I am a software developer, and I am studying for the CISSP exam, which I will pay for out of my own pocket (US$699). I will take the exam in February. I have been working with my current employer for about three years now, and during this time, I have earned many other certifications, all of which I paid for with my own money.

This time, for the CISSP exam, I would like my employer to pay for it. How do I convince my manager (with whom I have an excellent professional relationship) to have the company reimburse me after I pass?

  • 6
    Be prepared to answer the question: "How will your CISSP certificate benefit the company?".
    – Nobody
    Jan 6, 2019 at 9:46
  • Have you simply asked your boss if the company will pay for the exam?
    – Seth R
    Jan 7, 2019 at 19:45

5 Answers 5


You do not.

My stand on that would be simple: you do not ask after the fact. Period. Means: you should have asked BEFORE ORDERING the certification, not now that you got it.

I generally only refund costs that are one of the following:

  • Preapproved
  • Critical
  • Budgeted (which is actually a special case of blanket preapproval).

An exam is neither. As such, if an employee orders this before having a PO accepted - there is NO refund. Never. Out of principle.

Whether the exam HAS happened or not is irrelevant.

Now, for approval: is the exam NEEDED and does it provide additional business value? if not - automatic reject, I am not in the business to spend money on non business relevant expenses. And yes, most computer certifications are not actually NEEDED, legally. There are few exceptions: more for certain consultancies (customer demands it, so it is either have it or not getting work), less in the MS world (certified partner requires a NUMBER of certifications in the company, which can be a lower number than employees, so no automatic approval, and the business value is a bag of goodies worth MORE than maintaining the certifications = business value) but in general: no, pieces of paper.

  • 1
    I don't think the OP got the certificate yet. The exam is in Feb.
    – Nobody
    Jan 6, 2019 at 10:48
  • 1
    I learned in english classes that "I paid for it out of my own pocket" is past tense, i.e. it is already paid. This makes it a post factum - asking without emergency AFTER incurring a non critical expense. I.e. general answer: NO.
    – TomTom
    Jan 6, 2019 at 10:53
  • It does not matter when the exam happens at all - what matters is when the exam is ORDERED. If ordered before asking for permissions and non critical - no, not refunded. Ad the OP did state that he has paid. You seem to ahve edited this out without any clarification. It is totally possible the OP did order AND PAY and the exam has not happened yet. The answer like that is valid.
    – TomTom
    Jan 6, 2019 at 13:20
  • 1
    I would sometimes approve an expenditure like this even when not strictly essential as a goodwill gesture - often I would have no budget for pay increases but did have some discretionary funds that could be used for this type of thing (if it was a good employee that I wanted to keep!).
    – deep64blue
    Jan 6, 2019 at 21:55
  • I downvoted because this is a highly opinionated answer. If it was reworded to not be so specific to answerers case, then I would upvote it. It needs to be more objective Jan 7, 2019 at 19:41

Firstly, find out if your company has a policy in these matters, many do.

If they don't then ask if there is any recompense or other gain to be had by passing certifications. In one company I worked for, they didn't pay for anything, but if you gained a certification, they upped your pay since it directly benefited them to be able to list certified professionals. Another company I worked for they would pay for the exam if you passed.

Depending on their services and products certification can be a big deal for a company as it gives them suitably qualified staff which they can then add to their marketing tool kit.

But first you need to find out if they have a policy towards it, then move forwards from the response. You may be able to get a policy started, it's quite a big thing, because it sets a precedent and it's a bit of a gamble because the certification belongs to you and makes it easier for you to move away. I've paid for several employees certifications and they've all moved on. which I'm fine with, part of my business is used as a stepping stone to bigger things. But my business is tiny and I gain in other ways, other companies look at it differently as a loss.


As an information security professional who recently passed the same exam, I would begin by stressing how you, as an future Associate of ISC^2 and potentially full CISSP holder, would benefit the company with your additional knowledge. By making your employer realize the value added, they should be more likely to reimburse you.

There is one section of the CISSP curriculum focused on software development security. One theme of this section of the curriculum is that vulnerablities in software are best prevented / mitigated by following good information security practices in development. After the software is already released to production, it is usually more costly to remediate security deficiencies. I would agree based on my work experience as an security analyst and former auditor.

You seem to be someone who cares about getting security right, which is great. Translate how your increased awareness of secure development would save the company money - by building security controls at the point where it easiest, at the code development stage. In this manner, not only did you personally gain useful knowledge, but you are essentially also doing a valuable favor for your employer, by allowing them to save costs in the future.

Therefore, such future expenses saved should be reimbursed back to you.


You should be able to provide reasons, why your certification is beneficial for your company.

Reasons could be that with this certification your company would be able to get projects which require that sort of qualification.


Be careful that you don't ruin your "excellent professional relationship" with your manager by making such a ludicrous request.

Yes, many companies do reimburse their employees for being certified, taking exams and courses, what have you. But there's a structure and a purpose to it. You can't just show up one day and say "hey, I need to pay 700 dollars and it just occured to me that you may randomly decide to pay that for me. Would you?".

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