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Ask Slashdot: On the Job Certification Training?

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the make-them-pay dept.

IT 117

beerdini writes "There is a debate going on within my IT department about how our continued training offerings compare to others in the industry. I'm hoping other Slashdotters can help to provide comparisons. Currently, if we are implementing a new technology or updated software we will send someone from IT for training to become a specialist; in other words, they go to formal training as a part of their job where they learn their new skills. Alternatively, for someone pursuing an industry certification, employees usually take the training on their own time and dime. On passing the certification exam, they can submit the exam fee for reimbursement. This is the most common practice that I've seen in the various places that I've worked, but I have one co-worker who insists that it is our company's responsibility to pay for the materials, allow them to study and practice while on the job, and that all attempts to take the test should be paid by the company because it should be a company investment in the employee. So, my questions to the Slashdot community: what are the ongoing training practices in your organization? Are there any places that pay for someone to get an industry certificate? Are there any rules associated with it?"

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I think you said it (4, Insightful)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about a year ago | (#43090637)

If the training meets a specific need and is a must have to continue or grow the business then the company will pay for it and do it on company time. To them, it's an investment with a specific ROI. If it's a nice to have but doesn't meet specific needs tehn they may reimburse as part of a benefits package but you are on your own time and dime until you pass or complete the course.

Re:I think you said it (4, Interesting)

swalve (1980968) | about a year ago | (#43090929)

Yes. My company will send key players to training if it is required to win/maintain a contract. Beyond that, all training is done on an "entrepreneurial" basis. They want people to be self-starting enough that they will figure out what they need to learn to move up the ladder. Reimbursements are usually up to the individual managers, however. They will almost always pay for exams, but books and classes are approved on a case by case basis.

The only time I would find it acceptable for a company to require a certification but not pay for it is in the situation where achieving the certification would result in a statutory pay increase. Back in the day, our company's policy was that getting a Novell CNE got you a 10% bump. So a $50 book kit and a $125 test fee was no big deal given that it would be recouped in the first paycheck.

(And man, looking back, how easy were those certs? CNA was nothing compared to even the CCENT nowadays. My brain hurts.)

Re:I think you said it (4, Interesting)

AVee (557523) | about a year ago | (#43091269)

I've seen several companies (in Europe, so it might not relate to what is common in the US) which will pay for a full training if it is deemed useful for the company provided you stay with the company. They will pay, but you'll have to repay a sliding percentage of the costs when you leave the company soon after the training. This system seems to work pretty well, the employee gets his training and the company protects it's investment.

Re:I think you said it (1)

jacknifetoaswan (2618987) | about a year ago | (#43091789)

Many companies do this as part of their educational reimbursement policy. My previous company would pay $15,000 per year for you to go to grad school, but wouldn't reimburse anything for industry certifications, unless they deemed it necessary to send you for them. In the seven years I worked there, as a sys admin/engineer, I went to three classes, and was only asked to get one cert, Security+, as it was required to meet DoD Directive 8570. My new company pays only up to $3000/year for school, but you can use that for an industry certification. That said, most companies (the two I've worked for, included) require that you stay there for a year after the last disbursement, otherwise, you have to pay a pro-rated amount back to the company.

Re:I think you said it (1)

Guillaume le Btard (1773300) | about a year ago | (#43095503)

My employer handles a similar strategy: - Small (cheaper) trainings will be reimbursed without any condition. - Biggest trainings will require to sign a contract, so leaving the employer earlier will mean paying some of the costs. This works out really great, in the last 6 months my employer has allowed me to take a lot of interesting (and useful!) trainings without any costs for me (and that is including hotels, food and travel). Because of this we can offer our customers better service so it should really be a no brainer to do this. Obviously the above applies to subjects that are relevant for my job, but it can be quite flexible.

Re:I think you said it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43091653)

My company used to pay for all sorts of training, but that ended in the last 5, maybe a bit more, years. Now, even if our attaining a "certification" is required for a contract we are expected to attain that certification on our own time if we wish to remain employed. They will repay one exam fee after we pass.

Re:I think you said it (2)

Kneo24 (688412) | about a year ago | (#43091689)

Sounds like it's time to jump ship. Good companies know how to spend their money. If it's required for the business to grow the business, they shouldn't be afraid to invest in their employees. It's not hard to draw up a contract that says you stay for x amount of time, if not, you repay y.

Re:I think you said it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43092033)

Yeah, because companies should throw money at people like you who talk so blithely about "jumping ship" in order to get certifications that make it easier to jump ship.

Funny how easy it is to come up with reasons to spend other people's money on yourself. You should run for office.

Re:I think you said it (4, Insightful)

Kneo24 (688412) | about a year ago | (#43092281)

Are you being purposely obtuse? It's time to jump ship when a company won't invest in their employees. If a company is willing to invest in me, then it shows me that they care about a long term benefit. It also states pretty clearly that I have a higher chance of job security. If you aren't willing to invest in me, why should I care about the company? Why should I even have to explain this entire thought process and reasons behind it that is clear to just about everyone else in this topic?

Re:I think you said it (2)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about a year ago | (#43092939)

Are you being purposely obtuse?

I doubt it. The poster was probably simply following the /. Tradition of being cluelessly obtuse.

Why should I even have to explain this entire thought process and reasons behind it that is clear to just about everyone else in this topic?

so the poster can post more clueless follow ups?

Re:I think you said it (1)

Macman408 (1308925) | about a year ago | (#43095063)

+1 more. If the company requires an employee to get some sort of training, certification, etc. then the company directly pays for all costs associated with it, and the employee can use work hours to study and attend classes. If the employee is driving the process by taking a class (even if the class is very useful - but has not been deemed a business requirement and thus they will not pay for it directly as above), then the employee can get reimbursed after the fact. And only if the employee passes/gets a B or better/etc.

Yes, the latter case is a company investment in the employee, but the employee is getting a benefit from it as well - a new skill that they can take with them to their next job, and the ability to move up within the current company to have an expanding role - and possibly better performance reviews and a salary increase.

As an aside, I once worked somewhere where we all had to take a couple exams to continue our jobs doing computer repair - the manufacturer started requiring that all technicians pass their exams. I think there were about four of us that had to train and then take the exams; three of us had no problems - we studied for an hour or two, took the exams, and passed on the first try. After all, it was an exam about what we were already doing every day. The fourth studied for probably 3 weeks straight, and failed about a half-dozen times at least. Of course, since it fell under the first category, this was all paid for by the employer. Granted, it also would've been a great time to just fire the guy for not knowing what he's supposed to already know, and being seemingly unable to learn it either. Unfortunately, he had previously successfully sued us for wrongful termination, and had settled for a token job in our group. So of course, no matter how terrible he was, he got to keep his job, because they didn't want to risk getting sued again.

Re:I think you said it (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | about a year ago | (#43091375)

I would say parents company is about in line with industry standards. If you NEED a training specifically for the company, they will pay for classes and travel. If you want the training for advancement, usually they want you to get the training and pass the exams on your own, and they will chip in the test fees. Most companies have a similar college course plan in that you have to have an approved plan, then PASS the class before they pay back.

Given the cost of some training, or need to GO to classes out-of-town, I can see how employees might want help at times.

For many positions, that's the difference between "doing" the work and climbing the ladder. I think companies are happy to have people that "know" the work without the cert. because then you can't get the NEXT cert for that hardware/software that makes you a specialist... And paid accordingly. But you can limp along "doing the work" for 5-6 years.

Re:I think you said it (2)

Wolfraider (1065360) | about a year ago | (#43091631)

Where I work, All certification is paid for by the company and we get to do it on company time. There is actually a budget set aside for training and everyone can take as many classes and certifications as they want )as long as it's relevant to their job) until that budget is gone.

Re:I think you said it (2)

Desler (1608317) | about a year ago | (#43092109)

That's what any decent company does. One that actual cares about growing their people instead of wanting another low-paid drone. That any company expects you to use your own time and money to improve your skills for them (because we all want to have no leisure time) is absurd. It's even more laughable that some employees think this is the way a company should treat you.

Re:I think you said it (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about a year ago | (#43093483)

That's what any decent company does. One that actual cares about growing their people instead of wanting another low-paid drone. That any company expects you to use your own time and money to improve your skills for them (because we all want to have no leisure time) is absurd. It's even more laughable that some employees think this is the way a company should treat you.

