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Insight

CPLP Declaration: This Is My Profession!

Thursday, June 28, 2018
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I first started working in the field of learning, development, and coaching back in 2002. I did my requisite time as a field-based trainer, and even did some sessions where the audience came to me. When I found I had opinions and ideas about creating and managing the training, I joined the department that created (as well as delivered) the training and took a workshop or two on instructional design. I became fascinated by the art and science of learning programs, and felt compelled to take some courses on project management (with an emphasis on learning programs), eventually getting a designation in project management (the PMP).

After some time creating, delivering, and managing training programs (in-person and virtually), I began consulting with other units on their training. Eventually I was offered a leadership position in one of those departments. I loved leadership, especially since it was my team’s job to deliver an important training program at my company. I honed my coaching skills to be the leader I had always wanted to be.

A few years later, I was asked to lead and manage a very large team of trainers and weigh in on the effectiveness of the learning program we were delivering. All those years of preparation paid off in a big way, and in this new role I chose to continue growing my knowledge and skill set by doing some self-study on knowledge management (which was new to me, but growing in importance to my department) and change management (which was important because my team was doing the role that other teams used to do, so everyone was in a state of change).

Years later, as I pondered how to keep developing, I stumbled upon ATD’s Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) designation. As I looked at the Areas of Expertise, you could have knocked me over with a feather: performance improvement, instructional design, training delivery, learning technologies, evaluating learning programs, managing learning programs, integrated talent management, coaching, knowledge management, and change management.

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It was everything that I had studied and shown an interest in during my 15 years as a professional in this field! I could not have felt more compelled to pursue this designation and make it a hallmark in my career, a representation of the fact that I have devoted my time and passion to this interrelated set of subjects. It was as though I was telling myself: You are a professional in this field, and you now can show the whole world how far you have come. These are the subjects I would have—and in some cases did—study on my own!

Why do I tell you all this? Because my bet is that many or most of you reading this have felt like me. Maybe the first question to ask yourself is, “Are these the subjects in which I was already interested and/or educated?” That would be a very telling sign. If you could read articles or books on this subject, would you look forward to it, or would you find reasons to procrastinate? That’s another telltale sign. Do you have strong opinions and spend time debating about what could—or should—be done in the learning and performance realm where you work? If you are still reading this right now, I’ll bet the answer to all three questions is a big “yes!”

Passing the Knowledge and Skills exams is not easy—these were two of the hardest tests I have taken in a decade, and they are no joke. I studied for at least as many hours as ATD recommended—perhaps more—and these were subjects on which I thought I already had a lot of knowledge. However, the very fact that those tests are difficult to pass is also what made passing the exams so richly rewarding. It also so happens that, all the while I was studying, I was keeping all the information in my head and applying it even more to my day-to-day work. Studying for this test and applying the information is what will make you a true learning and development professional. Passing the tests and getting the designation is just a representation of that journey and achievement. You are not buying a designation—you are joining a select community of professionals, who are awaiting your arrival.

We need you, and we look forward to seeing you soon. You can do this!

About the Author

John Zimmerman is a Learning Manager with the Agent Development Center at State Farm Insurance. He progressed from being a trainer, to writing and managing training programs, to consulting on other departments’ training programs, to leading teams (both small and large) in the training and development function. His favorite part of all his roles has been coaching others and watching them reach their potential. John and his wife Meighan live in Chandler, Arizona with their three great kids, Natasha, Trent, and Chase. When they are not involved with loads of kid and community activities (which is rare), they like eating out and relaxing in front of the TV. Someday they would love to return to the California coast, where they grew up.

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