How To Convince Your Employer To Pay For Your Certification

Are you thinking about getting a certification, but you’d like your employer to pay for it? They don’t always do this automatically. Here’s a few tips on how to convince your employer to pay for your certification.

Why Would You Want To Get Certified?

First of all, let’s start with why you want to get certified.

Getting a certification has a lot of benefits for you. The main one is to increase your knowledge in a certain area. As IT is a constantly changing industry, keeping up to date and improving your skills is important. This is true no matter what your specialisation is – programming, testing, project management or something else.

It also helps you become more marketable, both within your own company and to other recruiters, if you end up looking for a job one day. Having a certification shows that you meet a minimum standard of knowledge, which is used a lot in job applications.

That’s all well and good, but how do you get your employer to pay for your certification? Exams and courses can be expensive, ranging from $100 for some, all the way up to several thousand for some of the more advanced certifications. Let’s take a look at some ways you can convince your boss or employer to pay for it.


1 – Your Knowledge Can Save Them Money

If you need to make your case, one of the best arguments is that your knowledge can eventually save them money.

Companies care a lot about money, not only how they can earn more, but about how they can save money. If you can demonstrate how you can save them money, they will be happier with that.

You can save your employer money by getting a certification by putting your skills to use. You will likely be more efficient at what you do, due to the improved knowledge. You’ll learn better ways of doing things, learn how to spot problems before they arise, and many other benefits. All of these things can add up to help the employer save time and money. And time saved equals money saved.

2 – Other Companies Pay For Employee Certification

Other employers in the industry pay for certifications. I read articles all the time about companies paying for certifications, or employees saying their boss paid for their certification.

I don’t raise this point to be childish, for us to go to our employer and say “Everyone else is doing it, why can’t I?” I raise it because it’s worth highlighting that it’s the norm, or that it’s quite common.

If you can, get some examples of companies paying for the certification that you’re doing. This will help. Bring it up when you speak to your employer, by saying something like “I’ve found several/many companies have a certification payment plan in their budget for employees”.


3 – Research the Time and Cost

Another way to help your cause is to do your research. Probably the best tip for presenting information or convincing someone to take action is to do your research and know your stuff.

For this point, do some research into the cost and time taken for this certification? Answer questions such as:

  • How much will the exam(s) cost?
  • Are there any training courses involved? How much will they cost?
  • Do I need any books to study from?
  • Do I need to take any time off?
  • How long will it take me to complete? This can show the company when they can get the benefits of it.

Once you know this information, you should be able to prepare a final dollar amount for the certification. It’s no use asking for the company to pay for it, and not knowing exactly how much it will cost them.

If you can say “I’d like to get the MCTS certification, and it will cost $1100”, then it helps your case, better than saying “I’d like to get the MCTS certification, and I think it will cost about $600 for the exam, plus some books, maybe a course, and some other material.” I’m not sure how much this really costs, but it’s just an example.


4 – It’s Not That Expensive For a Company

When asking your employer to pay for your certification, the amount to them is less of an issue as it is to you. Imagine you had to pay $1000 for a certification, which was the exams and training material. If you’re earning $700 per week and can only save $100, that’s 10 weeks of savings to prepare for the course. It means you delay your exams and the benefits they get by another ten weeks. The amount will vary depending on your income and savings, of course.

For a company, however, paying $1000 should not be too much of an issue. Companies have larger incomes, and they have budgets, which should include training. Allocating $1000 or $5000 or $200 from their budget for your certification should not be much of an issue to them, if you can explain the benefits.

Comparing the impact to your own salary, it’s easier for them.


5 – Study Won’t Affect Your Job

Another thing to point out is that the studies should not affect your job. You should try to study for the certification after hours, so the employer does not get impacted by your study habits. You don’t want to be studying on the job, as it could impact your work and may not impress your boss.

If you do need to take time off, however, for your exam or last minute study, let them know. Let your boss know that you might need a day off for the exam, or to study, but tell them up front. This should hopefully be the only impact on your work life. Studying outside work hours should be the aim, as it has minimal impact on your job.


6 – You Can Teach Others What You’ve Learnt

Another benefit of getting the certification is that you can teach other people at your company what you’ve learnt. If you’re the first one in your company, department, or team to get the certification, others can benefit as well.

This will depend on the certification and the team you’re in, but if you become certified, you can offer to teach other team members what you’ve learnt. This will help the entire team, department, and company do better and work more efficiently.

You can either do this formally (by making a presentation), or informally (discussing it with them in your team meetings or just as you do your work, or other places you meet up with developers). Either way, it’s good to help out your team.

This is especially true the more advanced you get along your certification path. The Java certification path ends up at an Oracle Certified Java Master, for example.


7 – You Can Help the Company Achieve Partner Status

Some certifications and vendors have what’s called a partner status. This means that if a company has a certain number of its employees with a particular certification, or certifications from a vendor, they achieve a partner status with that vendor.

This comes with additional benefits, such as reduced cost of training, reduced cost of their products (hardware or software), and the ability to show customers you are a recognised partner. Cisco and Microsoft both offer partnerships if enough of the employees are certified with them.

This only counts for some vendors, but it can be helpful if your employer is looking to maintain or become a vendor partner for certifications.


Tip – Don’t Just Get Certified and Leave

I have one final tip, but it’s not related to getting a certification approved by your boss. Once you get certified, I would recommend not leaving your company, if you can help it. It looks pretty bad in the eyes of the employer if they have just paid for your certification and you leave to find another job. They would have received no benefit from their investment and you’ve just left as soon as you are certified when they paid for it.

Of course, everyone’s situation is different, and we can’t be expected to stay in a job if something else in our life changes, but if you can help it, try to stay with the employer. It’s good for your reputation and can help you in the future when you’re looking for a job anyway.

Also, don’t use certification dumps, as they don’t really teach you the material, and the vendor could bar you from your current certification and any future certifications!


How to Convince Your Employer To Pay For Your Certification

So, in summary, the tips to convince your employer are:

  • Your knowledge can save them money
  • Other companies pay for employee certification
  • Research the time and cost
  • It’s not that expensive for a company
  • Study won’t affect your job
  • You can teach others what you’ve learnt
  • You can help the company achieve partner status


Well, I hope these tips have helped you consider how to approach your boss and convince them to pay for your certification. What other questions do you have about this? Share them in the comments section below!

Career Action Tip: If you’re getting ready to study for a certification, gather the information you need before presenting it to your boss (such as cost, time taken, and how you plan on studying for it).

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