Nearly every profession today has a certification that you can pursue in the effort to clearly identify your area of expertise. The training industry is no different.
Two of the more popular certifications for training professionals include Certified Professional in Learning & Performance (CPLP) as offered by the Association of Talent Development, and the Certified Performance Technologist (CPT) as offered by the International Society for Performance Improvement.
There are others available, but these two capture the majority of the market. They are also the most commonly cited certifications in open job descriptions.
Many elearning and training professionals eventually wonder if pursing a certification in the field is worth it. The reality is that it depends on a lot of different factors.
First, the biggest down-side to a certification is that they are costly to get and maintain, both monetarily and in relation to time. Once certified, you need to take courses to earn credits to stay certified and these courses are hardly ever free.
The associations that market these certifications will contend that the increase in salary you receive by having the certification will more than pay for the certification itself. This may be true in many cases, but it is certainly not a given.
As an informal test, I did a quick job search for open positions requesting that candidates have the CPLP designation. In looking at the results, I found that one position was paying $112,000 per year, another $79,000, and another at $65,000. As you can see, there is a wide disparity.
Why the big gaps? The difference in the salary came down to the position, in particular the experience required.
This actually brings me to an important point: experience will always trump professional credentials. A company won’t turn away a job applicant who has relevant experience just because they don’t have a certain certification.
So why get certified at all? That is something you’ll need to determine for yourself. Certification isn’t just about the letters at the end of your name, it’s also beneficial for networking opportunities. If you care about your industry, then this is important as it could open up doors in the future for your career.
Becoming certified and maintaining that certification requires that you to seek out learning opportunities, which will ensure that you are aware of the latest industry trends.
It is important to note that certification doesn’t guarantee anything. It doesn’t mean you’ll make more money or get a promotion. It doesn’t mean you’ll instantly gain the respect of others. You have to make the certification work for you by working hard, smart, and passionately in your field. Do this and the benefits listed above will follow naturally.