How to ask your boss to pay for your professional development: Step-by-Step

18 April

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How to ask your boss to pay for your professional development: Step-by-Step

You have found the perfect course to boost your knowledge and skills and fire up your chances of promotion. But there’s one problem – how do you pay for it? If the educational opportunity is relevant to your job, your employer may be able to help. After all, paid professional development often delivers benefits for employees and employers.

However, requesting financial assistance for professional development from the boss can be a scary prospect. Help is at hand with our step-by-step guide on how to ask for payment professionally. Use these tips to get your ducks in a row and prepare a strong case for assistance with your further education.

Investing in employee development makes sense for organisations. Ensuring the workforce is equipped with the latest skills and knowledge gives the business that all-important competitive edge.

And it’s also a surefire way to retain the brightest and best talent. According to one survey of HR professionals, a lack of career development and advancement is one of the main driving forces behind employee turnover.  

And while many companies already see the benefits and are happy to support professional development. Others – especially smaller organisations with fewer resources – may not be so receptive.

Whatever the situation, this guide will help you plan a request for financial assistance from your manager. Included are preparation tips and issues your boss might raise.

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Why your company can pay for your professional development

Most businesses offer training and development opportunities for their workers. It could be internal or external training courses, webinars or industry conferences. Often these are one-day events. However, many organisations also offer support with tuition fees for longer study, including certificates, diplomas and degrees.

Some companies provide pay-back programmes. Course fees are paid upfront by the employer, who may recoup some or all of the costs from your salary. The details can vary, with some expecting you to continue working for a set period after completing your studies. Others put a cap on the amount they are willing to approve. And many employers will only pay if you achieve a particular grade.

Learn as much as possible about your company’s policy as part of your preparations. Ask colleagues, consult the employee handbook and check with HR.

And it’s well worth asking the question. Those companies that usually only support day courses may not have considered paid professional development before. Sometimes you just need to ask.

How to ask your boss to fund your professional certifications

You would never dream of pitching to a new client without preparing in advance. And the same applies to requesting help from your manager with professional development. Follow these simple steps to give yourself the best chance of the boss saying yes.

  • Step 1: Do your research before the conversation

  • Step 2: Plan how education benefits your company

  • Step 3: Have the conversation alongside career planning

Step 1. Do your research before the conversation

Wanting to develop your skills and improve your career makes anyone a valuable team member. However, be sure your professional development opportunity also benefits your employer. For example, if you work in finance, your boss is unlikely to agree to fund a certificate in fine arts. You are more likely to get a positive outcome if the programme closely aligns with business goals or future needs.

Once you have identified an opportunity that benefits you and the company, thoroughly research the details. Your supervisor is bound to ask the following questions, so make sure you have the answers.

  • How much does it cost?

  • How long will it take?

  • What’s the time commitment?

  • Is it online or in person?

  • What does it involve, and what are the main learning outcomes?

It’s also a good idea to practice your pitch beforehand. Enlist the help of a trusted colleague or friend and do a mock session before approaching your boss. You can identify any fumbles or flaws and rework them before the main event. A few practice runs give you the confidence you need before going into the discussion.

Step 2: Plan how education benefits your company

Be prepared to answer the ‘what’s in it for us’ question your manager will inevitably want to know. After all, you are requesting that your employer invests in your development. And just like any business decision, your boss will expect a return on that investment.

Try to be specific about how the course outcomes align with company goals. Think about ways professional development will help you be more effective in your job. Let the boss know how you will apply the skills and knowledge you have gained in your role. And outline ways you intend to share your new-found expertise with colleagues.

If you can, put together some data to back up your argument. Professional development may help you improve team efficiencies or uncover cost savings. Perhaps your study will fill a skills gap, so the company doesn’t need to hire someone else. Even if they are just projections, including hard numbers will strengthen your case.

Furthermore, think through your responses to objections your employer may raise. A likely top concern is how you will manage your duties alongside your studies. Having a plan gives your boss confidence that you can manage the time commitment without compromising your work.

Step 3: Have the conversation alongside career planning

Timing is everything. You are unlikely to get a positive result if you approach your boss during hectic periods or on the back of poor trading results.

The best time to ask for paid professional development is in a conversation about your career plans. Performance reviews often include discussions around training and development needs. These conversations are the perfect opportunity to broach the subject.

For example, if you already see an area for growth in your performance or contributions to the company, this is where a qualified certificate or training could be discussed. Not only do you recognise that you might need to improve this area, but that you are willing to give it dedicated time and effort so that your performance can benefit the company. By coming to the review or discussion with a plan, you’ll show dedication to your position and your performance review will leave you with actionable steps on how to advance in your career.

Furthermore, no boss will say yes if they think you may not be sticking around. Framing the request in a discussion about your career plans can help prove your loyalty. Make it clear that you see a long-term future at the organisation. And achieving the qualification will be to the company’s advantage as well as your own.

Professional Development Resources

With the explosion in digital learning since the pandemic, there are now more opportunities than ever for continuing education.

Online learning offers plenty of advantages for companies and individual learners. The flexibility makes it easier to balance operational demands and diverse lifestyles. There’s something for everyone, from webinars and conferences to certificates and diplomas.  

However, where do you start your search? Your HR department or Learning and Development team should be the first port of call. They will have information on local events, seminars and workshops. Some companies already have links with colleges or training providers. Your industry may also have a professional body that offers educational opportunities.

And why not check out the Digital Learning Institute's free programme of events and webinars? From virtual open days to roundtable discussions on hot topics, there’s plenty to inspire and motivate you. Our digital learning diplomas and certificates will enhance your expertise with in-demand skills, powering up your career progression.

Digital Learning Institute and professional development

Since 2018, the Digital Learning Institute has been at the forefront of impactful digital learning. Our team has over 40 years of corporate learning experience. And we work closely with businesses to build the digital learning capability of whole in-house teams.

Your people get a first-class, university-accredited, globally recognised qualification. And the business reaps the rewards of a more knowledgeable, skilled and motivated workforce while also enjoying economies of scale.

Alongside our business offerings, the Digital Learning Institute helps individual professionals uplevel and advance their careers in the digital learning and learning and development sector. Junior L&D professionals are able to immediately apply what they’re learning into their work and show their employees why this program impacted the department for the better. In these instances, companies are more inclined to reimburse the student individually for taking the initiative to get certified.

According to HR Digest, organisations that invested in professional development boosted employee retention rates by 58%. When it comes to retention, investment in career development and upskilling is a win-win for employers and employees.

Interested in finding out more? Talk to us today about our industry-leading professional diplomas and certificates.

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