by Lindsey Davis, CPTD
Owner/Director of ModEd, , a learning and development company.
Shared with permission from the ATD Certification Institute

Since graduating with my master’s degree in learning design and technology in 2015, I’ve developed digital courses and in-person training materials for government organizations, corporations, healthcare professionals, and small businesses. I’ve worked in instructional design, process improvement, project management, and software development. Though I had a clear, well-designed image in my mind that demonstrated how all my experiences tied together, it wasn’t as clear from the outside looking in. When the Association for Talent Development (ATD) released its Talent Development Capability Model, I recognized how each of the skillsets within the capability model were related and demonstrated the complete talent development profession.

I decided to begin studying for the certification exam in January 2020 and attended an in-person Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) course in February 2020. At that time, the CPTD study guide and Talent Development Body of Knowledge (TDBoK) were still being developed, and the CPLP was still being offered. During the course I networked with talent development professionals who were on the same path as me. Some were taking the CPLP exam in the spring, while others were hoping to prepare for the pilot of the new CPTD exam, as I was. At the end of the course, a few of us exchanged contact information and agreed to stay in touch.

The CPTD preparation course and TDBoK were released in March 2020, and we quickly formed a study group to dive into the content. A colleague and I met on virtual meetings every week for approximately two hours to dive into the content. While all of this was happening, the world was responding to the growing pandemic. The demand for virtual solutions was rapidly increasing as a significant percentage of the workforce was moving to remote work. It was becoming glaringly obvious that the talent development industry was going to be making enormous strides and, fortunately, I was growing along with it.

For our study sessions we decided that we would each prepare to present one or two topics to each other once a week. For our presentations, we each prepared presentation slides with study notes. We also created digital quiz cards to support content retention. After completing all the capability topics, each of us took the practice exam and scored similarly. With just a few weeks left until the exam, we divided the practice exam questions and dove into the TDBoK to study the reasoning behind each answer and presented the information to each other for discussion and retention.

In addition to the CPTD’s preparation course, one of the most helpful resources was ATD’s Foundations of Talent Development written by Elaine Biech. This publication is a practical guide for implementing the theory and practice covered in the TDBoK. It also serves as a fabulous source for cases studies to prepare for the case management questions on the certification exam.

By the fall of 2020, I decided that I was ready to take the exam, and I had built the confidence that I needed to also focus on the structure and trajectory of my company, ModEd. I sat for the CPTD pilot exam in September 2020 and was notified in November that I had passed. Since passing the exam, I have continued to experience success in growing my business and expanding my portfolio. I have been able to focus my attention on building experiences in those capabilities that I felt I needed to improve upon. The relationships, knowledge, and awareness that resulted in the preparation for the exam were well worth the time and effort that it took to study for and achieve CPTD certification.

If you are interested in preparing for the CPTD exam, I would encourage you to compare your experiences and skills to the Talent Development Capability Model. Explore opportunities to gain experiences in those areas where you see gaps in understanding and application. I would also encourage you to explore ATD publications in those areas. The talent development industry will continue to evolve and grow and the demand to stay current in our field will be imperative to our success as talent development professionals. If you would like to connect and learn more about my experiences, please feel free to connect at

The CPTD Proves You Are a Complete Talent Development Professional

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