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Becoming an APTD Takes Commitment and Context

Thursday, March 1, 2018

I was inspired to become an Associate Professional in Talent Development (APTD) by my director, a Certified Professional in Learning and Development (CPLP) certification holder. When working with colleagues to design instruction, she would always provide the reason behind her design strategy. For example, when including an activity in an instructor-led training session where the learner provides the answer to a question before the trainer gives the answer, she would talk about discovery learning and discuss its influence on a learner’s performance and retention of information. I wanted to be like her—to be able to explain the reasons behind our practices in instructional design to our subject matter experts, trainers, and leaders. She had the credibility that I longed for.

In 2016, I purchased study materials to become a CPLP. I ordered the print version because I prefer to read on paper instead of a computer screen. To my surprise, the CPLP preparation book was hundreds of pages long! I am the mother of two young children, I work full time, and my husband and I run a business together. To say that diving into that CPLP preparation book was scary is an understatement. I was overwhelmed. That’s why I was so delighted when I learned about the APTD certification in 2017. I hadn’t yet prepared for or taken the CPLP exam, and the APTD felt like something I could tackle. To me, preparing for the APTD exam felt more attainable in the midst of my busy life. This was a way for me to achieve my CPLP one step at a time.

Right away, as I began studying to become an APTD, I could apply the material to my work. As I prepared to take the APTD exam, I was simultaneously creating an instructor-led training course for the consulting division of my company. I applied everything I was learning in my preparation for the APTD, from recommended seating arrangements for this course’s training room to the way in which we designed the instructor’s guide for the course. Having a project to apply my studies to made all the difference. It made the material come alive.

If I could share any advice for an aspiring APTD, it would be to take the risk and commit to taking the exam by scheduling the date of your test. Working backwards from this date, build yourself a study timeline.


My second piece of advice is to take every opportunity to apply what you are studying to a current project at work. This made all the difference for me. And, by applying what you’re learning on the job, you will impress your peers, subject matter experts, and leaders with your knowledge.

Finally, I encourage you to invest in the APTD On-Demand Learning Course. This online tool was instrumental in helping me to identify my weakest areas so that I could spend extra time studying them.
The APTD brings me one step closer to achieving the CPLP. Becoming an APTD gives me more credibility among my colleagues and leaders, and will help me as I pursue new growth opportunities within my company’s learning department.

Now . . . onto the CPLP!

Learn more about the industry’s newest credential, the APTD.

About the Author

Heather Reed is an instructional designer with Press Ganey Associates, a leading provider of patient experience measurement, performance analytics, and strategic advisory solutions for healthcare organizations across the continuum of care. Heather is responsible for designing patient experience, employee engagement, patient safety, and healthcare quality education. Her primary focus is developing instructor-led training, but she also designs e-learning and written educational materials. In her role at Press Ganey, Heather supports client training efforts by teaching clients about Press Ganey’s online data analysis tools, offering specific strategies for using data to improve the patient experience.

Prior to her role as an instructional designer, Heather served Press Ganey clients as a patient safety culture project manager and as a client improvement manager. Within these two roles, Heather was largely responsible for helping clients to interpret data so that they could improve safety culture and patient experience in a targeted fashion. Heather obtained a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University in 2003. In addition to obtaining her Associate Professional in Talent Development certification in 2017, Heather is working to achieve Certified Instructional Technologist certification, which is based on the Mager-Pipe criterion-referenced instruction model.

1 Comment
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Well said, Heather! The APTD was immediately applicable to my role and was a much more digestible undertaking than the CPLP. It wasn't easy by any measure, but it was certainly relevant to my job. Congrats on passing!
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