In an increasingly difficult job market where job stability is coming under question, earning additional education in your field can help set you apart from the competition. If you are in the market for an advanced degree and wish to have the program paid for by your employer, you’re most likely to prove your case to a larger corporation—although some non-profits or small businesses also place a high value on their staff’s continuing education.
Even though more companies than you may think are friendly to the idea of tuition assistance, many don’t possess formal reimbursement policies. To begin, read through your company’s employee handbook. If you find no sign of advanced education reimbursement procedures or rules, you still have the opportunity to pitch the idea to your employer. In this case, you will need to draft a convincing proposal as to why an advanced degree or certificate would help you do your job more effectively and make you a more valuable asset to your company. Take some tips below to construct the best proposal possible – and good luck!
1. Find the Best Program for You
First, you need to understand that you can’t just enroll in any degree or certificate program. If you’re proposing that your company reimburse your tuition payments, you will likely still be working your 9-to-5 job while taking classes. Many programs have full-time night programs available, but you have to be prepared for the huge time commitment that working all day and going to class many nights and weekends—plus outside-of-class assignments—will bring. Would a part-time program work better for you? Be prepared to argue the merits of whatever route you end up choosing.
2. Be Thorough
Beyond the fact that you need to research the amount of time it will take you and the hard work you will have to exert in order to complete your program, you also need to give your employer a fairly accurate estimate of the courses you plan to take. Highlight classes that directly and/or immediately relate to your current position. It may even serve you well to develop a comprehensive yet concise two-year plan (or however many years it will take you plan), that outlines your class schedule and tracks the types of skills you will gain along the way.
3. Clearly Communicate Benefits to the Company
This step is perhaps the most crucial to a successful proposal: Be sure to demonstrate why and how your company will benefit from you taking additional courses. For instance, if you are a salesperson earning an MBA, you will need to make a clear case that taking a social media marketing class will enhance your abilities and breadth as a salesperson. But you can’t simply propose that learning new skills will make you a better worker; you will have to try to quantify or at least qualify the new assets a more thorough education will help you bring to the table.
4. Remember the Extra Costs
Also, be sure to remember that some employers are willing to reimburse you for other school costs, especially things like books or transportation costs. While these things may not thought be thought of as major financial concerns, they can really add up. Include an estimate of what these additional expenses may be, and request for them to be compensated as well.