Why Train Yourself? An 8.6 Percent Raise For One Thing

BooksCompanies don’t pay for employee training like they used to, but continuous learning is a big part of the tech industry. So the bottom line is: The more you train yourself, the higher your salary will go.

In fact, 80 percent of the 9,500 global technology professionals surveyed by Global Knowledge and TechRepublic say that training has increased their base salary. Those who trained during the year before the survey earned an average of $6,839, or 8.6 percent, more than those who didn’t train. That difference is more pronounced than in previous years, with the gap at 2.1 percent in 2011 and 3.7 percent in 2010.

Digging a little deeper, respondents with expertise in networking, communications or servers and storage believe most strongly that training impacts salary. Those in Web or application development aren’t as sure. Still, over 75 percent took some form of training in the previous year.

It makes sense, of course. The smarter you are, the more money you can make. But how do these folks find their new knowledge most effectively?

  • More than 80 percent used the Internet to research topics of interest.
  • More than 70 percent downloaded a white paper, and about the same percentage took a lunch hour to view a webinar.
  • 58 percent engaged in an informal training session while at work. Such training could be in the form of attending a “lunch and learn” session, viewing a webinar, following an online community, or downloading an educational application.
  • 47 percent participated in self-paced online training. Informal methods continue to be popular for staying current on changing technology.
  • 44 percent attended an out-of-office training session.

Note that the list pretty much goes from the least expensive to the most expensive option, and it should motivate you to find out to what extent your company will subsidize.

Also, keep in mind that you’re competing with some pretty motivated learners out there. Six out of 10 survey respondents undertook six or more activities in their efforts to stay current. Global Knowledge calls this group “Information Seekers,” and says they see the biggest salary bumps.

So how is your continuing training going? Tell us in the comments below.

19 Responses to “Why Train Yourself? An 8.6 Percent Raise For One Thing”

  1. @Don I think it’s important to note the importance of telling your superiors all about your self-study to ensure they’re aware of the work you’re doing well before you complete it. This self promotion probably helps almost as much as the actual training.

  2. Larry Dennis

    Yet another example of employee’s (or potential employees) being expected to incur risk (debt being one example) with no guarantee of benefiting from taking that risk. In the last 20 to 30 years risk has been pushed down from both business and Government to the individual.

    The current employment climate in the United States is like something straight out of Alice in Wonderland in regards to employers expectations. Like the Red Queen said – “You have to run twice as fast to get anywhere”.

  3. Proud Paulbot

    This isn’t worth doing unless (1) you already have a job AND (2) you have been told by your boss that you have moved as far up the ladder as you can with your current education and skill set, and that if you took a particular certification course, you would be eligible for further advancement.

    Another possible reason would be if you were seeking another job at a different company or had decided to strike out on your own, and you felt that the certification would be beneficial to you in pursuing your next venture.

    Otherwise, you’re wasting money. You’d be better off taking that money and investing it in some sort of interest-bearing instrument.

    • I’m with Paulbot. Actually, I’ve seen a few jobs I could get passionate about. Unfortunately, I never got offered them! And I miss out on jobs now because I don’t have required experience in techniques and technologies that are LESS THAN TWO YEARS OLD, ok? So I have to scramble to learn new things, and then .. somehow…find a way to do them for an employer so I can put it on my resume.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Larry wrote:
    “Yet another example of employee’s (or potential employees) being expected to incur risk (debt being one example) with no guarantee of benefiting from taking that risk.”

    A big change over the past 20-30 years has been increasing entitlement; the expectation that businesses should provide all the training. I went to school to learn to do my job -these days, people expect businesses to do that.It’s not my fault you prepared for a career for which there was limited demand or a lot of job competition. Through out my 30 year career, I’ve kept up with the business, learning continuously on my own. Not because I felt I should or because I’d earn more but because I’m truly passionate about my field. Today I own a company; passionate people are the ones I want to hire. People who love their work and want to be better.

    I still spend a lot of money on my education today even tho I own my business. Sure the business pays for the books or whatever but I personally pay for it in time and lost income. Why do workers today feel entitled to special treatment that we didn’t get or have always paid for ourselves?

    • Larry Dennis

      Your response I find very interesting, since prior to 20 years ago empolyers did provide training for employees. So, I don’t know where you’ve been, Anonymous Coward (btw what an appropriate name).
      If anyone seems to have a sense of entitlement it is businesses. Businesses should exist only to sever the needs of the larger society not the otherway around.