While most companies will pay for training that maintains or improves a person's skills at their current job, very few pay to develop skills for their next job; unless they have some assurance that the costs will be recovered. Quite frankly, it makes no economic sense to train someone for a better job unless you are assured they will stick around because otherwise you simply absorb training costs for your competitor's employees.Companies do not provide training because they are decent, they do it because it generates a return and is viewed like any other investment - is the cost worth the return? That doesn't make them evil or bad, simply an organism that responds to the same stimuli as we do. As for tuition reimbursement schemes, they are simply another part of what they view as your total compensation package and a cost of getting and keeping employees. If you don't use it you are simply chosing to forgo part of your compensation.

Re:I think you said it (1)

Desler (1608317) | about a year ago | (#43093999)

Quite frankly, it makes no economic sense to train someone for a better job unless you are assured they will stick around because otherwise you simply absorb training costs for your competitor's employees.

Yes, that's why they also need to treat you well and pay you reasonable salaries so you stay. If a company doesn't want to do those things then it's really their own damn fault that employees may use the training to find a better job. Sorry, but I have no sympathy for shitty companies and their poor choices of how to treat their staff.

Companies do not provide training because they are decent, they do it because it generates a return and is viewed like any other investment - is the cost worth the return?

If your company solely does training for their own bottom line then, yes, they are not a decent company. But all the decent companies that I've worked for saw the training as much more than that. They also had high retention of employees because they actually cared about more than just "how much is my ROI on this training going to be?". At my current job and the last couple of places I worked for I could get training and get books reimbursed for pretty much any technology subject I wanted. In fact, my managers urged me to do so repeatedly. They viewed training in a way far beyond only the ROI.

That doesn't make them evil or bad, simply an organism that responds to the same stimuli as we do.

No it usually means they are shitty places to work. "Evil" has nothing to do with to do with anything.

Again, a decent company does not expect you to pay your own money and/or use up your leisure time to do training for them. And any company that does is no place I'd ever work for. There are plenty of better jobs out there.

Re:I think you said it (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about a year ago | (#43094949)

Quite frankly, it makes no economic sense to train someone for a better job unless you are assured they will stick around because otherwise you simply absorb training costs for your competitor's employees.

Yes, that's why they also need to treat you well and pay you reasonable salaries so you stay. If a company doesn't want to do those things then it's really their own damn fault that employees may use the training to find a better job. Sorry, but I have no sympathy for shitty companies and their poor choices of how to treat their staff.

Companies do not provide training because they are decent, they do it because it generates a return and is viewed like any other investment - is the cost worth the return?

If your company solely does training for their own bottom line then, yes, they are not a decent company. But all the decent companies that I've worked for saw the training as much more than that. They also had high retention of employees because they actually cared about more than just "how much is my ROI on this training going to be?". At my current job and the last couple of places I worked for I could get training and get books reimbursed for pretty much any technology subject I wanted. In fact, my managers urged me to do so repeatedly. They viewed training in a way far beyond only the ROI.

That doesn't make them evil or bad, simply an organism that responds to the same stimuli as we do.

No it usually means they are shitty places to work. "Evil" has nothing to do with to do with anything.

Again, a decent company does not expect you to pay your own money and/or use up your leisure time to do training for them. And any company that does is no place I'd ever work for. There are plenty of better jobs out there.

I think you missed my point. ROI includes much more than an immediate financial return. They do the things you mention because it costs them less to do that than not to; that's a fundamental economic fact of life. In many cases, being a decent place to work keeps employees around and productive; so you do teh things that employees like to maximize your investment in them. I once spoke with as senior executive of a company with a number of perks beyond those normal for companies in his business. His response was "It's simply cheaper to do that than replace staff; our staffing costs are lower than our competitors and those savings outweigh the costs of the perks; so in the end we are more profitable." While individuals in a company may care about you, to the company, in the ned, you are simply a cost and as long as their return on that cost is acceptable they will do things to keep you around; to think otherwise is delusional.

Re:I think you said it (1)

Desler (1608317) | about a year ago | (#43095185)

While individuals in a company may care about you, to the company, in the ned, you are simply a cost and as long as their return on that cost is acceptable they will do things to keep you around; to think otherwise is delusional.

No, it's not delusional at all. Some companies actually do care about their employees beyond how much they cost to keep around. You may not have actually worked for any such companies. I have. I'm sorry that you think such an attitude towards one's employees is anything but shitty.

Re:I think you said it (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about a year ago | (#43095835)

While individuals in a company may care about you, to the company, in the ned, you are simply a cost and as long as their return on that cost is acceptable they will do things to keep you around; to think otherwise is delusional.

No, it's not delusional at all. Some companies actually do care about their employees beyond how much they cost to keep around. You may not have actually worked for any such companies. I have. I'm sorry that you think such an attitude towards one's employees is anything but shitty.

Actually, I have. I worked for a company, several in fact, where we really were a family - and cared about each other. While that was important, and one of the reasons I stuck around a long time at two of them, that is different from the economic decisions surrounding employment. In the end, it does come down to "what can we afford?" and "what are the benefits, to the company, for absorbing the associated costs?" I realize that seems cold hearted and at odds with being a decent company but it really isn't; you can do many good things for employees while still ensuring the long term viability of the company.

Depends on the company (1)

marian (127443) | about a year ago | (#43094549)

There's no absolute in this. Some companies will pay for your training/certification and have you do it on company time. Others not. It really depends on the company.

I'm fortunate enough that the first option is pretty much always what happens for me. But it's entirely because of the type of company I work for. I'm a storage engineer for a big data center VAR, so I need to be up to speed on a huge number of different storage systems. The company gets financial incentives from the vendors to have employees get and maintain those certifications. The more of us with certifications from a particular vendor, the bigger the financial gain for the company. I take as much advantage of this perk as possible, and I'd suggest that anyone who can get their employer to pay for training jump on it. It makes you more valuable to the company, and in the job market in general.

Whether any of those certification is worth the paper they're printed on is a completely different discussion. :)

Re:I think you said it (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | about a year ago | (#43095729)

If the training meets a specific need and is a must have to continue or grow the business then the company will pay for it and do it on company time. To them, it's an investment with a specific ROI. If it's a nice to have but doesn't meet specific needs tehn they may reimburse as part of a benefits package but you are on your own time and dime until you pass or complete the course.

This. My employer provides time and training materials and/or formal classes for industry certifications. All tests are paid for regardless of whether it is a pass or a fail. It is part of the cost of doing business.

A rare case? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43090657)

I work as an IT consultant, and provided we are not very busy on a project / time can be found, we can get certified on the company time & time.
Assuming we can show some relevance to our profession. (not necessarily immediate usefulness on any project)

This also includes any conferences we might stumble upon, as long as its justifiably relevant to a developer, the company will pay for conference a year, including air-fare, hotel, entrance/ticket and for time spent.
(One per year, per developer)

Though I doubt this is common practice with most companies.

Certification (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43090677)

Hi,

If the company specifically needs the employee to learn a new IT system, then the company pays. if its career training that your company not necessarily needs then the employee covers it.

Pay for it + Apprenticeship (1)

eksith (2776419) | about a year ago | (#43090691)

If there's something new, we have the vendor do a presentation and we look into whether we hire someone new or whether one or more people can go train at a vendor specified camp (usually their corporate offices) and our company pays for it. It's very poor form to let an employee pay for technology training with the hope of becoming useful when they wouldn't have if management didn't express interest in the first place. Now if they want to learn on their own for the future, that's a different story. If you let them take the training first, that's still double the burden to both train and find a way to manage expenses.

Regardless, it's a tax write-off on your end.

And by apprenticeship, I don't mean "intern", I mean a trained employee takes the new employee on the job (usually just around the server room) and do regular work including on some software. But our boss, thankfully, doesn't value certification over competence.

There have been many occasions where new tech was less than stellar under the microscope so we ended up avoiding it altogether. This is what happened when we evaluated a bunch of NoSQL dbs a while back and elected to stay with Postgres.

Re:Pay for it + Apprenticeship (2)

Karl Cocknozzle (514413) | about a year ago | (#43091173)

Our organization pays for training--tons of it. I'm going through a pile of high-level Citrix stuff this year after doing about half the VMware catalog last year... We're in a position to do this because we've taken on a large new multi-year project that required us to go way beyond our existing skills. But even without that project, I was still budgeted for 1-3 outside courses every year, and would sometimes get access to online opportunities too.

