An Unexpected Upside to the CPLP

Friday, September 13, 2019

In 2007, my manager carved out time for our small L&D team to begin preparing for the Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) credential. I had not heard of the credential, but she knew the value it could bring to our team. My colleagues and I enjoyed gathering one Friday each month to walk through the study guide. As we studied, we shared how the content related to our everyday tasks in the training rooms and to our instructional design. Our manager supported our efforts, provided financial assistance for the cost of the exam, and made our attendance possible at that year’s ATD International Conference & Exposition in San Diego.

We were well on our way to preparing for the knowledge portion of the test when the 2008 financial downturn hit our nonprofit. My position was eliminated. Without skipping a beat, I took advantage of the strength of the local ATD chapter to continue my preparations for the credential. Back then, the CPLP Prep Cohort met one Saturday morning each month at a local library. While searching for a new job, I had an advantage other job seekers did not—I could market myself as a candidate for the credential on my résumé. Even before I earned the credential, my studies helped me interview better and land a job in a tight job market.

In my next position, I applied the knowledge I gained preparing for the CPLP certification. I led workgroups to improve business processes using root cause analysis techniques. I regularly used the principles of instructional design to help manage the scope and flow of the trainings I produced. My instructional design process helped me manage subject matter expert meetings and identify which knowledge related to the training-at-hand and which to provide as an additional resource. I learned to think broadly and ensure my projects had the greatest chance of success by gaining stakeholder support at inception, during the project, and post-implementation. I applied rapid instructional design techniques to help produce software training while the product was still being developed. These are all topics I studied as a part of my credential.


Pursuing and holding this credential helped me to establish my professional network, including a group of professionals I have continued to meet with and follow over the years. Initially, I served on the board of my local ATD chapter. I also paid it forward by delivering training to new CPLP candidates. In 2016, I was honored to select our ATD chapter’s Leader in Learning as a panel judge. It gave me a front row seat to the amazing talent development efforts in my community. Currently, attending the Special Interest Groups (SIG) meetings keeps me at the top of my game and helps me maintain my credential.

People have asked me along the way about the CPLP certification and what it means. I believe it means different things depending on where you are in your L&D career. At the beginning, it helps a newer person understand the broad framework of how we affect talent in the workplace. I find as my career matures, my continuing education reinvigorates me and helps me frame familiar L&D project challenges in new ways. As I embark on my third recertification cycle, I know it will continue to pay dividends in new ways. Throughout my time as a CPLP candidate and as a credential holder, the CPLP has provided me a community of practice of which I am proud to be a part.

About the Author

Jennifer Caruso, CPLP, most recently led a team to redesign the supervisor basic skills training program for Access and Eligibility Services (AES) for the State of Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC).

She has more than 10 years’ experience in instructional design and curriculum development. Prior to joining HHSC, she ensured training compliance with government regulations in a financial services setting. Her experience also includes nonprofit work. For example, at the American Cancer Society she trained staff to connect clients with services and support.

She has earned a Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP®) credential and obtained her Master’s in Education from the University of Massachusetts.

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