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Top 10 Learning and Development Specialist Certifications

This article provides an overview of the top certifications for learning and development specialists to help professionals advance their careers.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 19 min read

Certifications are an important asset for learning and development specialists in the job market because they demonstrate a high level of expertise and knowledge in the field. Certifications provide proof that the specialist has met certain standards, which employers find attractive when evaluating candidates. Additionally, certifications show that the specialist is committed to their profession and willing to invest time and effort into becoming a better professional. Certifications also provide evidence of current trends and best practices, which can help employers make informed decisions about hiring or promoting a candidate. Lastly, certifications can be used as a form of recognition for outstanding achievements within the field.

The purpose of this article is to review the top certifications for Learning and Development Specialists and explain how they can contribute to a learning and development specialist's career growth.

What are Learning and Development Specialist Certifications?

Learning and development specialist certification is a professional certification that demonstrates an individual's expertise in the field of learning and development. The certification is offered by various organizations, including the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET), the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD), and the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI).

The certification requires individuals to demonstrate knowledge of best practices for designing, developing, delivering, and evaluating employee training programs. It also tests their understanding of adult learning principles, instructional design theories, and current trends in learning technologies. Individuals must have at least three years of experience in a learning and development role before they can apply for the certification.

By obtaining this certification, individuals demonstrate their commitment to staying current on industry trends and best practices. Organizations can also benefit from having certified professionals on staff as they can help ensure that employee training programs are effective in achieving desired outcomes. Additionally, certified professionals may be able to command higher salaries than non-certified professionals due to their specialized skillset. In any case, earning a learning and development specialist certification is an excellent way to enhance your career opportunities while demonstrating your commitment to providing quality training services.

Pro Tip: When considering a Learning and Development Specialist Certification, research the prerequisites, costs, and duration of the certification program to ensure that it is the right fit for you. Additionally, make sure to explore the various certifications available to determine which one best suits your goals and experience.

Related: What does a Learning and Development Specialist do?

Top 10 Learning and Development Specialist Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Learning and Development Specialists today.

1. Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP)

The Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) is a certification program designed to recognize professionals who demonstrate expertise in the field of learning and performance. It is offered by the Association for Talent Development (ATD), formerly known as the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD).

The CPLP certification is designed to assess and validate an individual's knowledge, skills, abilities, and experience in the areas of learning and performance improvement. The certification requires applicants to demonstrate their mastery of all aspects of the learning and performance improvement process, including instructional design, training delivery, evaluation, consulting skills, technology-based learning solutions, project management, and organizational development.

It typically takes between six months to one year to complete all requirements for the CPLP certification. To become certified as a CPLP professional, you must first meet eligibility criteria which includes having at least three years’ experience in the field of learning and performance improvement or related fields such as instructional design or training delivery. You must also pass an examination that covers topics such as instructional design principles; adult learning theory; training delivery methods; evaluation techniques; consulting skills; technology-based learning solutions; project management; and organizational development.

The cost for taking the CPLP exam varies depending on your country/region but typically ranges from $400-$600 USD. In addition to this fee there may be additional costs associated with attending workshops or purchasing study materials.

2. Certified Training and Development Professional (CTDP)

Certified Training and Development Professional (CTDP) is a credential offered by the International Board of Certified Trainers (IBCT). It is designed for professionals working in the field of training and development who wish to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and abilities. The CTDP credential validates that an individual has the necessary knowledge to design, develop, deliver, assess, and evaluate training programs.

The CTDP certification requires applicants to have at least three years of experience in training and development or a related field as well as successful completion of the IBCT’s online exam. The exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions covering topics such as instructional design, adult learning theory, evaluation methods, performance improvement strategies, and more.

To become certified as a CTDP, applicants must submit an application form along with their resume and proof of experience. After submitting the application form and passing the exam with a score of 70% or higher, applicants will receive their official CTDP certificate from IBCT.

The cost for applying for the CTDP certification varies depending on whether you are an IBCT member or not. For non-members, it costs $150 USD; for members it costs $75 USD.

3. Certified eLearning Professional (CeLP)

Certified eLearning Professional (CeLP) is a certification program that recognizes individuals who have demonstrated expertise in the field of eLearning. It is designed for professionals who are involved in the design, development, implementation, and management of eLearning programs.

The CeLP certification requires applicants to pass a comprehensive exam that covers topics such as instructional design, learning technologies, project management, and evaluation. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions and takes approximately two hours to complete.

To qualify for the CeLP certification, applicants must have at least two years of experience in the field of eLearning or related areas. Applicants must also demonstrate knowledge of current trends and best practices in the field.

The cost to obtain the CeLP certification is $495 USD. This fee includes access to study materials, registration for the exam, and a one-year membership in the International Association for Learning Professionals (IALP).

4. ASTD Master Trainer Certification

ASTD Master Trainer Certification is a professional certification program designed to recognize individuals who have achieved an advanced level of knowledge and experience in the field of training and development. This certification is awarded by the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD), which is a professional association dedicated to advancing workplace learning and performance.

