How To: Certification and Pay Rises

One issue that often gets asked is whether you should ask for a pay rise after you have passed a certification exam. Let’s say that you have just passed your latest certification exam, and you feel that you now have greater value and skills so it’s time to talk about a pay rise with your boss.

Of course the boss doesn’t want pay to you any more money. First, don’t take it personally. It’s their job to run the department for the minimum cost against the budget. So their default argument is going to be something like: ìNow that you have these new skills, we will want to see them making a difference to the business before we can afford to give you a pay rise”.

Naturally, You won’t be happy with this answer. All that work, and effort, pressure and no recognition. Dammit.

But think! How can you turn this to your advantage ? What can we say that will change your boss’s perception of you and your work ?

Consider that you have been studying for, let’s say, a year and during that time you have been learning a great deal. And you know that your work has been improving. You are giving better support for faster resolution, ability to undertake a wider range of tasks, and you are helping to enhance the services of your department. In reality, you have been delivering better capability, better outcomes, better services and lower support costs for your company by comprehending more technology.

Asking for the Pay Rise.

The point that you should be making to your employer is that you have been delivering benefits to the company with improved knowledge, skills and focus because of the learning that you have done in the last six months or a year. And that passing this exam, proves that you have been delivering those skills. You don’t magically have them now that you have passed some test, they were there already.

That’s why you deserve a pay rise. Because you have been doing a better job through learning and new skills and the examination is to prove that you already have them.

  • Fernando

    Nice points, Greg. I think it is a good reminder that “certification” in our field used to be about “certifying” (i.e. validating) what you already know, and not studying for that exam alone.

    Sure, the letters (in my case) or digits (who knows, one day perhaps) after the name are nice, but the true value to the professional should be the knowledge/skills they have.

    From that premise, negotiating a pay raise should be tied to measurable objectives (as you well point out) with the actual certification being just “confirmation” that the skills you have acquired/demonstrated are actually on par with others in the industry.

    Fernando (CISSP)

  • Julien Goodwin

    The other case is if the company is a partner, or needs certified people for specific reasons. I don’t associate my Cisco credentials to my current employer because they won’t compensate me for it, yet it provides a significant benefit to them.

  • Justin

    People shouldn’t focus on the certification aspect of it as you point out. They should focus on the customer service part.

    If you work for a partner and are planning on getting a bunch of certifications, discuss your expectations in advance. Don’t just get the certifications and expect the money to start rolling in. I had this problem early in my career. Yes, my employer wanted me get certified in different things, but it didn’t pay off the way I thought it would. If you are expecting X dollars, you need to negotiate those dollars ahead of time.