Taking the Plunge – My CPLP Journey

Back in 2005, I heard about this new certification program being piloted by ASTD called the CPLP.  Since many of my friends had already obtained ISPI’s CPT designation, I thought I’d check out the CPLP. I joined the first ever study group in Atlanta. At that time, there were no study materials, nothing to purchase for help, and no books. There were categories and sample test questions – but that was it. I attended all the study groups, did all the work, and almost made it to test day. Two weeks before my scheduled test I had a personal tragedyand cancelled my test.

Now, six years later, I’ve decided to pick up where I left off. I’m going to blog about my journey toward CPLP designation. Maybe a few people can use my experience to determine for themselves if they want to pursue this certification.

What is the CPLP?

The CPLP is a certification for Workplace Learning Professionals offered by ASTD National. It is based on an extensively researched model shown here. 

The model identifies the roles, areas of expertise, and foundational competencies for professionals in the learning and performance field.

Obtaining the certification consists of taking a 150 question application-based test on the 9 Areas of Expertise in the model plus submission of a work product that meets very specific standards.

Why Would I Want This?

There are a lot of reasons to pursue this certification. First, it’s nice to have letters behind your name. I’ve got the M.S. which was difficult to earn at night after work. Adding a CPLP after that will just make me seem even more qualified. Also, I’m starting to see CPLP pop up in job requirements on job postings.

Secondly, having a national certification moves Workplace Learning from a “job” to a “profession”. Think about it: You can’t just hang a shingle and proclaim yourself a medical doctor or a lawyer. These are “professions”. Right now, you can still hang a shingle and call yourself a trainer or an instructional designer, but this certification is the first step toward changing that.

Lastly, I don’t want to be the last one left without this certification! I’m frankly worried about reaching a point where I’m older, still seeking work, and not able to obtain it because I haven’t kept up with the times.

My Journey:

This journey will take me until at least February of 2012 to complete, so I’m going to blog about each step as I go. You can read about my excitement, frustrations, boredom, and other feelings and difficulties. Maybe next year a few of you might consider taking this journey yourself.

CPLP – The First Step:

So, my first step was to see if there was anything quick and easy this time for helping to prepare for the test.

First, I looked at ASTD.org for classes or materials they might offer. I’m also working on a budget since I’m personally financing this effort.  Here’s what I found in my search:

  • There is a free content outline for people who want to boot-strap their studies. (Hurray! Free!)
  • There is a free “practice” exam so that you can gauge what you need to learn. (Hurray again!)
  • CPLP “On Campus” is available in some markets – not Atlanta. They will help you prep your work product. No cost is listed which is scary.
  • CPLP “Prep Online” is available asynchronously. It costs $1295. Yes, that’s right – $1295.  
  • There is an ASTD Learning System with books, flashcards, check your knowledge, and a digital flash drive. (Quite a bit more than we had in 2005.) However, the price tag is…..$1349
  • Area of Expertise Webcasts. This is a member-only benefit for ASTD National members. I assume that means free – so I plan to try these.
  • CPLP Prep Workshop – a class offered by ASTD National. Cost – $1295. ….I’m starting to see a trend with the prices. Everything is either short and free or well designed and costly.
  • CPLP Local Study Groups. I checked out the Atlanta area study group and – surprise – the Greater Atlanta Chapter of ASTD runs a multi-state, award winning study group. Cost….free.  Let me double-check that. Free? (Hurray! Free!)

I’m sure you can guess which option I selected.

I quickly signed up for the free program in Atlanta. It’s lucky that I signed up quickly – the program filled up within one week and a waiting list was formed. The free program manager sent us a list of “to do’s” before our first meeting which included getting our own ASTD Learning System. Yikes – it’s $595. Luckily the group leaders suggest that you borrow the system if you’re able. 

Next, we were all asked to attend an in-person kick off meeting for the study group. I attended that last night.

Anne Power - the VP of Professional Development GA ASTD

It was really fun to meet the other people that I’ll be studying with. The real benefit was all the people in the room that had already been through the process.

Laurie Gilmore - CPLP

They shared their experiences with us so that we’d have a better idea on what to expect. We learned what our assignments would be, how to sign up for the test, how much time we should study, etc…  

Sarah Gilbert - Our Social Media Director

We are well organized through social media as well. We have a LinkedIn group where all announcements will be posted, we have all the documents needed posted on Google Docs, we have a twitter hashtag, and we will be meeting with other groups across the country every two weeks via WebEx.

