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Build Your Career Get Ahead

Will Your Boss Pay for a Professional Certification?

Will Your Boss Pay for a Professional Certification?
Credit: Radu Bercan/Shutterstock

To ensure employees keep their skills up to date, most employers support staff members' pursuit of professional certifications, new research finds.

The study from the staffing firm Robert Half revealed that 33 percent of employers pay for all of their employees' educational costs when trying to obtain professional certification, while 39 percent pay for at least some of the expenses. Just 29 percent of those surveyed said their companies provide no financial assistance for certification.

According to the International Institute of Business Analysis, professional certification is a designation earned by employees that identifies they have demonstrated a standard level of skills, experience and expertise within their fields. Certifications are generally earned from a professional society that has a certifying body, and are granted based on a combination of education, experience and knowledge, rather than solely by passing an exam.

"Keeping your skills up to date is vital to career advancement, and acquiring a general or industry-specific certification is one way to do so," Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half, said in a statement. "Employers often support ongoing development because they benefit from well-educated, highly skilled professionals who are current with trends and able to apply what they've learned to business needs."

In addition, most employers do more than just show support for the initial pursuit of a professional certification by their workers. More than three-quarters of those employers surveyed pay for all, or some, of their employees' efforts to maintain their credentials.

McDonald said employees who are hesitant to ask their bosses to pay for the costs of training should do some research and outline the benefits. [See Related Story: Want to Get Ahead at Work? Get Healthy]

"Since you're not the only beneficiary, consider which one will give you and your company the best return on investment when deciding between a few certifications," McDonald said.

To help employees, Robert half offers five tips for getting employers to help pay for professional certifications.

  1. Formulate a case. Do your research and have a plan in place before approaching your boss. Your plan should detail how the certification will make you more valuable to the company. It is also important to consider that some professional certifications have a higher return on investment than others.
  2. Provide benefit examples. Have examples ready of how the certification will improve your productivity, allow you to take on additional responsibilities and bring in added revenue.
  3. Look toward the future. Explain to your boss how this type of certification will help develop you into a future company leader. Since most managers understand the importance of succession planning, this argument should resonate with them.
  4. Offer to pass on your knowledge. Tell your boss that earning this certification will help the entire organization, because you will be able to share what you learn with your colleagues. This will help extend the value of your expertise.
  5. Share the cost. If your boss isn't willing to pay for all of the expenses, you might offer to split the costs. If you can't afford doing that, wait a few months and try revisiting to the discussion to see if the company would be more open at that time.

This study was based on surveys of more than 2,200 chief financial offers from companies in more than 20 of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.