APTD: A Stepping Stone to Talent Development Expertise

Friday, March 3, 2017

When I was recruited to join the team at the ATD Certification Institute (ATD CI), I had 10 years of experience in the test development field with a medical certification organization. My role had expanded to include training subject matter experts on how to write and peer review exam questions for their profession’s certification. Easily, 20-25 percent of my time was spent developing and delivering training even though my larger job involved something completely different from talent development. When I joined ATD CI to begin shepherding the process of developing the new certification, I soon realized the connection to what I used to do part time could have led to further development and growth with the very certification we were designing. I was the stereotypical “accidental trainer” who served initially as a subject matter expert in my organization and was responsible for transferring my knowledge to others to get the job done. 

The new certification has several possible niches within the talent development profession. Besides the accidental trainer, like myself, the certification would be a great stepping stone for early career professionals looking to prove their skills as they advance in their career. Proving worth through certification is an excellent way to make a commitment to the profession. The Associate Professional in Talent Development (APTD) certification, like the Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) certification, will have a recertification component that involves continued learning—such as by earning continuing education credits—to maintain it. 

The APTD would also be a good choice for people whose roles focus on a few areas. The APTD focuses on three primary areas of expertise (AOEs)—Instructional Design, Training Delivery, and Learning Technologies—with a secondary AOE, Evaluating Learning Impact, and the foundational competency, Global Mindset, woven throughout the exam. People whose roles within their organizations do not involve the more specialized topics of performance improvement, integrated talent management, or knowledge management might want to consider the certification that focuses on these core talent development competencies. 

Finally, if you have been interested in pursuing the CPLP as an ultimate professional development goal, but are daunted by the two-exam process, the APTD might be a good way to wade into the waters of talent development certification before diving in. The APTD exam will be one knowledge-based exam consisting of multiple choice questions and short scenario questions. It not only is a good starter certification, but also can serve as a stepping stone to reach the CPLP. 


Learn more about the APTD credential.


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About the Author
Holly Batts is associate director of credentialing at ATD, with more than 15 years of experience working in the nonprofit sector. Her background in developing and maintaining certification programs includes mid- to high-stakes assessments, extensive work with organizing SMEs, and a thorough understanding of the certification process. Holly has an MS in organizational leadership, as well as the Project Management Professional (PMP) and Certified Association Executive (CAE) certifications.
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