’d encourage you register around the first of April, since your one year of eligibility to take the first exam starts when you register.

6. Choose your area of expertise.
When you register for the Knowledge Exam, you’ll need to specify which area of expertise (AOE) you are going to choose for the Skills Application Exam (SAE). The three choices are Training Delivery, Instructional Design, or Managing Learning Programs. I recommend choosing the AOE you have the most experience with, because the SAE is about applying concepts to real-life scenarios. Review the material in the chapters related to the AOEs and make your decision before you register!

7. Take the Knowledge Exam.
Once you register, you’ll be able to choose a date and time to take your exam at a testing center. After you take the exam, you will find out right away if you passed. Once you pass the Knowledge Exam, celebrate for a few days!


8. Study for the SAE.
Now that you have the Knowledge Exam under your belt, you can focus on your chosen area of expertise for the SAE. Concentrate on studying that chapter in the Learning System and take a sample SAE practice test to get a feel for the case study format.

9. Take the SAE.
You will go back to the testing center to take your SAE. You will be notified of your SAE results by email in 8-10 weeks.

10. Celebrate!
Congratulations! You are now part of an elite group of talent development professionals who have proven themselves by achieving the CPLP. You can now put “CPLP” after your name!

CPLP Timeline

About the Author

Sue Kaiden is senior project manager, credentialing for the ATD Certification Institute. In this role, she supports candidates throughout the decision and preparation process and manages recertification for APTD and CPTD credential holders. Prior to joining the CI team, she served as manager of the career development community at ATD where she oversaw content and services related to career development, including ATD's Job Bank.

She is the author of “Keeping Your Career on Track” (TD at Work) and the editor of Find Your Fit: A Practical Guide to Landing a Job You'll Love, a book written with 16 top-notch career coaches, published in October 2016. Kaiden holds a master of business administration degree from Cornell University and achieved the Associate Professional in Talent Development (APTD) in 2019.

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