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The Best L&D Qualifications in 2023

If you currently work in, or are planning to work in learning and development, it’s fair to assume that you value learning and career development.

Just as you focus on those things for others in your career, sometimes it’s good to focus on yourself too. This year, think about your own career development for a change!

Here are 6 of the best L&D qualifications to enhance your career in 2023.

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1) CIPD Qualifications

When it comes to learning and development, there are a few qualifications to choose from and the decision of which level to study is based upon the quality of skills, knowledge and expertise you already hold. 

CIPD (which is short for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) is the professional body responsible for regulating quality and standards in the UK’s Human Resources and Learning and Development professions.

CIPD offers a variety of qualifications to encourage the development of people professionals, and to allow employers to get access to the skills they need in their organisations.

There are three CIPD qualifications to choose from if you take the L&D route, ordered according to their respective difficulty and the career level they’re suited to. They are:

CIPD Level 3 Foundation Certificate in People Practice

Aimed at: Those coming into the people profession for the first time and those without any prior experience of L&D.

The CIPD Level 3 Foundation Certificate in People Practice is an entry-level qualification. This is designed for people who want to break into the world of Learning and Development and who don’t have any existing experience in L&D roles or any prior knowledge of the specialism.

The course introduces you to the basic knowledge needed to work in the people profession and gives you the skills employers will expect to see in people applying for entry-level positions.

CIPD Level 5 Associate Diploma in Organisational Learning & Development

Aimed at: People with some experience in L&D and are looking to take on mid-level/managerial roles; could also suit those with no experience who have a degree and want to begin their studies at a higher level.

The CIPD Level 5 Associate Diploma in Organisational Learning & Development is designed for professionals who already have some experience in L&D – whether that’s in a specific L&D role or within a broader people role such as HR or management. It will allow you to develop the skills you need for more advanced L&D roles such as L&D Manager or Advisor.

During the comprehensive CIPD Associate Diploma in L&D, you’ll learn how training can create value for your organisation, how to facilitate personalised and performance-focused learning, which professional behaviours will be expected of you and much more.

CIPD Level 7 Advanced Diploma in Strategic Learning & Development

Aimed at: HR or L&D professionals with extensive experience and knowledge of Learning and Development or an HR degree.

As the highest level of qualification that CIPD offers, the Level 7 Advanced Diploma in Strategic Learning & Development is suited to those who are looking to reach the very top of the L&D career path.

Covering specialist topics such as organisational design and development, development strategies for performance and leadership and development management in context, the CIPD Advanced Diploma explores the complex issues that those in L&D decision-making, strategy and leadership roles need to make on a day-to-day basis.

The key advantage of CIPD qualifications over other L&D qualifications is the fact that they can often be studied completely online, without the need to attend a physical classroom.

This is perfect if you’re trying to juggle developing your career with the demands of a full-time job or a young family. Available wherever you have internet access, an online CIPD qualification can usually be completed around your existing schedule and give you greater flexibility than other types of qualifications.

Of course, this depends on the learning provider that you’ve chosen to study with. If studying online is something that appeals to you, you should find it relatively easy to find a provider (like us!) who specialises in delivering CIPD online.

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2) University Degree 

There’s no denying that despite a massive tripling of tuition fees in 2012, studying a degree at university is still a popular choice amongst learners as a way to advance their careers and in some cases, gain the experience of living away from home for the first time. 

According to the recent parliamentary research briefing, there were 767,000 applications for full-time undergraduate places through UCAS in 2022 - which was a new record level. And around 560,000 of these applicants were accepted.

Often L&D qualifications that are available at universities can be more specialised, focusing on a particular niche such as learning and development in a specific sector, or with a specific demographic. This can be useful if you already know what type of learning and development you want to be working in and you’re ready to differentiate your skillset and knowledge.

The exact type of degree you study will depend on your own interests. For most people, coming into learning and development for the first time, an undergraduate degree is a good option that will give you the skills you’ll need to win entry-level L&D positions. These typically take three years to four years to complete.

Be aware though: not all Learning and Development degrees that you can study at university will meet CIPD’s rigorous quality standards, so some degrees might not allow you to qualify for CIPD membership. It’s best to check the small print carefully before signing up for anything to check that your degree is recognised by the CIPD.

