Skip to main content

Whether you’re new to L&D or looking to upskill, a learning and development certification can help set you apart and add real value to your organization.

Additional training will provide you with the knowledge and tools to effectively navigate learning, development, and training for any organization.

Learning and development professionals can have a huge impact on a team’s performance improvement. 

As a learning and development specialist, you’ll support, create, plan, and run effective training programs 

If you’re looking for a course to help you dive into learning and development, scroll down to learn more.

13 Best L&D Certifications

1. ATD Associate Professional in Talent Development (APTD)

If you’re an HR professional or trainer with 3-5 years of experience under your belt, you might consider an Associate Professional in Talent Development (APTD).

It's a great option for those looking to focus on talent development in their careers, stand out in a competitive job market, or take a new career step.

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 worldwide, 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/A

2. ATD Certified Professional in Talent Development (CPTD)

ATD also offers a Certified Professional in Talent Development (CPTD) for HR professionals taking the next 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

3. ATD Instructional Design Certificate

ATD offers a certificate to help those in the development manager career path gain an in-depth understanding of building effective learning experiences. 

As an instructional designer, you can make an impact on an organization by developing engaging, outcome-based trainings and learning events.

This online course is suited for working professionals looking for either flexible, self-paced path or an instructor-led course both in-person or live online. It consists of 10 modules that cover the fundamentals of instructional design, developing materials, and how to evaluate a training’s effectiveness.

This course is designed to help students understand the theory behind effective training modules. The right instructional design can support your organization’s performance management strategy to develop their employees and improve their individual performance.

  • Price: $1,995 members; $2,245 non-members
  • Duration: 2 weeks
  • Exam Required: N/A
  • Online, In-Person, or both?: Both
  • How many hours of instruction: 21 learning credit hours
  • Eligibility Requirements: N/A

In addition, ATD also offers a similar course in e-learning instructional design.

4. Certified Professional in Training Management (CPTM)

The Certified Professional in Training Management (CPTM) is a great option 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 10 interactive training modules and experienced speakers with CPTM certification. You’ll not only be prepared to take the exam but have a plan of action aligned with your training and business goals.

  • 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 weeks of modules
  • Eligibility Requirements: N/A
Download our 2024 Workplace Trends Report to stay ahead in a transforming HR landscape. Get insights from leaders on trends that will define your strategies in AI, talent dynamics, and DEI.

Download our 2024 Workplace Trends Report to stay ahead in a transforming HR landscape. Get insights from leaders on trends that will define your strategies in AI, talent dynamics, and DEI.

  • By submitting this form, you agree to receive the requested content, our newsletter, and occasional emails related to People Managing People. You can unsubscribe at any time. For more details, please review our privacy policy. We're protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

5. Certified Learning & Development Professional (CLDP)

The Certified Learning and Development Professional (CLDP) program from the Global Skill Development Council is an internationally recognized certification trusted in 90+ countries.

It’s designed to prepare L&D professionals with the science of talent development in organizations, corporate training, performance management, and succession planning.

Through a mixture of live sessions and e-learning sessions, you’ll work through 17 modules including how to align L&D with business needs, different learning methods, developing L&D policies, needs analysis, and designing programs and measuring their effectiveness.

It’s curated by some of the world's leading L&D experts from top universities like Harvard, Yale, and MIT.

CLDP-certified professionals also gain access to GSDC CLDP E-Learning sessions from industry experts and become members of a global network of GSDC CLDP-certified professionals to network.

  • Price: $800
  • Duration: Additional information available upon request
  • Exam Required: Yes
  • Online, In-Person, or both?: Online
  • How many hours of instruction: 30
  • Eligibility Requirements: Aimed at senior L&D professionals

6. Agile Certification for HR and Learning and Development

Training Industry also offers an Agile Certification for HR professionals or L&D professionals looking to revitalize their training or just wanting to deepen their knowledge in L&D. 

This course specifically focuses on Agile Learning Design, a method organizations use to cut down their “time-to-proficiency” and focuses on speed, flexibility, and collaboration.

You’ll learn project management, how to optimize workflows, and how to bring agile learning design to your training programs for work. You’ll come away with a growth mindset and the tools to support change management in your team. At the end of the course, you’ll also receive a certificate and digital badge

  • Price: $1,516 (if you’re a pre-approved CPTM) or $1,895
  • 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

7. 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.

This certification program helps human resource management build or refine learning programs and L&D strategies on your team. 