The ASTD Master Trainer Certification requires applicants to demonstrate their expertise in training, instructional design, facilitation, assessment, evaluation, and organizational development. To earn this certification, applicants must complete a rigorous application process that includes submitting an extensive portfolio of their work as well as passing two exams. The first exam covers topics such as adult learning theory, instructional design principles, facilitation skills, and assessment methods. The second exam focuses on organizational development concepts such as change management, teambuilding, and consulting skills.

The entire process typically takes between six months and one year to complete depending on the applicant’s experience level and availability for the required exams. The cost of the certification varies depending on whether or not you are an ASTD member; non-members pay $1,500 while members pay $1,200.

5. ATD Master Instructional Designer Certification

ATD Master Instructional Designer Certification is an advanced certification program designed to recognize professionals with expertise in instructional design. It is offered by the Association for Talent Development (ATD), a professional organization dedicated to helping individuals and organizations develop their knowledge, skills, and abilities. The certification requires applicants to demonstrate mastery of instructional design principles and techniques through a series of assessments.

The ATD Master Instructional Designer Certification program consists of four levels:

Level 1: Foundations of Instructional Design

This level focuses on the basic principles and concepts related to instructional design. It requires applicants to demonstrate knowledge of instructional design models, strategies, and processes.

Level 2: Advanced Instructional Design

This level focuses on more advanced topics such as designing for different learning styles, using technology to enhance instruction, and developing performance assessments. Applicants must demonstrate proficiency in these areas through written assignments and projects.

Level 3: Professional Practice in Instructional Design

This level focuses on the practical application of instructional design principles and techniques in real-world settings. Applicants must demonstrate their ability to apply their knowledge by creating sample lessons or courses that meet specific learning objectives.

Level 4: Mastery of Instructional Design

This final level focuses on the synthesis of all previous levels into a comprehensive understanding of instructional design theory and practice. Applicants must demonstrate mastery by creating a portfolio that includes evidence of their work throughout the program as well as an original project demonstrating their ability to apply their knowledge in a real-world setting.

The entire certification process typically takes between 6 months and 1 year depending on the applicant’s experience level and availability for coursework or other requirements. To get certified, applicants must complete all four levels of the program as well as pass an exam administered by ATD at the end of each level. The cost for the program varies depending on whether you are an ATD member or not; members pay $2,995 while non-members pay $3,495 for access to all four levels plus additional resources such as webinars, study guides, practice exams, etc.

6. Certified Knowledge Manager (CKM)

Certified Knowledge Manager (CKM) is a professional certification program that recognizes individuals who have achieved a high level of expertise in knowledge management. The certification is offered by the Knowledge Management Institute (KMI), which is an international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the practice and profession of knowledge management.

The CKM program consists of two parts: a written exam and an online assessment. The written exam covers topics such as knowledge management principles, practices, tools, and techniques. It also tests the individual’s ability to apply these concepts in real-world scenarios. The online assessment focuses on assessing the individual’s ability to design and implement knowledge management systems.

The entire process takes approximately three months from start to finish. During this time, individuals must complete the written exam, pass the online assessment, and submit their application for review by KMI’s Certification Committee. Once approved, they will receive their official CKM certificate.

The cost of obtaining a CKM certification depends on several factors such as location and type of course taken (online or in-person). Generally speaking, it costs between $500-$1000 USD to become certified in this field.

7. Certified Organizational Learning Facilitator (COLF)

Certified Organizational Learning Facilitator (COLF) is a certification program designed to help professionals develop the knowledge and skills necessary to facilitate organizational learning. The COLF certification is offered through the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).

The COLF certification requires a minimum of 20 hours of training, including 16 hours of core curriculum and 4 hours of elective courses. The core curriculum covers topics such as adult learning theory, facilitation techniques, group dynamics, and assessment methods. The elective courses provide additional instruction on topics related to organizational learning such as change management, conflict resolution, and leadership development.

To get the COLF certification, individuals must complete the required training courses and pass an exam administered by IACET. Once certified, individuals can use the COLF designation in their professional credentials.

The cost of the COLF certification varies depending on the provider offering it. Generally speaking, it can range from $400 to $1,000 or more for all associated fees including tuition costs and exam fees.

8. International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) Certified Performance Technologist (CPT)

The International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) Certified Performance Technologist (CPT) is an internationally recognized certification program that recognizes professionals who have achieved a high level of competency in the field of performance improvement. The CPT program was created to provide a standard of excellence for those working in the field and to recognize those individuals who have demonstrated their knowledge and skills.

The CPT program consists of three parts: an online course, a written exam, and a practical application project. The online course covers topics such as performance analysis, instructional design, evaluation, and change management. The written exam tests the candidate’s knowledge on these topics. Finally, the practical application project requires the candidate to demonstrate their ability to apply what they have learned in the course and on the written exam by designing and implementing a performance improvement project.

