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Convince Your Boss To Pay For School

A reader wrote in recently:

“I work in information technology as a systems administrator / desktop support for the last few years for the same employer.  Recently I asked my boss to pay for a certification.  I have asked him a few times now and each time, he laughs it off.  I am really disappointed and what really upsets me is that a more junior IT staff member got their certification paid for.  And it required tuition, air fare and hotel.  My request does not require those additional costs.  I have worked really hard for this company doing tons of unpaid over time.”

Frustrated Freddy

Well Freddy, I can imagine how disappointed you are.  You have had your nose to the grindstone thinking that your good work and all those hours of overtime would be recognized.  Each time the company asked you to make a sacrifice and go above and beyond you stepped up.  Now when you ask the company to return the favor they laugh at you.  I can imagine that would be a disappointment.

Unfortunately, in today’s tough economy, getting employers to invest in training is not an easy task.  While I don’t have a magic formula to help you get your certification paid for, you might want to consider the following ideas below.

Build a Business Case

You need to build a business case to convince the employer that this training will benefit their department or the company.  Build a business case on why the training is needed.  The worst thing for an employer is to pay for training where the employee does not apply it.  So show your boss that you need this training to do some important work either immediately or in the near future.

If you need this certification to maintain a specific hardware, you need to explain any liability associated with servicing this expensive equipment without certification.  In some cases, only licensed and or certified technicians can service hardware otherwise the warranty is void, check to see if this is the case with your situation.

Another angle you might be able to explore is to show your boss that it is advantageous for the company to have this expertise in-house.  Demonstrate the money you will save on outside contractor costs.  And don’t just focus on the money, reinforce the improved flexibility, turn around time, and so on that will be enjoyed by having someone on staff with this type of expertise.

How to Approach Your Boss To Talk About Paying For School

It is important that you pick the right time and place to speak to your boss about paying for your school.  Get some one on one time with your boss where you are sure you will get his or her undivided attention and will not be interrupted.

Set a meeting with him, perhaps you can set the topic as “ideas to cut cost” or “improve responsiveness” or “reduce liability”.  You can then discuss and bring up how if you had this training the company can rely less on expensive outside contractors or how the certification can reduce liability with warranties.

The option is simply to set a meeting with your boss to get his input on career planning and so forth.  As mentioned, you can then tie education and training into your future career with the company.

Another good time to discuss employer support for education is in your performance review.  Review your accomplishments and when you set new targets and goals perhaps you can tie the education and training as way to accomplish that.

Regardless of what your approach is, make sure you document the agreement with time lines.

Do Your Homework and Align Training with Career Goals

Research the number of places the offer this type of training and present your boss some options with recommendations.  Pick an affordable solution to show your employer you are mindful of costs.  Be prepared to explain why you recommend one provider over the other.

Explain how the training will fit in your career goals within the company.  Show your career goals within the company in the next few years.  Address any impacts to work, how you can make arrangements for coverage if necessary during this training.  Doing this kind of homework proves that you are serious about this training.

Options For Employer Support

If after all of this, your boss still won’t pay for your certification there are options.  For example, the cost could be split between you and your employer.  Another non-financial way that your employer can support your training is by giving you time off or making work arrangements so you can take the desired training.  If you do end up paying for your own training, it would be a good idea to check with your accountant to see if the tuition is tax deductible.

Manage Your Own Career

News flash, the days that your parents enjoyed where employers had the money to freely spend on employee training without a clear ROI are over.  The era where employees spend their whole career working for one employer are over.  Today’s employers expect employees to come with a PhD, relevant work experience and tons of volunteer credits.

More than ever, today’s employees need take responsibility to manage their own career.  So Freddy, if this training will help your career and you can afford it, maybe you need to invest in yourself if your boss won’t.

By investing in your own career, you will be more employable.  Education and training always opens doors to opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t be available.  In the end, don’t depend on your employer to take care of your career.  Lastly, without the intention of rubbing salt into the wounds, you have to ask yourself Freddy, what are the chances of your boss paying for your education if they won’t even pay you for overtime?