Through online courses and quizzes, you’ll cover topics from skill gap analysis, corporate training or coaching, and learning and development analytics. Trusted by organizations like Meta, PWC, and Proctor & Gamble, this certificate program supports learners around the world.

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

  • Price: $975 individual course or $9,750 for full access & continuous learning
  • Duration: Self-paced
  • Exam Required: Capstone Project Required
  • Online, In-Person, or both?: Online
  • How many hours of instruction: 23.5 hrs
  • Eligibility Requirements: N/A

8. Certified Learning Strategist (CLS)

The Brandon Hall Group (BHG) is a world-renowned organization for HR professionals seeking certification or resources on learning and strategy.

BHG offers a Certified Learning Strategist (CLS) program that helps candidates showcase their understanding of fundamental competencies like design thinking, mentoring, inclusivity, and how to implement the latest learning management systems (LMS).

This self-paced course is available online in three phases with interactive components. Phase I starts with essentials on instructional design 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 create their own case study from their organization. 

CLS is perfect for independent learners who succeed through e-learning and are looking to broaden their own experience as a training and development professional across several industries.

  • 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

9. Cornell’s Employee Training & Development Course

Continue your education after you earn your Bachelor's Degree and dive into Employee Training and development through Cornell University’s continuing education course.

This program provides you with the tools to lead, design, and champion employee training modules for any company. You’ll explore and evaluate existing training in organizations as well as analyze training needs to suit a company’s goals. 

Get familiar with facilitating training, learn how to secure managerial or peer support, and understand how to evaluate an initiative’s success.

This course is perfect for small business owners, entry-level or early-careerists with 0-5 years of experience from a broad range of organizations. Those who prefer instructor-led learning will have fellow cohort members to engage with as they dive in together.

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

10. Certificate in Corporate Training

Future Learn offers a Certificate in Corporate Training to “train the trainer.” You’ll learn how to facilitate training programs, instructional design, and L&D strategy. This accredited 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.

There are four courses in total and, while there isn’t a single, comprehensive exam for accreditation, each course does include 1 or 2 tests at its conclusion.

  • Price: $39/mo membership
  • Duration: 2 weeks per course; Total of 4 courses
  • Exam Required: No
  • Online, In-Person, or both?: Online
  • How many hours of instruction: 2-3hrs/wk
  • Eligibility Requirements: N/A

11. Certificate in Designing Online Learning (CDOL)

As a lot of training is delivered online, learning how to design and deliver effective online courses is a vital skill.

The Certificate in Designing Online Learning (CDOL) from LPI will help you design and deliver engaging online classroom sessions, develop comprehensive lesson plans, facilitator guides, presentations, and participant materials, and re-purpose traditional classroom exercises for collaborative online learning.

  • Price: $39/mo membership
  • Duration: ~40 hours of live sessions and self-study
  • Exam Required: No
  • Online, In-Person, or both?: Online
  • How many hours of instruction: Variable
  • Eligibility Requirements: N/A

12. Center for Executive Coaching - Core Program

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

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 just out, begin with their Core Program

Through this course, you’ll master creating corporate training for clients, how to help leaders with their own performance management, or leaders undergoing a career transition. 

You’ll also work closely with certified coaches to understand general methodologies and practical applications.

  • 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

13. George Washington University’s Graduate Certificate in Leadership Development

George Washington University’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development (GSEHD) offers a certificate in Leadership Development for human resource or business professionals looking to engage and develop their organizational talent.

This is an in-person or online certified course designed for working professionals. It covers instructional design, group processes, and adult learning, along with learning and development diagnosis and consulting strategies. Learners can work with advisors to tailor their focus as they desire.

The GSEHD offers a unique learning experience that helps professionals engage with experienced workplace leaders across different industries, from private to nonprofits. 

Understand how to develop learning programs and build strategies that can apply to real-world organizations.

  • Price: Available upon request
  • Duration: Additional information available upon request
  • Exam Required: N/A
  • Online, In-Person, or both?: Both
  • How many hours of instruction: Additional information available upon request
  • Eligibility Requirements: Bachelor’s Degree

Types Of Learning And Development Certification

Looking over the list of potential courses, you might be wondering how to start determining which is best for you.

Each course and provider has a unique approach to online or in-person learning, so be sure to take that into consideration.

However, overall, learning and development can be divided 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 strategy to support individuals.
  • Corporate Coaching—perfect for consultants, coaches, and HR professionals who want to work with executives and leaders. Great for those looking to work closely with change makers at an organization.
  • Learning Specialist—think consultants, coaches, workplace leaders, or HR professionals who want to focus on training or learning & development programs within an organization.
  • Training Management—you’ll look deeper into the principles of L&D and performance improvement so 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 consider that as you take your next steps.