What they do not ever pay for is certification exams. For those you're on your own--which is fine with me. I've taken $40k in training in the last 2 years. I don't mind ponying up a few dollars to take an exam once in a while.

Wrong field, man. (1, Troll)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#43090695)

Are there any places that pay for someone to get an industry certificate?

Not really. This industry is routinely and repeatedly gutted by idiot lawmakers on behalf of greedy corporations who have managed to turn most IT positions into contract positions without benefits. Before the dot com bubble burst, contract positions paid more than salaried positions, with the understanding you'd be responsible for covering benefits. This was because the multitude of startups didn't have the resources for proper HR. But once the bubble burst, the bottom fell out of the market. Naturally, the lower salaries being offered drove many into other fields. Those that stayed endured high rates of unemployment, because businesses anticipated this and claimed to Congress that there were no qualified workers. In truth, there were -- they just redefined "qualified" to mean "paid shit". So now there's about a million immigrants here on visas getting no benefits on the promise of earning citizenship someday... while the domestic workers who were already here continue to languish in unemployment or have switched into alternative fields. But this isn't news to anyone in the industry, just anyone outside of it.

You won't find many businesses investing in their workers. But if you want to look, you're welcome to it. I suggest starting by pulling their IRS records and finding out what percentage of their workforce is under contract and going from there. Small businesses won't invest in you. Eating the other end of the spectrum is our soaring rates of tuition; Nobody can afford a degree in this country now. Naturally, this means there are "no qualified people", and thus, more immigrants. Because it's a lot cheaper for them to meet the HR demands for certification and have dozens of cheap (but valid) degrees than you are.

Bottom line: If you're dead set on getting on the job certification, get out of this field, or get out of this country. Those are your two options.

Re:Wrong field, man. (2)

will_die (586523) | about a year ago | (#43090821)

Former company I worked for would pay for any certificate I got that was related to my job, however I had to study on my own time. They just considered it part of the education fund that everyone had a max amount per year.
Current company will not pay for any but will give me time off to take the test and some time to study.

Re:Wrong field, man. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43093057)

You are just in a bad mood today, aren't you? What's got ya down; did ya fail to accomplish something? Did your nasty attitude make someone else take something away from you? Aww, there, there. Try commenting again when you're in a better mood, miss whiny-whiny.

There are no rules. (4, Interesting)

oneiros27 (46144) | about a year ago | (#43090701)

It's whatever your company gives you. Talk to your HR department.

Personally, I have an education benefit, that I can use for courses, if I have pre-approval from the company.

When I worked for a previous company, there was a fund that I could use for books, and they had the ame deal on courses, but did such a bad job of explaining it (telling me that I would only be reimbursed for college credit courses if I got a high enough grade, but neglected to mention that I had to get approval in advance before I even *started* the course, so I ended up getting shafted for my first two semesters).

When I wored for a university, I could take courses for a nominal fee, but due to sloppy paperwork, when the university sold off their certificate classes, they didn't have records of the fact that I was a staff member at the time, so I ended up with months of dealing with a collections agency that was sent after me.

Almost all of them had other limits on using the benefits -- for example, some companies require you to be an employee for 12 months before you can take classes; others will require you to pay back the benefit if you quit within some time frame after taking the class (12-18 months is typical, but I've heard of places that do 24 or 36 months) . One of the companies required me to explain how the course was relevant to my job.

You should also talk to your manager -- there are cases where some courses might make it more likely for you to get a promotion or a better raise when annual reviews come around. (and it'd be a good idea to get it in writing, if you're thinking about paying out of pocket for it).

As for the paying for time at the classes -- I've only had it when it was either a workshop attached to a conference, so only 1-2 days, or training that I was specifically sent to at the request of the company (typically 3-5 days, although there was one case where it was two weeks back-to-back, but it was 2 classes). I've also had them pay my time to take certification tests, when it was required as part of my job.

I have never had a company pay my time when I was taking college level classes that I elected to go to, even if it was related to my job. They did, however, let me take off in the middle of the day to go to classes at the local university, and were otherwise understanding when I shifted my schedule around.

Re:There are no rules. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43090751)

When I whored for a university, I could take intercourses for a nominal fee, but...

FTFY

Re:There are no rules. (1)

stephanruby (542433) | about a year ago | (#43091065)

I'll second the recommendation to ask HR.

Sometimes, it's just a part of the budget, and for all you know, there may be a training budget allocated for that kind of thing. Also if your company has a Foundation, check into that too. For all you know, there could be some scholarship money you could apply for that would otherwise go to the CEO's favorite Ballet school.

It may also be a good idea to try to reframe the question. How is your IT department doing? Most IT departments I've seen do not seem to be doing that well. In many companies, being in IT is just a thankless job. Ask yourself. What's the quality of life like in your department? What's the cost of finding/replacing an IT employee who just quits on you? What's the cost of losing your better employees and only keeping your mediocre employees? Because that's what usually happens if you're just aiming to match the same average rewards that everybody else is offering. In an average company, the above-average employees tend to leave, and the below-average employees tend to stay and hold on for dear life.

Re:There are no rules. (2)

bofkentucky (555107) | about a year ago | (#43091267)

The last two shops I've been at have tuition reimbursement programs, but they only apply to 2 or 4 year accredited colleges and universities. This leads to a weird situation where they could pay $10500 over 3 years to help pay for a diploma mill MBA but can't approve $3500 to pay for industry coursework from vmware/emc/redhat/etc that actually interests me.

Re:There are no rules. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43092377)

Where I work they will see a need... like we are implementing a new Citrix, VMWare, or other solution (usually the other solutions) and although we have trained people in another location they will send someone local to get training. Then they expect that person to make sure their team is up to speed. You end up with a guy that has no training or certs in a specific area but is the company's resident expert of with 10yrs experience. The guy they originally sent left the company after 3 yrs cause he had certs and could.

preapproval (1)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | about a year ago | (#43091271)

ah there is the rub. In a few places I've worked they insisted that training be something relevant for your existing position. So that ruled out things like taking an ITIL course if you weren't a manager etc. But then when you tried to take a course in something you were already supposed to know (like your particular flavor of networking gear or Solaris) they'd pretty much say: oh it hasn't change just read the manual. Or isn't there an free online "course" you can take? So the education "benefit" essentially wasn't useful.

What has happened in most of these cases either in IT or in other technical fields is the lower level technicans got sent away for course because it was required for them to be able to service equipment without voiding warantees. So college guy gets a 6k Apple repair course no problem, me as the server/network admin am supposed to just read the manual. Oh and my "education benefit" got appropriated to top up the college guys training budget to pay for his course. Nice. Current job the lowest end of guys in my department get about a month of off site training at a cost of about 20k a year. The really senior people get one conference a year which are always somewhere nice (ski resorts, Vegas etc). The people in the middle? Read the freaking manual.

In consultancy industries it is widely practiced (2)

Chrisq (894406) | about a year ago | (#43090709)

I worked for a software consultancy which charged us out to clients. In this type of company it is usual practice to pay for and give time for various certifications. Clients frequently ask about the qualifications that consultants have and it is important to have up-to-date certifications. I have also worked for end-user companies where you are given on-the-job training for new systems, approaches etc. only as needed and with no certification. Sometimes they let you have time off to take the exam of you want to go for certification yourself, but to them the aim is getting the job done and certificates to prove you can are of little value.

Where I work.... (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43090717)

You're told to read the fucking manual.

The attitude is that if you complain about no training you're basically saying you don't know what you're doing.

Re:Where I work.... (1)

Ash Vince (602485) | about a year ago | (#43091329)

You're told to read the fucking manual.

The attitude is that if you complain about no training you're basically saying you don't know what you're doing.

Sounds like a shit place to work, maybe you should jump ship and find a better employer.

If you are a half decent techy of any kind and have a few years experience under your belt then your skills are in demand (certainly in the UK where I live) and you can probably earn the same salary or more else where and also get some form of training from a company that believes in investing in it's own staff.

The technology industry moves pretty quickly and if you do not have some form of budget for keeping your staff's skills up to date then the services you provide will ultimately fall behind your competitors.

