Whether you’re a programmer, Big Data analyst, or cybersecurity expert, your employer expects you to have the skills necessary to do your job. That means tech professionals must spend a lot of money in order to secure the schooling and certifications they need. And that can become an expensive proposition.
In many industries, companies will pay for employee training. In tech, however, that’s not always the case, and that can frustrate those professionals who feel they must constantly evolve in order to prove useful to the business.
According to Bob Hadick, president of Russ Hadick & Associates, a professional search and recruiting firm, tech employers expect their employees to live and breathe the job: “We find it easier to sell the guy or gal who shows a passion for the job by pursuing training on his or her own.”
Tech employers consider positions such as developer or software architect as more than a mere title. “It’s an identity,” Hadick added. With that in mind, companies often look for employees who are intellectually curious, not to mention willing to work on tech-related projects on their own time.
According to Carlos Pimenta, CEO of Macquarium, a digital experience design and marketing agency, the nature of the tech profession demands constant education on the part of workers. “A programming language is similar to a spoken language,” he said. “You can quickly learn enough to get by, but it takes a while to master.”
Given how building systems that drive business operations is a complex and expensive process, it’s often easier and quicker for companies to find the people with the necessary skills, rather than train the ones they have. “If you don’t have in-house experience in that version of the programming language, you will typically work with proven partners to satisfy the client need,” Pimenta said.
But you can still convince your employer to pay for training and certifications—provided you figure out the best way to spin the idea. Here’s how to broach the subject and sell it to your boss:
Realize the Value of Training
Before you bother to ask, make sure the training is something that your employer considers a relevant skill for the job. While companies want people who can do their job well, don’t try to pitch a certification that isn’t relevant to the job you currently perform or can’t help you get better at what you do, Hadick said.
Argue for Training the Whole Team
It might be easier to sell your boss on training the entire software development group and not just you, Hadick added. Suggest that training the team can impact the bottom line on the project or help move up the time to deployment. Pitch it in terms they can understand, but consider the time investment, too.
Help Your Manager Justify the Expense
Help your manager make the business case for training or certifications. Explain how the training will make an impact by filling a gap in a department need. If your employer is having a hard time recruiting the right people with the right skills, he or she might be more amenable to training current staff. Pimenta thinks the company’s decision will not only be influenced by business need, but also by the cost, timing, and ROI.
Alleviate Your Employer’s Fear That You’re Jumping Ship
Your boss may think you’re amping up your skills in order to find a new job. According to Hadick, it’s best to explain to your employer how a new training program or certification is specifically relevant to what you do and how it will improve your performance.
Do Your Homework Before Accepting a Job Offer
Corporate culture can be hard to change, and that includes getting an employer to pay for certifications when they aren’t accustomed to doing so. While tech companies that routinely pay for training are still relatively rare, there are tech employers out there who know its value. It pays to ask around and network with your tech friends to find out which organizations will pay for courses.
When you’re interviewing for a position, don’t forget to ask about the company’s training initiatives. Pitch it to the potential employer as a potential perk of the job.