Choosing the right learning and development (L&D) certification involves several considerations to ensure it aligns with your career goals, learning style, and industry demands.

How To Choose The Right L&D Certification

1. Define your goals

Start by clarifying your career objectives and the specific skills or knowledge areas you want to develop through a certification. Consider whether you aim to specialize in a particular aspect of L&D, advance to a higher role, or broaden your expertise across the field.

2. Research certification programs

Explore different L&D certification programs available from reputable organizations, institutions, and professional associations (this list is a good start!). 

Look for programs that offer comprehensive curriculum coverage, industry recognition, and practical relevance to your career aspirations.

  • Check accreditation and reputation: Verify the accreditation status and reputation of the certification provider. Accredited programs adhere to established quality standards, ensuring that your certification holds credibility and value in the eyes of employers and peers.
  • Review curriculum and requirements: Evaluate the content, structure, and requirements of each certification program to determine if they match your learning preferences and schedule. Assess factors such as course duration, delivery format (e.g., online, in-person), assessment methods, and prerequisites.
  • Assess instructor qualifications and support: Consider the qualifications and expertise of instructors or facilitators involved in delivering the certification program. Look for programs that offer access to experienced educators, mentors, or subject matter experts who can provide guidance and support throughout your learning journey.
  • Consider industry relevance: Choose a certification program that reflects current industry trends, best practices, and emerging technologies in L&D. Look for programs that incorporate real-world case studies, practical exercises, and hands-on experience to ensure the applicability of your learning in professional settings.
  • Evaluate costs and return on investment (ROI): Assess the cost of enrolling in each certification program, including tuition fees, materials, exam fees, and any additional expenses. Compare the investment required against the potential career benefits, such as increased earning potential, job opportunities, and professional advancement.
  • Seek feedback and reviews: Research feedback and reviews from past participants or professionals who have completed the certification program (Reddit and other forums are useful here). Consider their insights regarding the program's effectiveness, relevance, and overall satisfaction to gain a better understanding of what to expect.
  • Consider specialized certifications: Depending on your career goals and interests, explore specialized L&D certifications that focus on specific areas such as instructional design, e-learning development, leadership development, talent management, or coaching.
  • Consult with peers and mentors: Seek advice from experienced professionals, mentors, or colleagues who have pursued L&D certifications. They can offer valuable recommendations, insights, and firsthand experiences to help you make an informed decision.

By following these steps and conducting thorough research, you can choose an L&D certification that empowers you to enhance your skills, advance your career, and make meaningful contributions to the field of learning and development.

Benefits Of Earning An L&D Certification

Investing in oneself is never a bad thing, but here are the specific benefits of enrollment in an L&D certification.

  • Industry-specific skills and knowledge: An L&D certification will provide structured learning paths that cover essential concepts, techniques, and best practices in L&D. Completing a certification can help you develop a comprehensive skill set, including instructional design, training delivery, needs analysis, and evaluation methods.
  • Credibility and recognition: Holding a recognized certification demonstrates your commitment to the field of L&D and validates your expertise to employers, colleagues, and clients.
  • Career advancement: Certifications can open doors to new career opportunities and advancement within the L&D field.
  • Networking opportunities: Certification programs often provide opportunities to connect with other professionals in the field through workshops, seminars, online forums, and networking events. Building a strong professional network can provide valuable insights, support, and collaboration opportunities throughout your career.
  • Stay updated with industry trends: L&D certification programs are designed to incorporate the latest industry trends, technologies, and research findings. By participating in a certification program, you can stay abreast of emerging practices and innovative approaches in the field, ensuring that your skills remain relevant and competitive.
  • Increased job satisfaction: Acquiring new knowledge and skills through certification can lead to increased job satisfaction and confidence in your abilities. As you apply your learning to real-world scenarios, you may experience greater fulfillment in your work and achieve better outcomes for your organization.
  • Personal growth: Beyond professional benefits, pursuing a certification in L&D can contribute to your personal growth and development. It challenges you to expand your horizons, think critically, and problem-solve creatively, fostering a sense of accomplishment and self-improvement.

Have Fun Learning And Connecting

No matter what course you select, earning 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.

For more certifications, check out our roundups of the best HR certifications and best DEI certifications.

Join The People Managing People Community

For further career development advice and support, join our supportive community of HR and business leaders sharing knowledge and best practices to help you grow in your career and make greater impact in your organization.

By Finn Bartram

Finn is an editor 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.