How to Ask Your Boss for Certification Money

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You’ve analyzed industry trends and projected job growth, studied the training and certifications on the market and worked out a viable career path for yourself. Now all you need is the cash to fund your improvements. Certification and training are facts of life for IT professionals, and so is footing the cost of both. There are ways to defray the cost of keeping up to speed, and one way is to ask your boss for funding. But before you go into the big office with hat in hand, find yourself a hook, calculate the cost and benefit for the company and make sure that your job performance and reviews warrant this kind of action.

The Hook.
The best way to obtain funds for certification and training is to time your request with an acknowledged need or lack in the company’s IT department. Your company may be spending a lot of money on consultants or part-time contractors whose knowledge and expertise are only slightly more advanced than your own. With the right training and certification, you could step into the consultants’ role and in a relatively short period of time, eliminate the recurring fees for those services and save the company some money. People only go looking for what they can’t find at home. This old saying is typically used in a romantic relationship context, but it applies on the job as well. With the economy on an upswing and hiring numbers growing in IT, your company may be looking for the best and brightest to add to its staff. If you can convince your boss that you are the best and will be the brightest with a little gilding and a crisp new credential under your belt, why should they look elsewhere?


The Cost and Benefit for the Company.
One obvious advantage for a company whose IT staff hold the latest and greatest certification credentials is the appeal for clients. Clients will have more confidence in a company whose staff are at the top of their game and can provide the best service. Emphasize the hidden costs for a business that does not encouraging training, specifically, the cost of new employee acquisition and orientation, and the loss of potential clients and top talent to the competition. Clients often value the fact that vendor staff have experience and credentials to verify their skills. Companies may even request employee bios and resumes to see the details of service their dollars are buying. Let the boss know that having employees with specific and pertinent certifications can help distinguish the company from less-certified bidders and bring in new accounts.


The Best You’ve Got Is What They Get.
If you’re late every day and your job file is chock full of reprimands, you might want to work on improving your job performance before you make any requests. But if your soft, intrapersonal and project management skills are an obvious asset, and you’ve been congratulated or acknowledged by senior staff for your stellar work, go for it! It may sound subjective and hard to prove that you’re doing a good job, but it’s fairly easy and straightforward to document your achievements and performance. Your company may have started the process with yearly reviews. These can be a great source of concrete proof that you’re worth a training investment. Keep a list of your accomplishments. They might include: innovative projects you initiated or worked on that saved the company money or increased productivity (which equals money); projects you completed on or ahead of time; new business you brought in; or letters and recommendations from satisfied clients. Perform a self-assessment as part of your yearly review to get the ball rolling and demonstrate that receiving feedback is important for you, and that you take your career seriously.


Despite your well-thought-out, professional and perfectly timed presentation of benefits, your employer may not immediately grant your request. They may object because they’re worried if they provide training you’ll take it and go find a higher-paying job elsewhere. Or the boss might say, “It’s too expensive to send everyone to training,” and worry that once he opens that door for you, he won’t be able to control the cost. But a company can encourage skill acquisition without sending everyone to a training boot camp at several thousand dollars a head. Training could be made available on a selective basis to key employees who are in positions to directly benefit the company’s strategic business goals and have proven to be enthusiastic students.


Be ready to sign a contract or provide some other reassurance that you won’t get the training dollars and run. Most employees don’t leave a company for just one reason. If you are happy where you are, see a growth path for yourself and feel fulfilled in your job, let your boss know. It could go a long way to assuage his concerns and get you what you want.

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