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Personal Development
9 Best Learning And Development Certifications 2023

Whether you’re new to HR or looking to upskill, a learning and development certification can help set you apart and provide you the knowledge and tools to effectively navigate learning, development, and training for any team.

Training and development specialists support, create, plan and run effective training programs for organizations either as a full-time HR professional, leader, or consultant.

1. Associate Professional in Talent Development

Earn your Associate Professional in Talent Development (APTD) through the Association for Talent Development (ATD). This HR certification is great for those early-ish in their careers with about 3-5 years of experience. If you’re looking to focus on talent development or looking to stand out in a competitive job market, an APTD might be right for you.

The APTD credential covers the foundational strategies of talent development. In this particular course, you’ll focus on the Talent Development Capability Model™, made up of organizational impact, interpersonal skill-building, and professional development. 

The exam price does not include preparatory courses, so this method of certification is ideal for anyone who prefers independent-study and managing their own time. Previous candidates suggested 60-80 hours or 3-6 months of preparation.

ATD is the largest association for learning professionals world-wide, and online membership will open their large e-library of resources or training needs. You can also join a chapter near you to network and connect with motivated professionals.

  • Price: $499 for members or $699 for non-members
  • Duration: Exam length is 2hrs
  • Exam Required: Yes
  • Online, In-Person, or both?: Both
  • How many hours of instruction: Self-study
  • Eligibility Requirements: N/A3

2. Certified Professional in Talent Development (CPTD)

ATD also offers a Certified Professional in Talent Development (CPTD) for HR professionals taking the next critical step in their careers. Formerly known as Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP), the CPTD certification focuses on ATD’s new Talent Development Model™ as a standard for talent development.

Ideal for candidates with 5+ years of work experience, this certification measures your broad knowledge and skills application to enhance employee talent development and decision making. The ATD certification does not include a course, so this certification is perfect for independent learners who can organize their own preparation.

There are no prerequisites for this exam but candidates should be able to demonstrate their abilities and knowledge from topics around data and metrics, talent strategy and management, training delivery and facilitation, and cultural awareness and inclusion.

  • Price: $975 for members or $1350 for non-members
  • Duration: Exam length is 3hrs
  • Exam Required: Yes
  • Online, In-Person, or both?: Both
  • How many hours of instruction: Self-paced
  • Eligibility Requirements: N/A

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3. Certified Professional in Training Management (CPTM)

The Certified Professional in Training Management (CPTM) is perfect for those interested in a role as a training manager. As a CPTM, you’ll have the skills to lead corporate training programs, create learning experiences, and drive goals tied back to your organization’s business success.

The Training Industry, a leading publication in the adult learning industry, offers a CPTM track and exam. Candidates range from those currently leading or looking to lead training departments and external consultants or coaches. Your course includes access to training modules and real-world scenario application to prepare you for the certification exam.

  • Price: $3,495
  • Duration: Self-paced study; 2 mos on avg
  • Exam Required: Yes
  • Online, In-Person, or both?: Online
  • How many hours of instruction: 6 wks of modules
  • Eligibility Requirements: N/A

4. Agile Certification for HR and Learning and Development

Training Industry also offers an Agile Certification for HR professionals for leaders looking to support organizations with a more flexible, proactive system of support or those looking to deepen their strategies as an L&D professional. At the end of the course, you’ll receive a certificate and digital badge you can add to your profile or email.

You’ll learn design and project management in today’s new way of working, optimizing workflows, and how to embrace a growth mindset to foster a culture of learning. This course will provide the tools to support a growth mindset and change management.

  • Price: Available upon request
  • Duration: 3 half days
  • Exam Required: N/A
  • Online, In-Person, or both?: Online
  • How many hours of instruction: 5 hours/session
  • Eligibility Requirements: N/A

5. AIHR Learning & Development Certification

The Academy to Innovate HR (AIHR) is the world’s largest online HR course catalog, offering HR pros a swath of training programs to take their careers to the next level.

Their certification program helps those responsible for human resource management build or refine learning programs for their organization. Through online courses and quizzes, you’ll cover topics from skill gap analysis, corporate training or coaching, and learning and development analytics.

This comprehensive course requires a capstone project where you’ll take the skills covered in this program into real-life practice.

  • Price: Available upon request
  • Duration: 3 hrs / wk over 10 wks
  • Exam Required: Capstone Project Required
  • Online, In-Person, or both?: Online
  • How many hours of instruction: Self-Paced
  • Eligibility Requirements: N/A

6. Certified Learning Specialist (CLS)

The Brandon Hall Group (BHG) is the go-to for many organizations and HR professionals seeking certification or resources on learning and strategy.