      • Proud Paulbot

        I was about to say the same thing about how businesses used to train their employees, not expect them to train themselves. College doesn’t train an employee to do a job, and it never has. It imparts theory and critical thinking skills so as to render an employee trainable. That’s why doctors have residencies, attorneys have summer associate gigs, and so on.

        I don’t agree that businesses exist to serve the needs of larger society. They exist to make money–to increase the wealth of the shareholders/owners–and that’s it. But that still doesn’t mean that employees should or can train themselves. Regardless of the field, it’s impossible for a student to learn EVERYTHING they need to know to perform a job in a classroom environment.

        I could launch into a very long discussion about the American entitlement mentality on all sides (TARP, anyone?). For purposes of this discussion, I will point to an employer-centered entitlement mentality that has surfaced over the past couple of years: that of employers feeling that the GOVERNMENT has a RESPONSIBILITY to train private-sector employees. There are articles on this very site about various government-funded “training” programs…and they always make my blood boil.

        I invite anyone to cites the section of the Constitution that gives employers a RIGHT to fully-trained employees, and further imposes a responsibility upon the government to provide training for private-sector employees…all on the taxpayers’ dime, of course. Before anyone lauds these “training” programs, keep in mind that the government is taking money out of your pocket to fund them.

        Why is it MY responsibility to pay to train employees for YOUR business? It’s YOUR business, so training your workers is YOUR problem, not MINE.

        My money is mine. I shouldn’t have to hand it to anyone; I need it to buy the things I want and need. While it’s true that you owe me nothing, I also owe you nothing. I’m against individual welfare of any kind, and I’m just as rabidly against corporate welfare of any kind.

      • Anonymous Coward

        Larry: I have to say it is frightening that you (presumably) work in tech. I can’t speak to your qualifications obviously (I came to Dice looking to hire staff) and while not knowing what “anonymous coward” implies isn’t part of any training course, it does speak to one’s familiarity of the cultural landscape of the business. In short, circulate a little more. It’s amazing what you’ll learn.

        Paulbot: Agreed with respect to entitlement and profit motive. As to training, no rational or informed person will contradict your observation that colleges do not (cannot) prepare grads for the unique circumstances of every business in a given field. That is not my beef.

        I’m a tradesman. One can learn the basics of my job with two years in a community college. I don’t care if an applicant has a degree, I don’t care about their GPA, I DO care about their GPA in given courses. I care about their passion. I care whether they practice their craft on the side or for their friends, family or self because they haven’t yet had an opportunity at a real job. That is the person I want to hire. If they have a modicum of skills, I will train them to my liking -I don’t want the state or any agency to do that for me because I’d be more afraid of what useless information they’d teach them that I would then have to undo.

        What I refer to is the expectation that I am obligated to train someone who expects me to hire and train them after they wasted their time to get a degree in something that isn’t remotely related or even, with any crossover skills -say, underwater basket weaving. I don’t owe them training. I don’t owe them a job. They need to do the ground work and if they show a facility for the work, are passionate and committed… let me tell you, they wouldn’t need *my* job because they could work for anyone who would thank their lucky stars and fall over backwards to train them. That is not the person we are getting in the door. We’re getting [deleted but the lowest gpa’s on campus] grads who think they are coming down in the world, you know, stooping and we should be grateful they condescend to notice us. That we should be grateful they’ve graced us with their presence, that we should fall over backwards to train them when they have zero interest, zero skills, zero passion and zero respect for the work.

      • Proud Paulbot

        I obtained my Math/CIS degree later in life. I got it because I thought it would open the door to better work. It didn’t; I can’t even get a $10.00/hour job with this degree. I literally put the degree through a shredder. All it gave me was debt that I’ll never be able to pay back. Getting it was the single biggest mistake of my life…and that’s saying a lot.

        I’ll be honest. I’m not “passionate” about any type of work. I never had the luxury to even find out what I “liked” or what I was “passionate” about. My life has been focused on primal survival: doing whatever I had to in order to make money. I had to take whatever kind of jobs I could get, whether I liked them or hated them so much they stripped all enjoyment from every area of my life. So that is my only “passion”: making money.

        I cannot even fathom doing something because you “like” to do it. That is so far outside my experience, it’s not even funny. Imagine trying to explain a computer to someone from 1856.

        One thing I have gotten from my La Vida Loca lifestyle is a good work ethic. That used to matter in this country. Used to be, anyone who was willing to work hard and apply themselves could get ahead. That’s why I was able to obtain jobs even without a college degree. I didn’t have the fancy education, but I was a hard, dependable worker who didn’t see any job or task as being “beneath” me. I still am. That’s why I was willing to go walk dogs. It’s a job that pays money, and I need money. I don’t have the luxury of claiming I’m too “good” to perform unskilled labor.

