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Top 10 Instructional Specialist Certifications

This article provides an overview of the top instructional specialist certifications available to help educators become certified in their field.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 17 min read

Certifications for an instructional specialist are important in the job market because they provide evidence of expertise and knowledge in instructional design, educational technology, and other related fields. Certification can help demonstrate to employers that a candidate has the skills and experience necessary to create effective learning experiences for their students. Additionally, certifications can demonstrate to potential employers that a candidate is committed to staying up-to-date with current trends and best practices in the field. Finally, certifications can also serve as validation of a candidate’s qualifications and give them an edge over other applicants who may not have similar credentials.

The purpose of this article is to review the top certifications for Instructional Specialists and explain how they can help further an instructional specialist's career.

What are Instructional Specialist Certifications?

Instructional specialist certification is a professional credential that recognizes instructional specialists who demonstrate the knowledge and skills necessary to lead effective instruction in various educational settings. Instructional specialists are experts in curriculum, instruction, and assessment, and they work to ensure that students achieve their learning goals. With an instructional specialist certification, teachers can become better equipped to lead high-quality instruction and help their students succeed.

Having an instructional specialist certification allows educators to develop their expertise in curriculum development, instructional strategies, and assessment practices. They can also benefit from furthering their understanding of how to use technology effectively in the classroom. With this certification, teachers can be more confident in their ability to design effective lesson plans and assessments that meet the needs of all learners. Additionally, they will have access to resources for professional development such as workshops, conferences, seminars, and online courses. This will provide teachers with the opportunity to stay up-to-date on best practices for teaching and learning so they can continue to be successful classroom instructors.

Pro tip: When considering an instructional specialist certification, make sure to research the requirements and qualifications necessary for the specific program you are interested in. Look into any prerequisites or prior experience that may be required, as well as any additional certifications or credentials that may be needed to become certified. Additionally, look into the cost of the program and ensure it fits within your budget.

Related: What does an Instructional Specialist do?

Top 10 Instructional Specialist Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Instructional Specialists today.

1. Certified Instructional Designer (CID)

Certified Instructional Designer (CID) is a professional certification program that recognizes individuals who have demonstrated expertise in the design, development, and evaluation of instructional materials. The CID credential is awarded by the International Board of Standards for Training, Performance, and Instruction (IBSTPI).

It typically takes about two years to complete the requirements for CID certification. To become certified, applicants must have a minimum of three years of experience in instructional design or related fields. They must also submit a portfolio demonstrating their knowledge and skills in instructional design. In addition, applicants must pass a written exam covering topics such as instructional systems design, adult learning theory, and multimedia applications.

The cost of obtaining CID certification varies depending on the provider offering it. Generally speaking, it can range from $500 to over $2,000 USD.

2. Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP)

Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) is a professional certification program offered by the Association for Talent Development (ATD). It is designed to recognize professionals who have demonstrated expertise in the fields of learning, performance, and workplace development. The CPLP designation is a mark of distinction that indicates an individual has achieved a level of excellence in their field.

In order to obtain the CPLP certification, individuals must meet certain educational and experience requirements, pass an exam, and agree to adhere to ATD’s Code of Ethics. To be eligible for the CPLP exam, applicants must have at least five years of experience working as a learning or performance professional or hold a degree from an accredited college or university.

The CPLP exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions that cover topics such as instructional design, training delivery, performance improvement strategies, technology-based solutions, and assessment methods. The exam takes approximately three hours to complete and is offered twice each year at various locations around the world.

The cost of taking the CPLP exam varies based on whether you are an ATD member or not. For non-members, the fee is $495 USD; for members it is $395 USD. Once you have passed the exam, there is an annual maintenance fee of $50 USD for both members and non-members.

Overall, obtaining the Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) designation requires dedication and commitment but can be a great way to demonstrate your knowledge and skills in this field.

3. Certified Training and Development Professional (CTDP)

Certified Training and Development Professional (CTDP) is a professional certification that demonstrates an individual’s knowledge, skills, and abilities in the field of training and development. It is designed for professionals who are responsible for creating, delivering, and managing effective training programs. The CTDP certification is offered by the International Board of Standards for Training, Performance, and Instruction (IBSTPI).

The CTDP certification requires applicants to have at least five years of experience in the field of training or development. Applicants must also complete a minimum of 60 hours of continuing education related to training and development within the past three years. In addition, they must pass an examination administered by IBSTPI.

To get certified as a CTDP, applicants must first submit an application to IBSTPI along with all required documents. After their application has been reviewed and approved, they will receive instructions on how to register for the exam. The exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions covering topics such as instructional design, performance improvement strategies, adult learning principles, project management techniques, evaluation methods, and more.