BHG offers a Certified Learning Specialist (CLS) program helping candidates understand basic competencies such as design thinking, mentoring, inclusivity, and and how to implement the latest technologies such as learning management systems (LMS).

This self-paced course is available online in three phases with interactive components. Phase I starts with basics on coaching and mentoring, centering on interpersonal skills and strategy. Phase II exercises your competency from your previous phase with case study application to put you in real world scenarios. Phase III asks candidates to apply what they’ve learned to a case study in their organization. 

CLS is perfect for independent students who succeed through e-learning and are looking to further their career as a training and development professional.

  • Price: Available upon request
  • Duration: Self-Paced
  • Exam Required: N/A
  • Online, In-Person, or both?: Online
  • How many hours of instruction: 40 hrs
  • Eligibility Requirements: N/A

7. Cornell’s Employee Training & Development Course

Take your education to the next level after you earned your Bachelor's Degree, and dive into Employee Training & Development through Cornell University’s continuing education course.

This program provides you with the tools to lead, design, and champion employee training modules for an organization. You’ll explore and evaluate existing training in organizations as well as analyzing training needs to suit the organization’s goals, facilitating the transfer of learning to secure managerial or peer support, and evaluating the success of initiatives.

This course is perfect for managers, entry-level, or early-careerists with 0-5 years of experience from a broad range of organizations. If you’re someone hoping to develop talent, improve employee performance, and build a learning culture, this is the right course for you.

  • Price: Price upon request
  • Duration: 2 weeks
  • Exam Required:
  • Online, In-Person, or both?: Online
  • How many hours of instruction: 3-5 hrs/wk
  • Eligibility Requirements: Bachelor’s Degree or higher

8. Corporate Training Certificate

Future Learn offers a Corporate Training Certificate introductory program with the aim of providing you with the skills to assess an organization’s needs and deliver a winning workplace training program. This Future Learn course was created by ATC Training and is a certified CPD course.

Through this program, you’ll learn about the training cycle and how to conduct a Training Needs Analysis to create engaging lesson plans and training materials. You’ll see how to present courses most effectively online or in-person and what KPIs to monitor for success.

  • Price: $39/mo membership
  • Duration: 10 wks
  • Exam Required: No
  • Online, In-Person, or both?: Online
  • How many hours of instruction: 2-3hrs/wk
  • Eligibility Requirements: N/A

9. Center for Executive Coaching - Core Program

HR professionals who are looking to take their current skills on learning and development, team facilitation, or other adult learning programs should consider a path towards executive coaching as their next career step.

As an executive coach you’ll work closely with C-Suite, Board members, and senior managers to help leadership support their stakeholders and their business reach better. You’ll also give them the tools to master any issues or challenges that they encounter in their roles.

The Center for Executive Coaching offers a variety of certification courses but, if you’re starting out, start with their core program. Through this course, you’ll master creating coaching programs for clients, how to help leaders starting a growing business, or leaders undergoing a career transition. You’ll also work closely with certified coaches to understand practical application.

  • Price: $4,900
  • Duration: Self-paced with weekly webinars to join live or view recorded
  • Exam Required: Yes
  • Online, In-Person, or both?: Online
  • How many hours of instruction: 30-60 hours (depending if you hold a Master’s Degree)
  • Eligibility Requirements: Bachelor’s Degree

How to Choose a Learning and Development Certification

Looking over the list of potential courses, you might be wondering how to start determining which is best for you—they all look so useful!

Each course and provider brings its own approach for online or in-person learning, so be sure to put that into consideration.

However, overall, learning and development can divide into a few areas of expertise:

  • Talent Development—great for workplace leaders or HR professionals looking to support organization’s Learning and Development programs and individual employees’ own success
  • Corporate Coaching—perfect for consultants, coaches, and HR professionals who want to work with executives, leaders, and larger organizations. Great for those looking to work closely with changemakers at an organization undergoing career transitions, business growth, and more.
  • Learning Specialist—think consultants, coaches, workplace leaders, or HR professionals who want to focus on developing training or learning & development programs within an organization.
  • Training Management—you’ll look deeper into the principles of learning and development and how they can align to business goals and industry standards.

Each learning and development certification course might also depend on your experience or years in your industry, so be sure to put that into consideration as you take your next steps.

Get Ready to Jump In

No matter what course you select, a learning and development certification is a great way to deepen your understanding on current strategies and methods to support an organization. It sets you apart in the hiring pool. And it continues your own journey as a lifelong learner.

Some further resources to help you expand your skills and progress in your career:

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By Finn Bartram

Finn is editor-in-chief at People Managing People. He's passionate about growing organizations where people are empowered to continuously improve and genuinely enjoy coming to work. If not at his desk, you can find him playing sports or enjoying the great outdoors.