Re:Where I work.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43092719)

I started at a DSL company thinking I was going to be a customer service representative and they decided I would do good in tier I tech support since I knew so much. Since I have been a Tier II helpdesk, Tier III Admin, Domain Admin, DBA, Telecome Engineer, Developer, and still have no education (well applied arts but I don't count that) I have all the experience in the world. Where does that leave me... Resident expert with for little pay.

Study on the job? (1)

mizkitty (786078) | about a year ago | (#43090753)

Reimbursement when you pass a certification exam seems to be the norm in my experience. Workshops or seminars that the company wants pay for...they'll send you to. Unfortunately...adding to your resume benefits your future job searches more than your present employer. "...all attempts to take the test should be paid by the company because it should be a company investment in the employee"...really? How many times do you get to fail an exam before the boss starts rechecking your resume?

Re:Study on the job? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#43091185)

our company's responsibility to pay for the materials, allow them to study and practice while on the job,

Where's the control of the employer over the "learning" process? (mind you, the employer is supposed not to have expertise in the topic of study, otherwise why pay for it at all?)
In other words: how much time slacking on the pretext of studying until the boss is morally allowed to cut the crap?

Re:Study on the job? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43091187)

Exactly. The co-worker described in the original post sounds like a wanker who wants everything handed to him on a platter, and will then jump to another company who will pay him for his flashy new credentials. Is his name Wally?

I recently had a very interesting interview (2)

ltrand (933535) | about a year ago | (#43090787)

I recently interviewed for a very interesting position. I had to turn it down because of conflict-of-interest, but it was for an internal corporate training department. They evidently wanted to create a streamlined, formal way of providing continued education to their employees to allow them to move around and improve themselves. I was highly honored to have even been asked for such a position, and still wish I could take it. That is the only organization that I've seen that actually thought further ahead than next fiscal statement. It's a real shame that internal training doesn't exist in more organizations. Or at least a closer partnership with local training organizations (colleges, tech centers, ect). It seems that organizations these days want to put as little into their employees as possible and expect stellar performance. When exactly is the rest of the team supposed to learn the new technology that you send your golden child to training for? I see too often where people are not sent to training, or training isn't brought in house, because it's "too expensive", yet we are still expected to know the material. When exactly is that learning supposed to take place, and on what dime? Is it the two weeks a year you give me to get out of the office? Or on the salary that is destroyed by modern student loans? More and more I support FOSS, it's the only way I can stay current in my field. Fuck the proprietary garbage with a walled off knowledge base.

Re:I recently had a very interesting interview (1)

Teun (17872) | about a year ago | (#43091111)

I work as an instructor for the dedicated training department of our company.

Our business is not IT but the department I originate from is very IT related and so I mainly train new and existing employees of that particular department.
We have a formal competency system that all employees are enrolled in, it is the only way to move up the ladder.
All 'evidence' of training and experience is kept in a personnel development database and every employee or manager can consult it to find out how far the person is achieving his goals.
These goals are set during a(n annual) meeting in discussion with the line supervisor or manager.
The internal courses my department gives are geared towards goals set in the competency system at a high corporate level and employees get an invitation for a particular course after this annual meeting.

Once a grade rise has been approved based on the previous years course results, meeting of the competency and knowledge requirements, they get a new assignment with clear goals of further development.
Fast developers don't have to wait for the next annual meeting but can get promoted when ready, the same applies for those needing more time.

Especially, but not only, at the higher/ highest levels there are 3rd. party courses done by industry recognised institutes and specialists.
Those inclined can ask their line manager for approval to do an outside (usually night) course and after successfully completion get the cost reimbursed, would they leave the company before an agreed time they have to pro-rate pay back part of the course price.

We have company training centres in Europe, N. and S. America, Africa and S.E. Asia.
The whole system is conforming with ISO standards and is audited by DNV.

There is no 'one way' ever. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43090789)

First off, there is no 'standard'. Do you really expect a small company to pay for YOUR education? Did they pay for your college degree? Did you expect them to? Really?

Are you ready to agree to work for them for N number of years after you get your education or else repay them? That's the alternative for a company that pays for certificates. Very large corporations can afford to bring in training as they know that they pay fair wages and provide a good place of work, and that people won't walk as soon as they can get a better job. But those jobs are fewer and fewer for non-Americans. Before I took early retirement I use to work for a large company that sponsored a training center. Each employee could (with manager's approval) take just about any class they wanted. But the classes were on your own time if not required for your job. That company made money hand over fist so they could afford to be generous.

I also worked for a major hospital system. In that case I never saw a single dollar for education because of other employee fraud (now serving jail time) and management's lack of concern for employee's future. Nearly everyone walked within 5 years for a better job as the health benefits were fantastic, the pay sucked, and the constant threats made by doctor's (The 'gods') was just not worth it.

With everything in life, balance.

It wil depend (1)

seocomp24 (2444894) | about a year ago | (#43090855)

Your co-worker is correct. If the company required an employee to undergo training for their benefit or to meet their need then the company is responsible to pay the materials. But, if it is your sole decision then you are responsible to pay and not the company.

Training? (1)

ebonum (830686) | about a year ago | (#43090895)

I generally think that IT people are hired for their thirst for knowledge and self motivation. If someone can't gain the skills needed on their own with a test environment and a book / youtube / manuals, there is a problem. Actually I would encourage any such person who requires a class to go join a big company that will spoon-feed them, wipe their ass for them and maybe offer them union membership.

Obviously, this doesn't apply to everything. For nuclear control systems it might be a good idea to go to the class. For the latest version of XYZ from Microsoft, people shouldn't need to sit in a class. This was true 5 years ago. Today we have stackoverflow & stackexchange. If you need help, go get it.

Re:Training? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43091407)

Your approach would certainly put any organization at a disadvantage as it would require self-motivation be the limiting factor in the technical competence of the organization.

Re:Training? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43091477)

Bullshit. In an environment where the entire team is overloaded with work and just trying to keep heads above water, we aren't given the time to try to learn new skills on our own. Maybe if you have no life outside of work and want to spend your time at home (assuming you aren't dealing with on-call issues) with your nose in a book instead of participating in the life with your family.

Companies love to spout the line that "our people are our most valuable resource". Prove it by investing in them.

100% Employer paid = 100% commitment. (1)

geekmux (1040042) | about a year ago | (#43090897)

Employers would likely have no issues granting you study time, even at work, if they felt secure that you were not going to take your new skills elsewhere before the ink dries on your new certificate.

Your co-worker only has a point if he or she is willing to sign a contractual agreement equal in return to the company's investment.

And if they can't understand that concept, tell them to take over the IT books for a while, see how they feel after spending $50,000 on what is now the competitors highly-skilled IT staff.

Re:100% Employer paid = 100% commitment. (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#43091889)

Employers would likely have no issues granting you study time, even at work, if they felt secure that you were not going to take your new skills elsewhere before the ink dries on your new certificate.

And employees would probably be less likely to leave if they felt secure that they wouldn't just walk into work one day and be told "Clean out your desk, and then security will escort you from the building. You can write a letter of resignation if you like." Loyalty is a two-way street, but a lot of companies don't want that.

Re:100% Employer paid = 100% commitment. (1)

franciscohs (1003004) | about a year ago | (#43092065)

I don't agree, it really depends on the kind of training and the time and money that the company is investing in it. I think that the company should always invest on some kind of ongoing training (whether it's sending people to training, organizing internal training, paying for materials and certifications for self study, etc), and this shouldn't necessarily mean that I'd have to sign a contractual agreement. The company HAS to invest to keep an ongoing operation. If they don't do so and the employees don't agree to study on their own time or sign an agreement then it will lower the work quality, does the company really want that?, well, many seem to think so, but they have to realize that an ongoing operation requires additional investment besides salary.

It's about Tax (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43090921)

In the end companies may pay for your education if they can use it for a tax write-off.
Generally if the company is not making enough to be able to write it off on taxes they will *not* send you.
I am not quite sure if the time you are not working while on education is also tax deductable for them, probably.
So it's nice if they do it for you, they also may pay everything while you train, they may pay only some things, it depends on the finance state of the business.
So there is no rules that a business *should* be doing anything for you in regards to extra training, but if the business can get something for nothing they will.

What if they leave? (1)

krunster (1417475) | about a year ago | (#43090945)

I am an instructor that trains network certification courses. This is a common issue that employers have. They always think "What if I pay for my employee to attend training and they leave?" I then ask them "What if you do not train your employees and they stay?" This is not to say that you always need to attend a training course to learn how a particular technology/appliance/application works. It is simply an accelerated way to learn how something works.