It typically takes about 6-12 months to complete all three parts of the CPT program. To get started, candidates must first register for the online course and pay a fee of $495 USD. Once registered, candidates can access all materials needed to complete the coursework. After completing the coursework, candidates must then register for and pass a proctored written exam which costs $195 USD. Finally, once both parts are completed successfully, candidates can submit their practical application project for review by ISPI staff which costs an additional $395 USD.

Once all three parts are completed successfully, candidates will be awarded with their CPT certification from ISPI which is valid for 3 years before needing to be renewed.

9. Association for Talent Development (ATD) Workplace Learning Professional Certificate

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) Workplace Learning Professional Certificate is a certificate program designed to help individuals develop the knowledge and skills needed to effectively design, develop, deliver, and evaluate learning programs in the workplace. This program provides an understanding of adult learning theory, instructional design principles, and evaluation techniques. It also covers topics such as how to create effective learning materials, use technology to support learning initiatives, and measure the impact of training on organizational performance.

The ATD Workplace Learning Professional Certificate is a self-paced program that can be completed in as little as 8 weeks or up to 6 months. The program consists of four courses: Foundations of Learning & Development; Designing Effective Learning Experiences; Delivering Effective Learning Experiences; and Evaluating & Measuring Learning Impact. Each course includes video lectures, readings, activities, case studies, quizzes, and other interactive elements.

To get the ATD Workplace Learning Professional Certificate you must complete all four courses within 6 months from the date you register for the first course. You must also pass each course with a score of 80% or higher in order to receive your certificate.

The cost for the ATD Workplace Learning Professional Certificate is $1,495 USD. This fee includes access to all four courses plus additional resources such as webinars and online forums where you can engage with other learners and instructors.

10. SHRM Learning System Certificate

The SHRM Learning System Certificate is a professional development program offered by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). It is designed to help HR professionals develop their knowledge and skills in the areas of human resource management, labor relations, and organizational development. The certificate program consists of three courses: Fundamentals of Human Resource Management, Labor Relations, and Organizational Development. Each course consists of 16 modules that cover topics such as recruitment, employee relations, compensation and benefits, training and development, performance management, and legal compliance.

The SHRM Learning System Certificate can be completed in approximately nine months. To earn the certificate, participants must complete all three courses within a 12-month period. Participants will receive an official certificate upon successful completion of all three courses.

To get the SHRM Learning System Certificate, participants must first purchase the program materials from SHRM's website or contact a local SHRM chapter for information on purchasing materials through them. Once purchased, participants should register for the program online at SHRM's website or contact their local chapter for registration instructions. After registering for the program, participants will have access to all course materials including study guides and practice exams. Once enrolled in the program, participants can work at their own pace to complete each course within 12 months.

The cost of the SHRM Learning System Certificate varies depending on whether you purchase the materials directly from SHRM or through a local chapter. Purchasing directly from SHRM costs $1125 USD plus shipping costs; purchasing through a local chapter may cost more or less depending on their pricing structure.

Do You Really Need a Learning and Development Specialist Certificate?

The answer to this question depends on your individual needs and goals. If you are looking to advance your career in the learning and development field, then a Learning and Development Specialist Certificate may be beneficial. This type of certification would provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the principles and practices related to learning and development, as well as give you the opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and skillset in this area.

However, if you are already working in the learning and development field, then it may not be necessary for you to pursue a Learning and Development Specialist Certificate. It is important to assess your current career goals and determine if such a certification would be beneficial for you. Additionally, consider whether or not there are other educational paths that could help you achieve your desired outcomes, such as taking additional courses or pursuing an advanced degree in the field.

Ultimately, it is up to you to decide whether or not a Learning and Development Specialist Certificate is right for you. Consider what type of role you want to have within the learning and development field, as well as if having such a certification would give you an edge over other applicants when applying for roles within this sector.

Related: Learning and Development Specialist Resume Examples

FAQs About Learning and Development Specialist Certifications

Q1: What is a Learning and Development Specialist Certification?

A1: A Learning and Development Specialist Certification is a professional certification that demonstrates your knowledge and expertise in the area of learning and development. It is designed to help you develop your skills and capabilities as a learning and development specialist, while also providing recognition for your achievements.

Q2: How do I become certified as a Learning and Development Specialist?

A2: To become certified as a Learning and Development Specialist, you must complete an accredited training program or course. Additionally, you may need to pass an exam or demonstrate relevant work experience in the field.

Q3: What are the benefits of becoming certified as a Learning and Development Specialist?

A3: Becoming certified as a Learning and Development Specialist can provide many benefits, including increased job opportunities, higher salaries, and greater credibility in the field. Additionally, certification can help you stay up-to-date on current trends in the field.

Q4: How long does it take to become certified as a Learning and Development Specialist?

A4: The amount of time it takes to become certified as a Learning and Development Specialist depends on the type of certification program or course you choose. Generally speaking, most programs require several months of study before taking an exam or demonstrating work experience.

Q5: Is there an expiration date for my certification?

A5: Yes, most certifications have an expiration date associated with them. You will need to renew your certification every few years in order to maintain its validity.