The cost to become certified as a CTDP varies depending on the country where you take the exam. In the United States it typically costs around $1,000 USD including registration fees and study materials.

4. Instructional Systems Design Certificate (ISD)

Instructional Systems Design (ISD) Certificate is a professional certification program designed to help individuals gain the skills and knowledge necessary to become successful instructional designers. The ISD certificate is offered by many universities and educational institutions, as well as professional organizations.

The length of time it takes to obtain an ISD certificate depends on the institution offering the program. Generally, most programs require between 12 and 18 months of study, including coursework, practicum experience, and a final project or portfolio.

To get an ISD certificate, you will need to complete courses in instructional design theory, practice, and technology. Most programs also require students to complete a practicum experience or internship in order to gain practical experience in the field. Finally, you may be required to complete a final project or portfolio in order to demonstrate your mastery of the material.

The cost of obtaining an ISD certificate varies depending on the institution offering the program. Generally speaking, most programs cost between $2,000 and $5,000 for tuition and fees. In addition to tuition costs, you may also be responsible for purchasing textbooks and other materials related to your studies.

5. Certified eLearning Professional (CeLP)

Certified eLearning Professional (CeLP) is a certification program designed to recognize professionals who have achieved a high level of expertise in the field of eLearning. The CeLP program is offered by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET), which is an internationally recognized accrediting body.

The CeLP certification requires applicants to demonstrate their knowledge of instructional design, technology, and project management principles related to eLearning development. To be eligible for this certification, applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree or higher in any field and have at least three years of professional experience in eLearning.

The CeLP certification process typically takes about four months to complete. During this time, applicants must complete an application form, submit required documentation, take an online assessment test, and attend a two-day workshop. After completing these requirements, applicants will receive their CeLP certificate from IACET.

The cost of obtaining the CeLP certification varies depending on the applicant’s location and other factors. Generally speaking, it can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $2,500 USD to obtain the certification.

6. Certified Online Instructor (COI)

Certified Online Instructor (COI) is a certification program designed to help instructors develop the skills and knowledge necessary to teach online courses. The program is offered by the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), an organization dedicated to advancing quality online learning. It provides a comprehensive set of standards for online instruction, including best practices for course design, delivery, assessment, and evaluation.

The COI program consists of two parts: an online course and an in-person workshop. The online course covers topics such as instructional design, technology integration, student engagement strategies, and assessment techniques. The in-person workshop focuses on developing teaching skills and applying the principles of effective online instruction.

The COI program typically takes about 6 months to complete. To get certified, you must complete both the online course and the in-person workshop. You will also need to submit a portfolio demonstrating your mastery of the material covered in the program.

The cost of the COI program varies depending on where you take it and how many credits you earn. Generally speaking, it can range from $500-$2,000 or more for all materials and fees associated with the certification process.

7. Advanced Instructional Design Certificate (AIDC)

The Advanced Instructional Design Certificate (AIDC) is a professional certification program offered by the eLearning Guild. It is designed to help instructional designers develop their skills in designing, developing, and delivering effective learning experiences. The AIDC program consists of three courses: Foundations of Instructional Design, Advanced Instructional Design Strategies, and Applying Advanced Instructional Design Strategies.

The Foundations of Instructional Design course covers topics such as learning theories, instructional design models, and principles of effective instruction. This course provides a foundation for understanding how to create effective learning experiences. The Advanced Instructional Design Strategies course focuses on more advanced topics such as developing objectives, creating content and activities, assessing learners’ performance, and evaluating the effectiveness of instruction. The Applying Advanced Instructional Design Strategies course provides hands-on practice in applying the concepts learned in the first two courses.

The AIDC program takes approximately six months to complete if you take all three courses consecutively. However, you can also take each course individually over a longer period of time if that fits better with your schedule. To get the AIDC certificate you must successfully complete all three courses and pass an exam at the end of each course.

The cost for the AIDC program varies depending on whether you are a member or non-member of the eLearning Guild. For members, it costs $1,995 for all three courses; for non-members it costs $2,495 for all three courses.

8. Master Instructional Designer Certification (MIDC)

The Master Instructional Designer Certification (MIDC) is a professional certification program offered by the International Board of Standards for Training, Performance and Instruction (IBSTPI). It is designed to recognize and validate the knowledge, skills, and abilities of instructional designers who have demonstrated advanced proficiency in the field.

The MIDC certification process requires applicants to demonstrate mastery of instructional design principles, practices, and processes. This includes demonstrating expertise in curriculum design, learning objectives development, assessment strategies, instructional strategies, e-learning development strategies, and more.