Re:What if they leave? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#43091373)

employee paying for mandatory training is like the employee investing in the company. mandatory training done on your own time is also like working overtime. it's exactly like taking a pay cut.

so it's perfectly normal that the employer wold have to be pretty special for that to go through without grumbling.

if the employer wishes to contract just freelancers he's free to do so, depending on local law.

Re:What if they leave? (1)

berashith (222128) | about a year ago | (#43092777)

also, what if you dont train your employees and they leave? If workers cant advance they will get bored, or you will have a crappy workforce. Replacing a current employee from outside the organization has a huge ramp up time, hiring costs, and if they have the new skill already, can be more expensive than the one who left.

Wrong Direction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43091001)

An IT specialist should be interested of ongoing trends and actively inform himself.
He should also be able to learn by himself from a good book (and find out which *is* the best book for every area).

That's why IMHO industry trainings and certifications are bullshit.
Industry courses usually cost a lot, deliver few information not published somewhere obvious and are so condensed that they allow not time for reflection.

Ask your boss to be so kind to:
- pay your participation at a scientific conference in a relevant IT area
- buy books
- supply you with hardware resources to try the stuff in the books

In most companies, part of these activities are considered working time, part are considered the private responsibility of the employee.
You should find a balance that's fair both to you and to your boss.
Take into consideration that both the company and you (after changing jobs) independently profit of you learning something!
Moreover: you have to be able to convince your superiors that your area of interest is relevant to your work!

Re:Wrong Direction (1)

ledow (319597) | about a year ago | (#43091209)

I agree, but there's a lot of places where it just doesn't work (they're wrong, of course, but convincing them to see that is another matter entirely).

I've been offered training by employers several times (sometimes even while as a contractor) and I turn it down. Usually the training they want to provide is inadequate or just unsuitable and they don't know, but also even the "good" training does nothing more than look pretty on a CV (resume) after a year or so.

We can just ignore the box-ticking, book-memorisation vendor-sponsored courses and go straight to those with actual practical benefit and, basically, you find that you're already doing the job that they are intended to train you for.

It doesn't mean you're perfect or know everything, but the value available from such a course is usually greatly diminished for anyone who's half-decent at their job. And if they're not half-decent at their job, the training will be over their heads, stress them out, show them up, or just plain make them leave (and, well, that's kind of what you get when you employ those who aren't good enough for the job anyway).

I've politely explained this to several workplaces and they've tended to agree but there is a culture in some industries that even box-ticking on training your staff is considered vital. Who cares if they learn, so long as you can say you sent them on a course? The worst kind of red-tape management bullshit.

And does lack of training prevent me finding work? Not really. I've never been unemployed. I changed jobs at the height of the recession. I've applied for, and got, jobs that state they "require" X, Y, Z without any of them - just demonstrating the ability to learn on my own, and get on with the job, and even know more than some of those people who are supposed to have certifications in a specific area.

Training is a management box-ticking exercise, nothing more. If you have to train your staff to do their job, they aren't doing their job. Sure, if you have to send them on a course to - say - be a fire warden when they've never been a fire warden - that's different. That's outside their normal bounds. Or if you have to have some H&S review training because someone was an idiot and didn't follow procedure. But if you have to send them on courses to increase their skills in their own job, then maybe they are in the wrong place anyway.

If you were a programmer, or a NASA specialist, or a research physician, sending you "on training" to some external company to get a little certificate isn't going to do squat that you aren't already required to do as part of your job anyway. There's required on-the-job training that can't be learned any other way (e.g. doctors, nurses, etc. practising on patients under supervision before they are let loose on their own), there's training to comply with some legislation (H&S, fire, etc.), and there's training to make your CV look better. And, of course, employers should be wary of the latter, because it's the stuff that that employee should have been learning for themselves anyway.

I detest workplaces full of people who qualified to do the job 20+ years ago and refuse to change (because they can't) and don't TRY to update their methods. Unfortunately, I work in one of the worst industries for that (education).

If I didn't update my skills for 20 years, I'd be putting ZX Spectrums into ICT Suites, and would be sacked in seconds. Do I get paid to do it? Yes. It's called my job. Do I get sent on external training to do it? No. It's called my job.

I once had the irony of being told I "needed" to go on a basic IT course that *I* had set up the room for that it was going to be held in. I bet the person running the session wasn't able to do that, they just had a basic understanding of Office. When I pointed out that *I* was the person that built and installed the system the training was going to be held on, it was decided that maybe it wasn't "needed" after all.

Re:Wrong Direction (3, Informative)

vulcan1701 (1245624) | about a year ago | (#43091325)

Training is a management box-ticking exercise, nothing more

In some branches of the DoD they use partnerships with industry, e.g. Cisco Academy, to provide initial and follow-on training. While this sounds great with 1000s of students having CCNA and CCNP training every year (without required cert test afterward), it does not translate to what the students will actually 'do'. It s a cookie-cutter approach to circumvent the lengthy 'point-of-instruction' change management process used in the military training environment. In this case I agree with the quoted sentence above as it sounds like a good news story rather than actually training the force to do their job.

For the rest of the paragraph however, my supervisor and I discussed this and he stated there are three types of education: What you learn to do your job, what you learn for your career and what he called life-long learning. How to run the new version of VMware is the first. A MCSE certification track could be the next and attending seminars related to HR and budgeting (when you are an server admin) relate to the last.

Re:Wrong Direction (2)

Ash Vince (602485) | about a year ago | (#43091425)

That's why IMHO industry trainings and certifications are bullshit.
Industry courses usually cost a lot, deliver few information not published somewhere obvious and are so condensed that they allow not time for reflection.

Some times the condensed nature though is exactly what is needed.

A friend of mine worked for a company that adopted the Zend Framework for their core product. They needed an entire dev team of 10 or 20 people to be up to speed and writing solid code in a few weeks so they brought trainers in and brought the entire team up to speed and paid for them all to do certification. This let them advertise the fact that all their developers were Zend certified, but more importantly it meant that inside a month the company was back to extending their core product and hence back to earning revenue from selling the new features to clients.

I spent the best part of six months learning Zend on the job. In that time I made some mistakes which ultimately resulted in code I had to go back to and change. Also, the first project I did overran considerably. I was often unable to say how much longer the project would take because I was trying to learn something I previously knew very little about and did not know how much work remained.

Sometimes investing in certification and training pays off, especially when you want to leverage new technology to enhance the services your company provides quickly to keep ahead of your competitors.

Career advancement for you, ROI for the company (2)

Stolpskott (2422670) | about a year ago | (#43091149)

Bottom line, there is no law that says an employer has to reimburse you, unless that reimbursement is covered in your employment contract.
Most employers will take a flexible approach unless they are in a cost-cutting phase (even then, if you can show that your training course will allow you to do both your job and that of the smelly antisocial guy next to you that the manager hates, the manager will probably swing to the cost of the certification materials, on-the-job training time and exam, with a contract caveat that you will be liable for those costs if you voluntarily leave the company within 2-3 years), but it is a relatively simple balancing act:
What added value will this certification provide to the company vs. what is the cost of the certification process in materials, lost work hours and financial expenditure.
Also, how easy is it to replace you with a lower/same paid person if you decide to leave should the training request be turned down; or will this training course make you more likely to stay with the employer/more likely to leave or be head-hunted.

Working as a consultant, certification in relevant and recognized skill areas helps my company open opportunities with other clients, or new areas within the same client. However, if the company does not get any more per-head revenue for those areas then I am not going to see any direct financial benefit (maybe something unofficial, that the company can write off against tax, but that is about it).
Fundamentally, the company has to earn enough from my contract to pay me and make my mandatory benefits contributions. If the contract mandates 40 man-hours per week for X, then that sets a ceiling for my remuneration. If my certification does not enable the company to renegotiate the cost of the contract, then my employer has to reduce their share of the pie (make less profit) in order to reward me. However, if that certification makes me more attractive to another potential client who is willing to cover my contract at 40 hours per week for 1.5*X, then the employer can move me to the new client, give me a pay rise, and bring in a new body to replace me. The old client may not be too happy to lose me, but the contract is not for MY services at 40 hours per week, it is for 40 man-hours.

