Why Earn the CPLP?

Thursday, November 30, 2017

I’m not going to lie and tell you that earning your Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) certification is easy as pie. Nor am I going to tell you that it’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do. What I am going to tell you is that it requires dedication and effort, but if you have a drive to be the best, go for it.

What motivated me to become a CPLP? I wanted to improve my skills, make myself more marketable, and join an elite group within our industry.

I started by doing research at the ATD 2015 International Conference & EXPO. I read everything on the ATD website, and other resources around the industry. The CPLP is well respected. While not everyone in talent development knows what it is, it is well known enough to make an impact. I concluded that if I wanted to seriously develop my skills, the CPLP was the route I should take. And finding time to study was doable.

Was I committed? I earned a master of education in educational technology in 2006. I have a bookcase full of textbooks on instructional design, task analysis, and more. I have been in the education rodeo before, so did I really think the CPLP was worth the time and money? I decided it was, so I made it a priority.

When asked for my professional development goals for 2016, I wrote down earning the CPLP designation. My goal was in writing, so there was no turning back. I purchased the ATD Learning System, including the print version. When my print version arrived, I almost dropped it on my foot. It’s about 1,000 pages, so it would’ve caused injury!


My advice:

  • Study consistently. Cramming isn’t going to work (like it did in college).
  • Don’t panic.
  • Utilize the assessment tools at the end of each module.
  • Give a lot of consideration to your Skills Application Exam (SAE) topic before deciding.
  • Once you pass the Knowledge Exam, don’t sell the SAE short because it covers only one module. You’ll use the other stuff in the book too.
  • Forget what you’ve learned in “the real world”—pretend like the learning system is all you know.
  • Don’t overthink it.

I passed the Knowledge Exam the first time. It took me two times to pass the SAE. (That’s how I learned not to skimp on that part of the process.) I received my designation in May 2017.
I’ll give you the “what’s in it for me.” I work in healthcare: It is the land of certifications and designations. Adding letters behind my name gives me additional clout with my colleagues. Even when they have no idea what it represents, they figure I must know my stuff. That doesn’t hurt when obtaining new projects.

I do feel more confident. The CPLP program helped me remember what I’m supposed to do and why doing everything by the book works. Becoming a CPLP means I’m better able to walk a client through my analysis and set realistic expectations. Plus, I’m not hesitant to tell a client that training is not the solution, and suggest other options.


The CPLP is a differentiator in the marketplace. It shows dedication to the craft, and that you’re willing to work hard. While I’m not in the market for a new job, it doesn’t hurt to be well positioned for the future. I can’t become complacent either, because I need to earn continuing education credits for recertification!

I must add, it was fun to be in the elite, cool crowd at the ATD 2017 International Conference & EXPO. There aren’t many of us, so when you come across another CPLP, you forge a connection and gain a credible resource.

Learn more about the CPLP certification. 

About the Author

Denise Hicken is a senior learning consultant with Floyd Medical Center in Georgia. Her career has served her well in this role, allowing her to expand her contributions to the organization. Denise holds a Journalism degree and a master’s in education from the University of Missouri. She earned her CPTD in 2017 and is currently working toward a certification in project management.

Denise has worked in the news industry, banking, and now in healthcare. Her career path has given her a unique insight into the business of healthcare. However, her passion is enhancing culture in the workplace through leadership development. She leads an initiative titled “Culture Conversations” which provides leaders with tools and guidance to hold monthly conversations with their teams on topics which focus on enhancing culture. This initiative was nominated for best “People Focused Initiative” at Floyd in 2018.

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