It was during July and August a few years ago when I studied for the Association for Talent Development’s (ATD) Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) Knowledge Exam. Summer months are typically warm and leisurely on the east coast of the United States. I made it a time to secure my interests and commit to optimally directing my career.
A series of personal events had set me in a reflective mode in early spring—changes in leadership at work, a birthday, and colleagues making professional moves. During this time period I realized my career needed a boost. Having worked as an instructional designer, a trainer, and a director of learning technologies for eight years, I was familiar with talent development positions, roles, learning technologies, and project life cycles; however, there were gaps in my skills and confidence. This had the potential to set me back if a career opportunity were to arise but was also overwhelming.
Around this same time, I received an unexpected invitation from a vendor to attend an ATD event. The annual International Conference & Exposition was in my city. Without much notice, I planned to attend the Expo. I still recall the atmosphere and my wide-eyed wonder that day. There were hundreds of smart, friendly people who wanted to help me succeed. Conversations with professionals I had just met were genuine and helpful.
Within days I became an ATD member and also joined my ATD regional chapter. I knew I needed the CPLP to separate myself from others in the job market and revitalize my career. While some of my colleagues opted for advanced educational degrees, from my research I knew that certifications were highly regarded, practical, realistic, and cost-effective. I did not have the time or motivation to earn a doctoral degree. The CPLP was for me.
After learning about the CPLP certification process and resources on the ATD website, I completed the application and searched for a study group. While my local chapter did not offer a CPLP study group in the time frame I preferred, other chapters offered study groups in online sessions to the global community of CPLP seekers. I was welcomed into a group of diverse people who, like me, wanted to put a solid credential behind their skills and strengthen their instructional design, training delivery, and managing learning programs areas of expertise.
The study group met weekly for about 10 weeks, making each other accountable for working through the competency model via the CPLP Learning System and practice questions. The depth of knowledge was greater than I expected but my vision and interest kept me alert, strong, and committed. My family supported my endeavor and were happy to find me excited about my studies on a daily basis, applying techniques and theories at work and in life.
After working through the content, I scheduled my Knowledge Exam date and prepared for the physical and emotional rigors of a four-hour test. Exam day arrived . . . and I passed on the first attempt!
Relieved yet tired, I knew I had invested too much not to study and pass the Skills Application Exam (SAE). After two weeks away from studying and a family trip, I was ready to work through the remaining requirements. I practiced with ATD’s online resources and Owl’s Ledge tools. Again, I practiced with discipline and had a group to which I was accountable.
My strength in instructional design led me toward this area of expertise for the exam. I studied the model and thought through my job experiences over the years and recalled how challenges were managed and resolved. I carefully explored the instructional design area of expertise, analyzing how I’d approach each scenario question in real life. As I’d done before the Knowledge Exam, I made certain to address physical and emotional needs prior to testing. I practiced speed reading and three-hour test taking and boosted my daily exercise and sleep routines.
Test day came and again I passed on the first attempt. I celebrated my success and thanked my family for their support as well as my CPLP study group members.
With pride, I added “CPLP” to my email signature. My work environment continued to experience changes; within months my employer was restructuring. Several leaders retired and an opportunity to step into a new role was in sight. The CPLP certification gave me the confidence I needed to make my case for the new position.
Now in my new role, the CPLP knowledge and continuing education requirements give me structure to stay current in the field. I recommend the CPLP certification for professionals wishing to stand out and commit to talent development.