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3) Kirkpatrick Four Levels® Evaluation Certification Programme

Evaluating the success of training programmes is an important skill required of learning and development professionals.

The Kirkpatrick Four Levels® Evaluation Certification Programme is designed to teach you the necessary skills, knowledge and expertise to be able to confidently assess how well your learning and development strategy is working. It explores four key areas:

  • Reaction: How well employees engage with the training
  • Learning: What is or isn’t being learnt during the training
  • Behaviour: Changes in behaviour following training
  • Results: Using short-term observations and measurements to gauge long-term change

Kirkpatrick Bronze Level Certification

Completed over a two-day workshop online or in-person, the Bronze Level Certification will help you to explore what each of the Four Levels® measure, teaching you how to plan and how to apply the Kirkpatrick Model to your own personalised training plan at the same time. Once you’ve completed the Kirkpatrick Bronze Level Certification, you’re considered fully Kirkpatrick certified!

Kirkpatrick Silver Level Certification

The Silver Level Certification is the next level up from the Bronze Level Certification and teaches you how to put a plan into practice and report results in a stakeholder-friendly manner.

Kirkpatrick Gold Level Certification

A distinction that’s awarded to Kirkpatrick Silver Level Certified individuals for free, the Gold is the highest Kirkpatrick honour that you can receive. To qualify, you’ll have to present or publish your own training strategy or results that have been proven to benefit other training or business professionals.

If you’d like to find out more about Kirkpatrick, how it works and the benefits of the process, visit their website for more information. 

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4) City and Guilds Qualifications

Designed to replace the Learning and Development NVQs, a new range of City and Guilds qualifications are available for L&D jobseekers and professionals looking to enhance their knowledge and professional practice.

With an emphasis on vocational learning, City and Guilds qualifications like the Level 3 Award in Understanding the Principles and Practices of Learning and Development and Level 3 Certificate in Learning and Development are good for giving you a thorough grounding in the basic knowledge you’ll need in entry-level positions.

Level 4 City and Guilds qualifications, like the Level 4 Award or Level 4 Certificate in Learning and Development are good options for L&D professionals in entry level roles who are looking to progress to more intermediate ones.

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5) CIPD Level 3 L&D Practitioner Apprenticeship

The CIPD Level 3 L&D Practitioner Apprenticeship is perfect for people who learn best on the job and don’t like to be trapped behind a desk studying from a textbook. If you’re looking to get started in learning and development but don’t like the idea of being stuck in college or university for years, an apprenticeship could be the option for you.

Apprenticeships combine learning with work. With an apprenticeship, you’ll primarily learn on the job and attend regular tutorials outside of your workplace to cement the knowledge you’re building. One of the key draws of apprenticeships is that because you’re employed you’ll be earning money whilst you’re studying.

Generally, apprenticeships run for around one to one and a half years. Many students receive the offer of a full-time job at the company they’re studying at after completing their apprenticeship too.

If your employer has an annual salary bill below £3million, you could qualify for the government funding 95% of your apprenticeship also. 

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6)  ITOL Diploma in L&D Management

The Institute of Training and Organisational Learning was granted Institute status by the UK government in the year 2000. Dedicated to advancing the development of trainers and training professionals, ITOL is one of the only professional institutes in the UK that is directly focused on learning and development, rather than other specialisms. Its ethos is founded on the idea that learning and development should be considered a specific professional area itself, rather than just an extension of human resources.

Accredited by ITOL and equivalent to QCF Level 6 & EQF Level 6, the ITOL Diploma in Learning and Development Management is perfect for experienced L&D professionals who are looking to move up into more senior roles, responsible for formulating, implementing and monitoring L&D in an organisation. The diploma covers a broad range of topics that those looking to progress in their careers will need to know to climb up the company ladder.

It’s delivered in the form of a four-day, face-to-face workshop with knowledge-focused and workplace-based assignments and a presentation.

If you’re looking for a diploma that’s created by trainers, specifically for trainers, this qualification is for you!

If you love learning and helping others to improve their skills, Learning and Development is one of the most fulfilling places to carve out a career. Developing your skills and learning new things is never easy but in the end, the rewards in terms of more senior positions and more confidence at work are more than worth the effort!


Develop your learning and development career with a CIPD L&D qualification that you can complete from home. Download your free course guide today.

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