So – that’s it for getting started on the journey. Next, I’m supposed to take a practice exam and assess where my knowledge gaps are. At my age, I’m worried that I may have lost my test taking skills. Therefore, I’ll be taking a lot of practice exams as I go. I’ll blog about this first test after I’ve finished.

  • Time Spent to date:       3 hours
  • Money Spent to date:   $449 (ASTD Learning System with member discount)
15 Responses to “Taking the Plunge – My CPLP Journey”
  1. I KNOW that your feet don’t look like that! Great job 😉

  2. Hi Ladies,

    Just did the pre-test last night and I’m 50 pages into the first Designing Learning book. This is a commitment! Looks like a very worthwhile one – I’m excited to be part of this virtual study group. It occurred to me today that the structure of the materials, tests, class and presentation are a working model of what we are studying – pretty cool, huh?

    Peggy from Eastern PA

  3. Darlene Carter says:

    Hi Leighanne,

    Love your comments on “Taking the Plunge- My CPLP Journey”. I like the idea of getting additional professional certifications and have considered this one in the past. Having read your comments, I am inspired to get going and will look into the program via ASTD!
    Thank you for your honesty and commitment to providing valuable, relevant professional knowledge and experiences.

    Warm Regards,m
    Darlene Carter

  4. Amy Westfall says:

    Hi Leighanne,

    You go girl!!! I completed my CPLP almost a year ago and have NOT regretted it one bit! As a consultant, it’s just one more credential to help reassure the client that I am competent. It shows commitment to the Workplace Learning field and to continuing education to remain up to date.

    Have you been to cplpcoach.com? It’s a site that provides services to help you study for the CPLP. It was founded by Trish Uhl, who is now the Chicago ASTD President. She’s was in the initial CPLP study groups for the pilot back in 2005 and conducts CPLP Boot Camps. She has some good online quizzes that I used to get “prep’d” for the exam.

    But once you pass the exam, it’s on the the Work Product! Fear not, it’s really not that bad! All in all I found the entire process well worth it! It was more of a journey than a destination.

    I wish you all the best on your quest for the “Gold”!
    Amy Westfall

    • ileighanne says:

      Thanks Amy. I met Trish Uhl at ALC a couple of years ago but I haven’t visited her site yet. I’m having trouble keeping up with the study group schedule. The next meeting is tonight!

  5. Jenny Ergle says:

    Leigh Anne,
    Thanks so much for the gift of this blog. As always, you’re doing things your way. I’m looking forward to following your journey. I’m cheering for you from the sidelines!

  6. Sumeet says:

    Keep it up! I look forward to reading more as I am planning the same.

  7. Frank says:

    I too considering cplp designation/certification as a possible career change to be a management instructor. I am going to be 48 and I used to manage my own mortgage brokerage and trained all my employees on tues and thurs nights. I love to teach, but don’t want to teach kids. I would love to follow your journey and possibly stay one step or two behind. I wish you the best of luck and look forward to your future posts. All the best, Frank

  8. Joseph says:

    Is there an update? This certification seems like yet another way for ASTD to make money. Perhaps this is too jaded of a view.

    • Carolyn says:

      I agree Joseph. A degree in education or related field and work experience is more than enough. The CPLP are for those individuals who started their career in another field and they are changing careers. Seem more qualified? If someone studies hard enough, anyone can pass a test, but that doesn’t mean they can do the job well. Invest in something else.

      • suzanne says:

        I totally agree Carolyn. I have a Masters in Education. 99% of the material presented in the $600 Learning System to prepare for the CPLP was nothing but a repeat of material from my B.Sc. Most of the rest of the information, I had acquired across the years in my profession. Wish I had not spent the money. The test is expensive, and for a person from an education background it should not be necessary. However, some companies prefer job applicants have this. Seems pretty sad when a Masters degree in the field is not as respected as a certificate you can get by taking a one shot exam.

  9. Nancy says:

    So when did you earn the CPLP Designation?

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] If you missed my previous post about starting my CPLP journey, you can go back and see it here. […]

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