The MIDC certification process takes approximately six months to complete. Applicants must first submit an application form along with their resume and portfolio of work samples. After their application is approved by IBSTPI, applicants must complete a series of online courses and assessments that cover topics such as adult learning theory, instructional design models, multimedia design principles, project management techniques for training development projects, and more.

Once all requirements are met successfully, applicants will receive their MIDC certification from IBSTPI. The cost of the program varies depending on the number of courses taken but typically ranges from $1,500 - $2,500 USD.

9. Certified Education Technology Specialist (CETS)

Certified Education Technology Specialist (CETS) is a certification program offered by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). The CETS certification is designed to recognize those who demonstrate excellence in the field of educational technology. It is intended to give educators and administrators the knowledge and skills needed to effectively use technology in the classroom and school environment.

The CETS certification requires applicants to complete a minimum of 40 hours of professional development, including courses on topics such as instructional design, educational technology integration, digital citizenship, and more. Applicants must also pass an online assessment that covers all aspects of educational technology. Once applicants have completed these requirements, they will receive their CETS certification.

The cost of the CETS certification varies depending on the type of professional development chosen. Most programs range from $200-$500 USD. It typically takes between 6-12 months to complete the requirements for the CETS certification.

10. Certified Learning Experience Designer (CLED).

Certified Learning Experience Designer (CLED) is a certification program designed to help professionals create and deliver learning experiences that are effective, engaging, and impactful. The CLED certification program focuses on the design of learning experiences from start to finish, including the development of learning objectives, instructional strategies, assessment methods, and evaluation techniques. It also covers topics such as technology integration and learner engagement.

The CLED certification program consists of four courses that can be completed in as little as six months. The courses cover topics such as instructional design principles and practices, project management for instructional designers, multimedia design for learning experiences, and evaluation of learning outcomes. Each course includes activities and assignments that must be completed in order to earn the certification.

In order to get the CLED certification, candidates must first complete all four courses with a passing grade. Once all four courses have been successfully completed, candidates must then pass an online exam administered by the International Board of Standards for Training Performance & Instruction (IBSTPI). The exam consists of multiple-choice questions related to the topics covered in the four courses.

The cost of getting the CLED certification varies depending on where you take the courses and how long it takes you to complete them. Generally speaking, it can cost anywhere from $2,000-$3,000 USD for all four courses plus the exam fee.

Do You Really Need a Instructional Specialist Certificate?

The answer to this question depends on your particular situation. If you are already a teacher and want to become an instructional specialist, then getting a certificate may be beneficial for your career. It could provide you with more knowledge and expertise in the field of instructional design, which can help you better understand how to develop effective lesson plans and curriculum materials that are tailored to the needs of students. Additionally, having a certificate can demonstrate to employers that you have taken the initiative to further your education and skillset in this area.

On the other hand, if you are not currently a teacher but are looking for ways to break into instructional design, then an instructional specialist certificate may not be necessary. Instead, there are many other ways that you can gain the knowledge and experience needed for this role. For example, there are many online courses that offer instruction on topics related to educational technology and instructional design. Additionally, there are often internship opportunities available in schools or other organizations where you can gain hands-on experience with designing lessons or developing curriculum materials.

Ultimately, whether or not an instructional specialist certificate is right for you will depend on your individual goals and circumstances. If it is something that would help advance your career goals as an educator or instruction designer, then it may be worth pursuing. However, if it is something that would be too time consuming or costly for your current situation, then exploring alternative methods of gaining knowledge in this field might be a better option for you.

Related: Instructional Specialist Resume Examples

FAQs About Instructional Specialist Certifications

1. What do instructional specialists do?

Answer: Instructional specialists are responsible for designing, developing and delivering effective learning experiences that help learners reach their educational goals. They work with teachers, administrators and other staff to ensure the best possible instruction for students.

2. How do I become an instructional specialist?

Answer: To become an instructional specialist, you must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in education or a related field. You may also need to obtain certifications such as the Instructional Specialist Certification (ISC) or the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS).

3. What is included in the ISC certification?

Answer: The ISC certification includes courses on curriculum development, teaching strategies, assessment techniques, classroom management and professional development. It also covers topics such as educational technology and differentiated instruction.

4. How long does it take to earn the ISC certification?

Answer: The time it takes to complete the ISC certification varies depending on your current knowledge base and experience level; however, most people can expect to complete it within two years if they are taking classes on a full-time basis.

5. Is there an exam associated with the ISC certification?

Answer: Yes, there is an exam associated with the ISC certification that must be passed in order for you to receive your certification. The exam covers topics such as curriculum design, instructional strategies and technology integration in the classroom setting.

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