Suggestion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43091241)

Provide a budget to each employee for training/exams, say $2,500 / year. All training requests must be approved by their manager first (to ensure they are aligned with the company needs). Only reimburse exam fees if the exam is passed (employee incentive to succeed).

Re:Suggestion (1)

1s44c (552956) | about a year ago | (#43092365)

Provide a budget to each employee for training/exams, say $2,500 / year. All training requests must be approved by their manager first (to ensure they are aligned with the company needs). Only reimburse exam fees if the exam is passed (employee incentive to succeed).

WHA!? $2500 a year for training and exams?

There might be some companies where that's the right amount but in most that would just mean employees taking a week or two in training courses on anything just to get a free holiday.

I'd give employees a $200 book allowance and pay for exams.

Trainings are more effective if your mind is clear (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43091389)

There is a very good reason to do work related training during work hours: you need a clear mind to learn something.

I've worked in a place that abandoned that idea. Trainings required for work were on the employees time and the cost was shared 50-50. Some vital ones were given in-house by external trainers after working hours. The idea was that employees benefit by increasing their market value and therefore should be happy, and the company couldn't afford to lose the hours of productivity trainings in company time would cost.

That didn't work at all. The place was so busy and stressful that employees were already close to exhaustion. Taking in new information just doesn't work well after a stressful working day, and by not getting enough rest productivity suffered the next day, even days. They saved hours but not productivity, and the trainings were far less effective than they should have been.

Interestingly in that same company management trainings were all done during work hours and fully paid for by the company, which somehow didn't help people in other positions to get more motivated. You might want to look into how that works in your place, if your management recognise their own human limits but not yours you have something important to point out to them.

In hindsight they could afford the loss of productivity. It seriously collapsed. The situation with trainings of course was only a symptom of what went wrong. The real problem was that the place got poisoned with an increasing army of PHBs unable who seemed to think the actual work was a minor part of getting things done. When I left the level of idiocy reached was that there were both more active projects and project leaders than people to man the projects. That was 5 years ago, and from what I gather the productivity of developers still is a fraction of what it used to be. And they survived that so far (it's not an IT company but a company with an IT department, that probably helps).

People are most productive if they enjoy their work, get enough rest to be sharp, and aren't treated like shit. Doing trainings on company time is part of that, it is an investment that pays itself back.

Re:Trainings are more effective if your mind is cl (1)

1s44c (552956) | about a year ago | (#43092391)

There is a very good reason to do work related training during work hours: you need a clear mind to learn something.

Mostly you need to be interested in it. If you love football ( for example ) you are still happy to talk about it after being stressed out at work all day.

indenture (1)

porjo (964384) | about a year ago | (#43091479)

In my experience it is common for the employer to pay for all or some of the training on the condition that if you leave the company you pay them back a percentage based on a sliding scale e.g. if you leave before 12mths you pay back 100%, 12-18mths, you pay back 50% etc Seems fair to me.

I don't think it's reasonable for the employer to be expected to pay for failed exam attempts however.

Training (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43091493)

Training is something every company should do, but in practice it rarely happens unless it is to gain a specific skill needed on the job. If employers are going to pay extensively for new skills they usually want a contract that you repay if leaving within a reasonable timeframe.

Basic manual labor rates are under $12/hr (2)

Overzeetop (214511) | about a year ago | (#43091523)

If you're getting paid more than that, you should be expected to do more than just show up and expect them to give you a shovel, a hammer, or a keyboard and to train you to do every single task you're asked.

I'm going to give your co-worker a hint: that voluntary training is increasing your worth in the marketplace. It's not just an advantage to your current employer. Put another way - imagine you are a small employer and your employee wants you to pay for their training. Would you offer them an hour a day to study, plus costs of books? That's 12% of their total compensation package, 12% loss of revenue (or an increase in 12% effort spread over the rest of the "team") that you have no guarantee of ever recouping. Before you ask an employer for money, take a good hard look at whether that money is going to provide a guaranteed, tangible benefit to the bottom line of the business. If you can't find a way that it either saves or increases revenue by 20% of the investment*, it's going to be a hard sell.

*when counting costs, take the actual materials and course cost, then add your hourly rate x 2.0-2.5 x total work hours you'll spend. That will give you the actual cost to the business.

Re:Basic manual labor rates are under $12/hr (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43091967)

I was getting paid much more than $12/hr. Was my first job after university too and yes, they gave me a keyboard to work with and did not expect me to already know everything there is to know all by myself. First thing my new boss did, was send me to a week-long course on T-SQL and soon after that to another week long course on Sybase Replication Server administration. Paid for hotel costs (max. 90EUR/day) etc. too. Those two weeks of training are actually guaranteed by the company (work council agreement, about 1000 employees, no direct union afiliation, although most of the agreements, like payscale were copy&pasted from a union).

Now you probably think, that must be awful. How can an economy even work under these draconian, employer hating circumstances. Pretty well actually. I worked a 40 hour week and this company is nowhere near any problems, even in "this economy". For reference, this was in Germany.

That said, I'm more of a self-learner type, so I don't actually want to go to training and take certifications. I'd rather be given some equipment and time to play with things and a goal to achieve.

Re:Basic manual labor rates are under $12/hr (1)

Ryanrule (1657199) | about a year ago | (#43094151)

Um, you can clear $20/hour in the midwest driving a forklift around a warehouse.

Re:Basic manual labor rates are under $12/hr (1)

Jaime2 (824950) | about a year ago | (#43095723)

I'm going to give your co-worker a hint: that voluntary training is increasing your worth in the marketplace. It's not just an advantage to your current employer.

I've worked for a training provider and seen this from the other side. Increasing your marketplace value is actually a negative for the employer. From that point forward the company has a higher chance of losing you. Some employers would contract with us for special training that omits sections that are big on the certification test and not relevant to the work the employee is doing for the company. I'm not suggesting that this was a good thing, but it shows that certification isn't necessarily a win-win.

Dotcom Style (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43091573)

It sounds like your person wants everything handed to him. There was a time where his way was the most common one. It was back in the late 90's, around the time of the dotcom bubble. There may be some companies that still do it this way.

But, I'll bet this guy will bitch when the other shoe drops. During the dotcom bubble, there was a lot of "churn". That is employees jumping from one company to the next for a little more money. This caused one company to pay for someone's training and certification and then they would jump to the other company for a 10% increase in pay. To prevent this from happening, employees receiving training/certification had to sign a contract.

The company provides the training and certification and the employee remains with the company for minimum X years(usually 3). If the employee leaves by his own choice before the 3 years are up, he must reimburse the company for the cost of the training and certification. Often, the amount was prorated.

I'll bet your co-worker will take issue with this contract. He's a leach.

Certification Policies (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43091651)

Where I work, certification is encouraged, and might even be considered mandatory for career progression. Here's how we do it.

Training materials are purchased by the company. There is a department that handles that, removing the cost burden from the employee's department, eliminating any pressure not to get trained by whomever is responsible for department P&L. Training materials may consist of classroom-based training, videos, books, and/or equipment for the lab. The lab is available remotely, with servers virtualized (with snapshots to pristine configurations) and network equipment console access via reverse Telnet. Connectivity within the lab (which devices connect to which switch ports) is also documented and publicly available. There is typically very little reason to go into the lab itself except maybe for wireless stuff.

Training itself tends to happen off work hours. There is plenty of work to go around. When there is downtime -- whether an employee's skillset is insufficient for current projects or a project was unexpectedly put on hold due to customer scheduling -- then training during work hours is encouraged. It beats surfing the web. When it comes to the Vue/Prometric certification test, that's also completely paid by the company.

Certification will inevitably make the engineer want more money -- pay for the materials, pay me to study, pay for the test, then increase my salary or I'll find somewhere else to work. In a way, I understand the mentality, but in another way, it's pretty crappy. To combat that, our company has a payback policy, which declines to $0 after 24 months of an expense. For three months after an expense, if you leave the company for any reason, you are responsible for reimbursing the company for the cost of your training. For the following 21 months, the company accepts 1/21th the cost -- the idea is that the engineer is paying back the cost of materials/testing through increased efficiency. After 24 months, engineers are completely off the hook; we can quit and go somewhere else to make more money with no strings attached.

