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How to Pitch Your Boss on Paying for Your Next Certification

Certification is a great way to keep your IT skills current, as well as gather and absorb new information. It can be costly, however, to train for and pass an exam. Where can you turn for financial assistance?

Continual learning is an important part of any IT career.There is certainly no doubt that we live in an age of innovation and technological advancement. From the Internet of Things (IoT) to artificial intelligence (AI) to self-driving autos and beyond, one only has to look around to observe seemingly daily advances in technology.


Gone are the days when a college diploma (or in some cases, no diploma), coupled with a few years of real-world experience, prepared and equipped you with the skills necessary to enjoy a successful lifelong career. Today, the skills you learn in the first years of your training may well be obsolete by the time you hang that shiny new diploma on the wall.


Given the speed at which innovations are occurring, it’s even possible that professionals may be faced with scenarios where the technology they’re called upon to work with didn’t exist at the time that they underwent training.


To maintain career viability, it’s almost a necessity to adopt an attitude of lifelong learning and understand that, while you may be prepared to meet the requirements of your clients and employer today, you may not be prepared to face tomorrow’s challenges. Post-graduation training is a fact for successful professionals.


Stay Current ... with Help from Your Boss


When it comes to ongoing training, many professionals look to certifications and their associated training to quickly learn new skills and maintain market viability. In some cases, it’s not uncommon for employers to encourage, or even require, employees to obtain or maintain certain certifications as a condition of employment or continued employment.


Unfortunately, professional level certifications aren’t necessarily affordable. Prices for certification exams and related training can vary widely, ranging from nominal fees to several thousands of dollars for more advanced certifications.


By way of example, the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCDP) Data Center requires candidates pass four separate exams ($300 each) to earn the certification. The CCNP Data Center requires the CCNA Data Center as a prerequisite (two more exams). Recommended training runs approximately $4,400 per five-day course. It’s easy to see how certification fees could easily become cost prohibitive.


While not all certifications are this pricey, there are certainly instances when even nominal certification fees may be out of the financial reach of some professionals. Many professionals turn to employers for assistance in paying for certifications. According to Pearson VUE’s The Value of IT Certification Survey 2017, 55 percent of respondents reported that their employers paid for certifications.


Even so, it can be daunting to ask your employer for funding. Fortunately, there are some simple principles you can follow to help you prepare and present your request.


1. Change your focus


While it may seem counterintuitive, certification isn’t about you. It’s about the benefit and business value to your organization. The benefits to you as an individual — positive impact on your career, salary increases, promotion potential, increased opportunities — are understood.


Your employer needs to understand how paying for your certification benefits the organization as well as its clients and customers. Be prepared to explain what benefit or gain the organization will reap from their investment in growing your skills.