        In this economy, a good work ethic doesn’t matter. Employers would rather hire the kind of idiots you just described. And ironically, it’s not because they’re more skilled than I am. They’re just better at lying about it, and pretending they have “passion” for something other than money and survival.

  5. Larry Dennis

    Proud Paulbot, I’d agree with you assessment that companies exist to make money–to increase the wealth of the shareholders/owners, except when the Supreme Court seems to think corporations are people then they should be held accountable and expected act as good citizens. Actually, they should be held accountable anyway, when the well being of the larger society is at stake.

    Wall Street banks were doing what they do naturally and look what it cost the rest of American Society.

  6. IT departments no longer provide training or send people to tech conferences. They expect to hire a fully-formed, perfectly qualified employee, which is why new graduates have such a difficult time landing a job. I haven’t received any form of training from an employer in 10 years; I always use self-study methods. A friend of mine recently spent thousands out of pocket to attend training which his IT department asked him to attend; I think that is pretty outrageous.

    Perhaps this is an outgrowth of our more mercenary employment environment with people coming and going due to layoffs and better offers, but I think it is basically just cheapness on the part of businesses.

  7. I agree with this suggestion 100%. It is a real challenge finding training materials for free or cheap when you are unemployed, but looking at the average salary amounts in my area motivates me to get it done.

  8. Orthoducks

    In my experience, most companies have absolutely no interest in an applicant’s training. It won’t even get you a phone interview. All they care about is your work history.

    If your employer explicitly promises you a better deal if you get certain training — and you consider the promise credible — training makes sense. Likewise, if you know that training will enable you to do your current job better and so improve your chances of getting a raise or promotion (or of just keeping your job).

    Otherwise… there are plenty of good reasons for seeking knowledge, but career ambition is not one of them.

    A few thoughts about the original article. The author cites studies that show a correlation between getting training and getting higher pay, and concludes that training leads to higher pay. “Post hoc, ergo propter hoc” — after this, therefore because of this. It’s one of the basic fallacies taught in courses on logic. I can think of all sorts of other explanations. For example, perhaps people with more demanding (and higher paid) jobs might feel more need to stay current in their fields.

    The kinds of training cited — such as signing up for a webinar — are so trivial that no employer could reasonably be expected to increase a worker’s responsibilities or pay because of them.

    Employer-sponsored training is rarer than it used to be but it is by no means extinct. I have the good fortune to work for a company that not only encourages employees to upgrade their skills, on company time and at company expense, but regularly organizes seminars and classes for employees, delivered by other employees. In other words, they consider training to be both an investment IN their employees and a communitarian effort BY their employees. And — guess what? — they are one of the most successful companies in their industry.

    • Proud Paulbot

      ——In my experience, most companies have absolutely no interest in an applicant’s training. It won’t even get you a phone interview. All they care about is your work history.—–

      One time, on the LA Times, I saw some idiot comment that “anyone can go through a few tutorials” and get an IT job. Then a hiring manager responded, saying that although he was hiring IT people, he WASN’T hiring people whose only experience involved going through tutorials.

      ——–If your employer explicitly promises you a better deal if you get certain training — and you consider the promise credible — training makes sense. Likewise, if you know that training will enable you to do your current job better and so improve your chances of getting a raise or promotion (or of just keeping your job).

      Otherwise… there are plenty of good reasons for seeking knowledge, but career ambition is not one of them.———-

      That’s what I think, too. I have nothing against the pursuit of knowledge for the sake of it. If you really, really, really want to learn something for your own personal edification and growth, by all means, have at it. But you shouldn’t look at the training as an *investment* unless your employer has told you that completing it will render you eligible for promotions or raises, or they have told you that it’s required for you to keep your job, or you need the training to get another job or start your own business.

    • Excellent comment! The best training is experience and keep abreast with technology reading on your spare time. A two weeks seminar will do nothing for anyone. Also certifications are a bunch of bull and a business panacea for companies offering training. Seminar’s training has become a business gold mine in this country.

  9. It is not only IT employers that behave in the above well documented manner. I have read an account of a company in the Midwest that is complaining that it cannot find experienced locomotive engine mechanics. This exemplifies the sheer absurdity of the “don’t bother to keep your employees up-to-date” policy held by nearly every business in the US. They would rather poach an employee from a competitor than develop their own. As the locomotive example demonstrates though, there eventually is no one left to poach, at which time the goose is cooked.