According to a recent poll from staffing firm Robert Half, more and more professionals are getting support from their employers to continue their education. A majority of polled CFOs (72 percent) said their companies cover some to all of the cost for their staff to obtain professional certifications.

76 percent also claimed their organization help in maintaining earned credentials. However, approximately one-third of respondents (29 percent) said their business offers no financial support for continuing education.

"Keeping your skills up to date is vital to career advancement, and acquiring a general or industry-specific certification is one way to do so," said Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half, in a statement. "Employers often support ongoing development because they benefit from well-educated, highly skilled professionals who are current with trends and able to apply what they've learned to business needs."

"If you are hesitant to ask your company to cover certification costs, do your research and outline the advantages of the training," he added, "Since you're not the only beneficiary, consider which one will give you and your company the best return on investment when deciding between a few certifications."

[IMGCAP(1)]
CFOs were asked, "How, if at all, does your company support its employees in their efforts to receive professional certifications?" Their responses were as follows:

Full support – the company pays all educational costs

33%

Partial support – the company pays some educational costs

39%

No support at all

29%

 

101%*

*Responses do not equal 100 percent due to rounding.

CFOs were also asked, "How, if at all, does your company support its employees in their efforts to maintain professional certifications?" Their responses were:

Full support – the company pays all educational costs

38%

Partial support – the company pays some educational costs

38%

No support at all

24%

 

100%

The survey was conducted by an independent research firm, based on telephone interviews with more than 2,200 CFOs from a stratified random sample of companies in more than 20 of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas.

Robert Half offers the following tips to garnering company support for professional certifications:

  • Make a business case: Devise a plan before you approach your boss. Describe how the certification will allow you to make greater contributions to the company. Consider, too, that some professional certifications have a stronger return on investment than others.
  • Cite immediate benefits: Show examples of how the certification will help improve productivity, bring additional revenue or allow you to take on additional responsibilities.  
  • Prepare for the future: Explain to your manager how your training will develop you for leadership positions. Most CFOs realize the importance of succession planning, and they're looking for rising stars who may be able to fill the pipeline.  
  • Share the wealth: Let your boss know that an investment in your education can strengthen the entire organization. Offer to share the information learned or mentor colleagues to extend the value of your added expertise.
  • Divide the cost: If your manager denies your request, don't give up. Are you willing to cover part of the fees for your professional certification? If not, revisit the conversation in a few months if you sense your boss may be more open to it in the future.  

 For more on Robert Half, head to their site here.