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  • 6 Steps to Begin Your TD Certification Journey | February 22, 2019 | Webinar Recap

6 Steps to Begin Your TD Certification Journey | February 22, 2019 | Webinar Recap

March 04, 2019 9:16 PM | Anonymous

By Susan Camberis

Editor, Training Today

ATDChi’s first webinar of 2019 was a rich discussion of three certification journeys. 

“Broaden Your Talent Development Career Opportunities: Add the CPLP or APTD Certification to your Development Plan” was facilitated by ATDChi’s President, Eileen Terrell.  The session featured a conversation between Eileen, Dave Lee, and Kirsten Walker, each of whom recently became ATD certified professionals.

There are many reasons why TD professionals choose to pursue certification. 

A self-described “accidental trainer,” Kirsten Walker (ATDChi’s VP of Communications) chose to pursue the Associate Professional in Talent Development (APTD), ATD’s newest certification.  Kirsten wanted to gain more knowledge and lend more credibility to her role as a Sr. Training Specialist.  Kirsten was part of the ATD’s APTD pilot program and earned her credential in December 2017. 

Dave Lee, Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP), came to the TD field from Accounting.  Wanting to certify the knowledge he gained on the job over many years of doing talent development work, Dave viewed certification as a way to expand his employment options.  Dave (ATDChi’s Director of Member Engagement) earned his CPLP in March 2018.    

Having already earned several degrees in Instructional Design, for Eileen Terrell the initial question was:  why get another “piece of paper”?  Eileen determined that what she really wanted was to expand her knowledge base as a TD professional, and she saw the CPLP as the best way to do it.  Eileen earned her CPLP in March 2018. 

If you’re considering certification in 2019, here are 6 helpful steps to begin your journey:

1.  Determine which certification is right for you.  ATD currently offers two certification options:

The APTD focuses on 3 Areas of Expertise (or AOEs), including Instructional Design, Training Delivery, and Learning Technology.  It requires 3-5 years of related experience and consists of one 2-hour Knowledge Exam. 

The CPLP covers the 10 AOEs that comprise the ATD Competency Model [] and requires 5 years of experience.  It consists of a Knowledge Exam and a Skills Application Exam.  You have to decide up front which AOEs you wish to include for the Skills Application exam.  ATD estimates that there are currently 2,000+ CPLP credentialed professionals and 4,000+ CPLP-preferred jobs. 

2.  Set aside the time needed to prepare.  ATD recommends that APTD candidates allow 40-60 hours to prepare, depending on your prior knowledge.  Recommended study time for the CPLP Knowledge Exam is 80+ hours, with 40+ additional hours needed to prep for the Skills Application Exam (SAE).  Total recommended time for the entire process is six to nine months.

3.  Choose a preparation method (or two).  ATD offers various preparation methods, including learning systems, on-demand and instructor-led courses, live online options, and LinkedIn Groups.  Several ATD chapters also offer study groups and some candidates choose to work with accountability partners (i.e. “study buddies). 

When Eileen discovered that the prep course she was interested in conflicted with existing commitments, she opted to purchase the CPLP learning system and work with a study buddy.  They met regularly either in-person or via Skype.  Before each meeting, they each took the related online quiz. They also used note cards and a quizlet app.  

Dave chose to join the Rocky Mountain Study Group (, which meets online once a week for 12 weeks.  He found the regular meeting times helpful for staying on track.  He also used the CPLP study system and practice tests. 

Whichever option you choose, holding yourself accountable to your study plan and choosing methods that align with your learning preferences are keys to success!

4.  Select a testing window.  ATD offers multiple testing windows for both exams.  Based on personal experience, Kirsten does not recommend trying to do all of your studying in the summer.  In hindsight, Walker would have chosen a spring or fall testing window instead. 

5.  Plan for the cost.  If you’re an ATD member, the cost to take the APTD is $400 ($600 for non-members).  Preparation fees typically cost around $200.  The exam fee for the CPLP is $900 for ATD members ($1,250 for non-members).  Preparation fees for the CPLP typically cost around $300 – depending on which options you choose. 

6.  Seek support.  If you would like to find out about local resources to support your certification journey, ATDChi’s Certification Champion, Erin Blanchard, can help.  Erin is sitting for the APTD in this spring and can be reached at 

Good luck with your certification journey! 

To get in touch and learn more about ATDChi resources, visit

To learn more about the APTD, visit

To learn more about CPLP certification, visit


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