While the payback policy may seem a bit strict, there's a fair amount of engineer turnover at the mid-level range. Someone will get their MCSE or CCNP, look at a salary survey, compare themselves to people who have been in senior positions for 10+ years and demand equal payment or they'll go somewhere else where they're appreciated... The cost of certain trainings, such as VMWare and Cisco UCCX, pretty much require that you spend several weeks in a classroom with instructor-based training. The training is expensive, but the employee is also getting paid for a 40-hour week, a hotel room, food and car, etc. In my opinion, it's not fair to ask a company to assume all of the expenses and the risk. If someone wants to get trained and it costs $30-50k (especially if lab gear is requested), then at least stick around after getting certified. To clarify, employees are not on the hook for lab gear reimbursement, nor do they have the option of taking it with them when they leave.

The CCIE exams are the only exception. The written portion is treated like any other Vue test as described above. As for the lab portion, there's a lot of expensive lab gear that's needed, and pretty much dedicated to the engineer for a period of 1-2 years. The equipment is expensive, and the lab test is expensive. After having an individual sit for the exam five times in just under three years, and then abruptly quit, the company decided that it was too expensive to simply front the cost (easily over $100k in lab gear alone, depending on the specialization). Now, the company pays for the first lab attempt (in advance) and the last attempt (as a reimbursement).

All in all, I think it's a fair deal. I have taken advantage of the certification offerings myself, and it's encouraged for everyone else to do so. Unless someone plans on jumping ship shortly after getting certified, it's not really a big deal. In all honesty, I don't know of anyone who has actually been required to pay back training after leaving. Everyone signs a document indicating that they understand and accept the policy when they hire in, and review it again the first time they request training, so maybe they're reserving the ability to exercise their right for people they feel flagrantly abused the free training.

Re:Certification Policies (1)

Tragedy4u (690579) | about a year ago | (#43095961)

CCIE Routing & Switching labs can mostly be virtualized now (switching is still a bit problematic but you only need about 4 3750-X switches not that expensive), it still is a very difficult exam I barely managed to pass on my second attempt. If you look around online you can also virtualize most of the CCIE Voice lab as well, with the exception of the voice gateways but the cost for these isn't too bad either. The worst of it all is the amount of time investment required to pass, it's just pure insanity. My R&S took a solid 8 months of preparation for two attempts, each exam attempt I also took two weeks off prior to the test and dedicated all of my time to 100% practicing. Honestly, looking back on it all....CCIE certification is NOT worth it!

Are certifications even worth it? (0)

Kookus (653170) | about a year ago | (#43091735)

I have either been a part of or have witnessed the outcomes of maybe 100 different training courses (75/25% split respectively). Each time, I find them almost completely worthless. The course material usually has 1 or 2 good things in it that you learn, and the rest is almost just common sense, or you can figure it out in 30 seconds with a google search.

In this day n age, if you can't find an answer that fast through a web search, then the problem you're trying to solve is of a proprietary nature. Most everything I'm working on has a primary goal of removing that proprietary piece out of the equation.

The training courses I find useful, and should be required by all software developers are those which I got "certification" for at a place called the University/College.
You know... Algorithms and Data Structures, Operating Systems, Computer Architecture/Networks/Security.

Re:Are certifications even worth it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43092193)

I guess another way of looking at it is, if your job can be solved using Google searches, maybe it's not really all that difficult? Googling is a very reactive way of addressing problems, performed by those who don't have the competency to do it without Googling (obviously), and those without the ability to have prevented the issue in the first place. Certification helps to address all of those things.

Take a recent example. After replacing a firewall, it's very common for it to not work. Actually, user traffic works but inbound connections from the Internet don't work. I've had to help several engineers through this, and Googling is no help. The issue is that replacement firewalls have different MAC addresses, and upstream (and downstream) routers will still have the old MAC cached in the ARP table. As such, traffic to NATed IP addresses by those routers is sent to the wrong MAC and ignored by the firewall. User NAT traffic isn't affected by this, since they originate traffic, allowing the upstream router to update its MAC table. This issue auto-corrects after the ARP tables are flushed and the new MACs relearned (up to 4 hours on Cisco routers). The difference between a certified engineer and uncertified one is the difference between a smooth implementation (because they know to flush the ARP caches) and one that has hours of unexpected downtime (and frantic Google searches). In our area, a CCIE certified engineer starts at $130k/year.

You may be confusing college certificates with industry certifications. They're very different. Industry certifications are usually well worth it. Still, there are those that use Testking (or something similar) to get the test questions in advance, but those guys are usually pretty easy to pick out of a crowd. They're the engineers that are Googling.

certifications are like proof of fluency (1)

CaptainNerdCave (982411) | about a year ago | (#43092601)

In a nutshell, a certification is like a piece of paper that says "I can speak this language fluently.".

If you didn't know how to speak Hindi, but needed to do business in a remote part of India where Hindi is the dominant language, wouldn't it be nice if you could hire someone (local to you) with proof of their fluency?

The problem is that far too many HR departments and managers don't understand that demanding roughly half of these certifications from anyone who has spent even a year in IT would be akin to demanding a native English speaker have some kind of ESL training/certification.

Re:certifications are like proof of fluency (1)

Kookus (653170) | about a year ago | (#43092943)

There's no proof in a certificate. You can buy them if you want. (http://www.buyitcert.com/)
If you need a certificate for proof, then you're not even trying.

Re:certifications are like proof of fluency (1)

CaptainNerdCave (982411) | about a year ago | (#43093317)

I probably should have added a couple of notes about how the best people don't waste their time with certifications, because their previous experience exceeds the crap these certifications imply.

Make no mistake, I think this garbage is as useless to the IT world as used toilet paper is to a hungry man, but there are still short-sighted management units and HR drones that will only believe you know anything about magical black boxes if you have a piece of paper from someone else who says that you do.

My company... (2)

jacknifetoaswan (2618987) | about a year ago | (#43091753)

My company has a very small library of books, and a decent amount of training material on a shared drive for the site, yet a lot of the books and materials are several years old. I'm studying for Server+ right now, and the most recent book they have is from 2004. I recently tried to get the site director to purchase some new training books, but was told that they'd 'maybe' be able to get the books in six months. Otherwise, I could purchase the books myself, and they'd 'maybe' be able to reimburse me in six to eight months. They do allow you to read and study during downtime, which is nice, but I've done quite a bit of studying on my own time, too. Once it comes time for the exam, they do reimburse you for the cost of the exam, provided you pass it and attain the certificate.

That said, my company uses its employee's credentials to bid on contracts, so it behooves them to encourage us to get CompTIA, GIAC, CISSP, or EC-Council certified, so that they're able to bid higher amounts with better qualified workers. They even tie certifications to our yearly performance evals, requiring that we attain one cert, yearly, to meet our professional development goal, and two to exceed it. We get a small bump in pay for the certs, as well. A Server+ cert might get us $250/year, while a CISSP could get us $1000, and Certified Ethical Hacker might be $2000, however, the pay bumps are only done every six months, and from what I hear, it can be even longer than that.

My previous company placed ZERO emphasis on professional training or certification, other than Security+, and an OS cert to meet DoD 8570 certification requirements.

My opinion on this? I shelled out a couple hundred bucks for training materials for Server+, Linux+, and CISSP, simply because their training materials are very old. They also don't send people to training classes, even for something like the CISSP, which is a fairly difficult exam. If they're going to bid on contracts and REQUIRE me to hit certain training goals, there should be money put aside, yearly, for the office to attain those certs. I don't mind putting out the money for the exams, then being reimbursed, but at least get me adequate training materials, and send me to one class per year.

Re:My company... (1)

1s44c (552956) | about a year ago | (#43092303)

I recently tried to get the site director to purchase some new training books, but was told that they'd 'maybe' be able to get the books in six months.

Don't ask if they can buy books for you, just buy them yourself and try to claim for them. It's far easier to get forgiveness than permission. Just buy the books if you need them and fill in the standard expense form. At worse you will end up paying for the books yourself but more likely they will pay you without much complaint.

Re:My company... (1)

jacknifetoaswan (2618987) | about a year ago | (#43093363)

Nah, this place isn't likely to dump any money into training materials. They're certain that the materials they provide are adequate for anyone to attain the certs they seek, even if they are 'a little old'.

I'll just claim it as a write-off on my taxes next year, as an unreimbursed business expense.

Re:My company... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43093667)

CISSP? Really? That is a major designation involving 5+ years of professional experience in the field, plus passing the exam every 3 years. It's kinda like passing the bar or getting designated as a CA / CPA. Just fact checking here.

