My CPLP Journey: What Worked and What Did Not

Monday, September 14, 2015

My Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) certification journey began in a fairly typical way. My team at work was looking at certifications that would distinguish someone keen on becoming a world-class learning and development professional. Many discussions later, a colleague and I signed up for the CPLP certification in December 2012. I remember receiving the ATD Learning System from our dispatch team and thinking, “Oh boy—did I really sign up for this?”

Going through the Learning System provided thought-provoking insights. Some of the areas of expertise, such as instructional design and training delivery, validated existing knowledge and practices, whereas others provided new knowledge of the learning and development field.

I planned to take the Knowledge Exam in May 2013—two days before my birthday. The outcome would determine whether I’d have a happy or not-so-happy birthday. The moment before clicking the “submit” button was scary, but suffice it to say that I celebrated a very happy birthday!

Then came the Work Product submission, which is where I anticipated the most difficulty. The expectations were quite high, and I was working with a colleague whose primary driver was maintaining an exemplary academic track record. The Work Product quickly became a Herculean task. We spent countless hours reading the Work Product submission instructions, filling out the submission form, mapping the evidence required to real-time artifacts, numbering more than 250 work sample pages, and getting approvals for the submission. And both my colleague and I still failed.


We were both disappointed, but we then we got to know a colleague from another team who faced a similar situation. Although his first submission had failed, he had just received his resubmitted Work Product exam results—and he passed! He was the first in our organization to achieve the CPLP certification, an opportunity we so narrowly missed. We knew there was hope for us.

The experience gave us a better understanding of the benchmarks that ATD has set for those interested in gaining the CPLP certification. We wanted to use what we’d learned to give it our best shot a second time. We checked and double-checked that all requirements were met, and the hard work paid off. We passed!

Truly, wisdom (and some gray hair) comes from experience! Here’s what helped during the process:

  • the ATD Learning System; it is excellent material 
  • detailed, precise Work Product submission instructions 
  • a helpful team who provided quick responses.

If I were to do it again, I would:

  • Study regularly for the Knowledge Exam, at least an hour a day. 
  • List potential projects that could qualify for submission, and choose a project after a discussion with a peer or a manager. 
  • Spend time mapping the requirements to real-time artifacts, and identify gaps to fill. I would use mind-mapping software such as Freemind. 
  • Take breaks of one to two days while working on the Work Product. Taking a break allows you to see the product with fresh eyes. It helps you identify holes to fill and provides new ideas on how to approach the submission. 
  • Ask a senior colleague to review the final Work Product before submission.

My colleague and I are now proud CPLP credential holders, and have begun working on our recertification—a whole new world to discover. Overall, it was an exciting, learning-filled journey. Go for it!
Learn more about the CPLP Certification.

About the Author
Vivek manages the learning and development practice for the leadership at Infosys BPO. With a career spanning more than 12 years, he has experience in designing and developing sustainable learning initiatives. Vivek has trained more than 12,000 participants and is passionate about training delivery. An executive coach in the Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching methodology, he is also a certified facilitator on Situational Leadership II and Belbin Team Roles. Additionally, he is certified in the Kirkpatrick Four Levels Evaluation Certification Program (bronze level).
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