I knew early in my career that I wanted to earn the Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) credential. I vividly remember sitting next to a CPLP holder at an ATD International Conference & Exposition, hearing about the validation that the CPLP gave to her, her employer, and the industry. However, it would be a few years before I met the work experience qualification.
I am a career learning and talent development professional. I’m glad we have accidental instructional designers and second-career professionals in the industry—the diversity of experiences in the talent development community adds value to our goal of creating a world that works better. That wasn’t my path, though. My first exposure to the industry was in high school, as a member of the National Future Farmers of America Organization, which is for students interested in agriculture and leadership. Since then I’ve been an instructional designer, researcher, trainer, evaluation lead, and learning manager. Currently, I lead the learning and development team at the American Farm Bureau Federation.
I started preparing for the CPLP by taking a practice exam. What an eye-opening experience! I have a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and a master’s degree in educational psychology, and I had been involved in learning and talent development for a while. Yet I quickly realized that there was a lot I didn’t know.
I took the Preparing for the CPLP Instructor-Led Workshop in May 2015, and I wouldn’t earn the credential until November 2016. I believed that if I was going to put letters behind my name, I wanted to prove to myself that I really was knowledgeable in the space. So I approached the studying and prep process intentionally and methodically. In fact, I thought the preparation was just as valuable as actually earning the credential.
I joined the CPLP Candidate Group on LinkedIn and connected with others who were in the same prep workshop. I started with the lowest scores from my practice exams and began studying those areas of expertise. The ATD Learning System was my guide, because I knew that the questions would be based on the content there. I created mind maps for most areas of The ATD Competency Model, which turned out to be helpful last-minute review tools before the exams.
I would be lying if I said the preparation went exactly as planned. I passed the Knowledge Exam during the September/October 2015 window and intended to submit the work product a few months later, ideally earning the credential in the spring of 2016. The deadline quickly approached and I had to make a decision: I could rush the Work Product and hope for the best, or I could wait for the new Skills Application Exam (SAE) eight months later. I waited and I’m so glad I did.
The extra time let me get back to the reason I started this journey in the first place—to prove to myself, the talent development community, and my employer that I have the knowledge to be successful in the field. I spent time reviewing what I learned preparing for the Knowledge Exam and reframing that knowledge for the SAE. I also found I was applying what I learned more regularly in the workplace. The SAE is no walk in the park, but I completed the exam feeling good about my applied knowledge.
Looking back, my CPLP journey was a rich learning experience. It was worth it, but it wasn’t always easy. For a community of learning professionals, it’s only right that we honor the learning process to make the most of the entire credentialing journey.
Learn more about the CPLP Certification.