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I have never worked under a US Payroll before, this is my first time. By the end of 2017 I got my first performance review, in the letter they specified that I can only receive my new salary once I had evidence to obtain a certification on my field of expertise. Because of various reasons (work load being the main one) I was unable to study and get such certification, therefore I stuck with my same salary all of 2018. By the end of my next review they basically sent me the same letter with same salary offered in 2017 again conditioned to a certification.

I would appreciate if anyone can tell me if this is a common practice in the US.

Thanks!

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    It doesn't really matter if this is common practice or not, does it? The fact of the matter is that this is the practice at your current employer and if you want the raise they've offered then you need to meet their requirements. – joeqwerty Feb 21 at 0:12
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Not at all unheard of, especially in consulting agencies. Being able to place certified staff in direct or support roles for customers justifies higher fees.

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    Happened to my friend who worked as an actuary too. – jcmack Feb 21 at 0:09
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    Also not unheard of in service/maintenance IT roles, qualified techs have a direct impact on charges and service fees. Doubled my salary once by getting 4 certs. – Kilisi Feb 21 at 0:52
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While a certification may (or may not) be a common thing to ask for in search of a raise, it is common for a company to indicate what they would like to see before they start discussing raises.

In your case, they asked for a certification. You were too busy to provide one. You didn't get a raise. The following year, you mentioned the raise you were seeking, and they mentioned the certification they were seeking.

I'd have the certification ready before the next conversation about raises. It is hard to convince a person or company to give you what you want when they are still seeking what they want. It doesn't matter if what they want is certification, better documentation, or a different style of dress; failing to deliver what they request justifies their failure to deliver your request in their mind.

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By the end of 2017 I got my first performance review, in the letter they specified that I can only receive my new salary once I had evidence to obtain a certification on my field of expertise.

This is absolutely allowed. My job required that I earned a specific certificate within 6 months of starting it.

Because of various reasons (work load being the main one) I was unable to study and get such certification, therefore I stuck with my same salary all of 2018. By the end of my next review they basically sent me the same letter with same salary offered in 2017 again conditioned to a certification.

You shouldn’t expect to receive a different salary until you earn that certificate. You might want to ask what programs your company offers to help their employees earn the certificate in question.

My employer allowed my to study for the exam, paid for the exam, and pays for the recurring costs to keep the certificate that I was required to earn.

Your employer could also make it required at any point if they wanted. Typically, since it’s expensive to hire and train employees, they would give you time to earn the certificate (but that isn’t guaranteed).

I would appreciate if anyone can tell me if this is a common practice in the US.

This is common practice in many countries including the U.S.A

  • If you want that raise, spend that additional time each night, and get that certificate. Don’t expect the policy to change, because, that’s very unlikely to happen. – Donald Feb 21 at 5:29

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