The CPLP Challenge

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

In 2009, when I obtained my Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) credential, I had been an instructional designer (ID) for approximately nine years. I was leading a team of IDs at various levels of expertise, so my days were filled with coaching, encouraging, and challenging others—all while designing and developing training myself. I was successful in my job and had the respect of my peers and company management. Why in the world did I feel the need to become a CPLP? Fair question.

Simply put, I was a single mother with a high school diploma. The company I worked for had invested in me by providing the best coaches and mentors, internal and external training, ATD membership, and endless other resources. However, formal education was becoming more important to me. I believe we should always be learning, and although going back to school for a degree was not viable, certification was. I wanted to challenge myself and stay current in the profession. I believed CPLP certification—and subsequent access to the network of CPLP credential holders—would help me achieve those goals.

So, I began preparing for the exam in 2008, using the hard-copy version of the ATD Learning System. My nights and weekends became full of study. I learned so much from delving into the nine competencies, and I was also able to share this knowledge with my team. However, as the exam date approached, I became anxious. I started wishing I hadn’t told anyone that I was going for the certification, but since my employer paid all costs involved, that wouldn’t have worked. I kept thinking, “What if I don’t pass the exam? Here I am, an ID with a staff of IDs, and what if I fail and lose my job?”

Finally, exam day arrived. I really did think I would fail after reading the first four questions. My heart dropped: I did not know the answers! I thought, “How can this be? I’ve studied for hours on end; I’ve been designing training for years. What in the world?” I began to pray, and within a few minutes I was calmer, reread the questions, answered, and carried on.


I had no idea that I’d find out my score before I left, so when the proctor told me I had passed, I wanted to hug her. I was amazed and thankful. I probably looked ridiculous driving home; I was grinning from ear to ear and yelling, “Thank you God!”

Next, I needed to complete the work product. Despite my obsessive need to make sure everything was labeled exactly as required, this phase was fairly easy for me. I checked and rechecked my work product, sent it off, and received my certification in April 2009.

Was it all worth it? Absolutely! This accomplishment meant so much to me; most important, it gave me confidence. Though I didn’t have a degree, I had put forth the effort to receive a certification that is so stringent, passing it means you are indeed a professional in learning and performance.

I continued to move up in position and pay grade. Was it due to my CPLP credential? I believe it was, in no small part. I was no longer just an expert in designing training; I was well versed in the entire learning and performance field. I brought something to the table beyond how to write a solid learning objective. My clients could count on me to identify the right solution for their issue. Plus, I had a large network of CPLP credential holders to draw on when I encountered something I hadn’t dealt with before, or when I just needed validation I was on the right track. The CPLP network cannot be underestimated!

I retired in August 2014 after 28 years with my company, 24 of those being in the training department. Although for now I’m enjoying my retirement, I am entertaining some freelance offers. Again, I credit the CPLP; having the certification gives me credibility and offers assurance to anyone who may contract with me that they are partnering with a professional. I’m thankful that I took the CPLP challenge!

Learn more about the CPLP Certification.

About the Author
Michele Forcier recently retired from her post as a corporate learning and development professional, and currently entertains freelance L&D projects. 
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