In the lap of luxury (1)

zerosomething (1353609) | about a year ago | (#43091929)

I'm in Higher Ed and we actually have our own Microsoft Certified trainer on staff as part of our IT Training group. We also have Comp TIA and Adobe training along with free access to Lynda.com. University students can take training most trainings nearly free, faculty and staff may pay something. If there is a paper (work)book you do have to pay for that but usually your department will cover that cost. When you have close to 20K employes across the system, of which 800 or so are IT related, then it pays to have trainers. You usually get one payed attempt at the certification test. After that you pay for it. This even applies to our hourly staff even if they aren't students. The issues we have are departments not letting their people take a week off to do the training or they won't pay the book fees.

Travel for training is different. The training or conference needs to be directly related to what you do or will be doing but usually the university will cover it for one member of a team.

In education our wages are much lower than industry but time off and retirement savings are better. We get about 4 to 6 weeks time off and in addition to regular salary we probably get 30% to 40% more in benefits.

Pretty good situation (1)

teej21012 (1800072) | about a year ago | (#43092049)

We are a M$ shop, so all of our certifications are M$ related. Company pays for first and second attempts and gives bonus based on difficulty of certification, i.e. MCITP cert pays bigger than MCTS cert. They also pay for any books/training materials you wish to have.

Usual practice in other industries (1)

LeepII (946831) | about a year ago | (#43092149)

Semi - conductor worker here. My employers have always paid for training up front. I wouldn't work at a job that expected me to pay for training the employer requires. I am provided the study materials, I am paid for my study time and for the time spent actually in a classroom. Sounds like the IT field is getting the short end of the stick.

You will not like my answer (1)

1s44c (552956) | about a year ago | (#43092209)

IT training where I work consists of buying the book, reading the book, playing with the software.

Classroom training courses cost thousands and are used as holidays by staff who don't even care about the subjects they are sent to learn. It's a bad deal. There isn't much you can't learn by reading the book or from Google and if you don't have the motivation to read the book and play with the software you really don't care about the subject enough to be any good at it anyway.

Multinationals will always tell you they care about your career advancement but in the end it's always your problem not theirs. The only difference between a bad company and a good company is the number of barriers they put in your way.

Re:You will not like my answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43093321)

It depends. Back in the day I had novell and cisco certs (probably expired and not relevant to my work any more) in both cases I took classes (on my own dime) because getting access to novell servers or a lab full of cisco gear was cost prohibitive. While this isn't really the case anymore on the software side its still the case that doing training can be cheaper than building a cisco, juniper, etc lab.

IT really needs a apprenticeship system that can (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#43092301)

IT really needs a apprenticeship system that can work in real Training with jobs and NOT the college system we have now.

Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43092409)

What is this internal training you speak of? My company doesn't believe in such things as they feel they are wasting money training us to get a better job.

Continuing education is encouraged here. (2)

ErichTheRed (39327) | about a year ago | (#43092871)

You're pointing out an interesting fact about the IT industry -- there are some really good places to work and some that are really awful. And that definition of good and awful depends on the individual/situation. Without going too far off topic, think about working at Google vs. a "traditional" IT employer like a bank or hospital. Google is ideal for young/single workers who kind of want to continue the college dorm atmosphere. Free meals, concierge service, funky office space, etc. all designed to extract maximum hours out of a workforce who doesn't mind working 80 or 90 hours a week because nothing else is going on in their lives ATM. A more staid IT employer can either be a soul-crushing experience, or (in my case) realize that they need to attract mature talented people. (I work for an IT company that exclusively services a very staid, established industry sector for which correctness and uptime come before speed and flashy stuff.)

Just like corporate cultures are different, training policies are different. Our product design groups basically have to take all the latest flashy tech off the shelf and get it working reliably for our industry, so we're constantly learning. Since our company also deals with a few industry-proprietary skills that aren't easy to come by off the street, long-term employment is also encouraged. (And yes, I know that's wierd and 20th Century, but I like it now that I'm married with children.) We're encouraged to do one company-paid course a year, typically one of those week-long classroom sessions. Certification exams are also reimbursed, even if you don't do them as part of your formal course. Anyone who starts out with our company (including when I started) is told up front that they'll be given all the training they need in the proprietary side of the business, but that they'll be useless for at least the first 8 months while they learn. They then get our internal training where they learn the basics of our customer's business, the fundamental concepts behind what we do, and get to work on small projects. Also, university courses are fully reimbursed once good grades are submitted if you so desire.

I realize that my situation isn't typical, and we can only do it due to our unique situation. But the reality is that this should be the norm. On the job training should be encouraged if your company wants people who are engaged and understand the business side of things. Otherwise in my experience you get a never-ending stream of generic VMWare people, generic Windows people, generic Citrix people, etc. who only get the IT side of things because that's what they need to do to keep jumping ship every 2 years. Part of the reason why our company does well is that the consulting staff knows the customer's business beyond some crash PowerPoint briefing that they read on the plane before they showed up to work.

Bottom line, IT employers should invest in their people and not expect ready made new hires. IT employees should actively seek these employers out to encourage the bad ones to change their practices.

Re:Continuing education is encouraged here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43094781)

Sounds like it's a good question to ask during a job interview.

Pay your own way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43093049)

Right now since our company is not doing to hot they wont even pay for a day trip for a free fact gather session for we do at our place. So i am just paying out of my pocket so I can use it as a springboard. Look at cheap conferences SCALE, or CASCADIA IT in Seattle. They are affordable and you will learn a new skill. Or you can I do also, get an old CL computer install Linux, install the technology play with it and figure it out.

training? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43093709)

On the plus side, we do get to read the manuals and call tech support for the first 30 days..

IT Training (1)

sabre_13 (1813636) | about a year ago | (#43094001)

I have experienced nearly 30 years in both GOV and Commercial environments. Training had gotten tighter and tighter over the last 5 years. Having to pay out of pocket is not unusual and from my perspective make the employee a bit more involved and in the training and something at stake if they just planned on blowing it off. If you pass it you get most of your investment back, if you don't, well maybe you didn't want it bad enough. The comment about getting training for a specific skill set is the new way of doing things. Much pressure is being put on the creators of the DOD 8570 requirement to do away with or at least augment the requirement for the overarching certification and focus on the specific training a particular person need, CISCO, IDS/IPS, Firewall, Fortify, Retina, Nessus, what have you. They don't need to be a mile wide and and inch deep as the CISSP requires, it requires in depth knowledge of one product.

IT Training (1)

cronos1013 (1412777) | about a year ago | (#43094607)

I have been working in IT for about a decade now, and I have experienced a range of policies on training. Currently I work at a private university in Boston, if the certification is something the department wants you to get they will pay you, provide all training materials, and provide time for you to study. However it if is not related to our job, or something we wish to get on our own, they WILL reimburse us for a passed exam, but the training materials and time spent studying is on our own dime.

Training (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43094693)

Working for an IT consulting company, it's probably different than a lot of places. Here, unless it's an expensive class or test (those typically require higher approval and advance requests/more planning for the following FY), all expenses (books, related study materials/exam prep guides, exam fees) are expensed out with a little heads up/quick approval from your direct report. All exams (including exam fees and travel expenses for CCIE-level tests) are paid by the company up to 3 failures, then it's on you after that. If you leave the company for whatever reason within 2 or 3 years after getting the cert, you have to pay back a prorated amount. Business-related college courses are reimbursed on a grade-level basis (100% for A, 80 for B, 60 or 70 for C, 0 for F, something to that effect). Man, I fucking love my job.... heheh.

What is that word? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43094715)

Training?

my 2c (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43094723)

i usually train on my own on what interests me , i then post my updated certs and training to linkedin for ex. and track the job offers / compensation by achievements , i then sit down with my manager and renegotiate my current compensation on the basis of what is being offered elsewhere

Paying for "resume padding" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43094913)

I once had a CIO who was reluctant to send employees to training, because in his view why should he pay to pad their resumes so they can find another job?

There is no law (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43096013)

There is no law that says they have to, but a good company invests in its employees. I've heard the argument that if they provide training the employee might take that education and go somewhere else. I have to wonder: why would the employee go somewhere else if he's working for a good company, paying competitive wages with benefits, that invests in its employees??? Any time a company says this it's a clear indication that it's not a good place to work.

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