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I work at a company that provides professional development expense reimbursement - like the cost of attending a conference, or books, etc.

I have already let my manager know that I'd like to use my portion for a training and certification program (Amazon Web Services certification). This knowledge will help me directly in my job now as well as augment my career prospects for the future. She has agreed this would be a good idea.

Other people generally use their budget for conferences, which they are then allowed to attend on work time without having to use their PTO.

My workload is generally pretty high, but I'd like to ask if I can start setting aside a few hours a week for the time it takes to review the materials and get certified. This would be an ongoing block of time each week.

Is this a normal request? Are employees more often expected to complete this sort of thing on their own time?

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You asked,

Is this a normal request? Are employees more often expected to complete this sort of thing on their own time?

It is certainly not a completely abnormal request, but ultimately, your employee's policies on professional development and PTO will determine your answer.

Some employers intend professional development reimbursement to be used for specific purposes, and often that implies an answer in terms of whether the time is paid or not. For instance, I once worked for an employer who reimbursed staff to take a short course in order to prepare them to pass a state licensing exam. The employer intended that employees would do that class and the certification on the clock.

However, an employer who intends for staff to use their reimbursement policy for something like earning a Master's degree in a field related to their employment would almost certainly expect staff to be taking the required classes, and doing the required homework, on their own time.

Can you get a copy of your employer's policies, or ask your manager or HR for guidance?

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Is this a normal request?

Yes, it's fairly normal. Even in an unhealthy company where the answer would always be "no", it seems unlikely that asking the question would cause offence (you will need to use your own judgement on that though, knowing your company better than I do).

Are employees more often expected to complete this sort of thing on their own time?

This varies. Employee professional development is a strange thing.

Having better staff is partly for the company's benefit, and the company should put time and money towards training. It also benefits the employee directly (perhaps including making it easier for them to find work elsewhere) and thus the employee should be putting their time and money towards it.

Some companies (the better ones) recognize the value of investing in their staff; others do not. Some employees recognize the benefits to their career of learning in their own time, without depending on their employer; others do not, or choose to prioritize something else over their career.

In any case: your company may decide that having reimbursed you for the financial cost of the training, you should put your own personal time into it. Or, they may agree that paying for the course would be worthless without also giving you time to complete it. We can't be sure until you ask; but you are entitled to ask the question. Just be prepared to find a reasonable compromise, and hope that your employer is prepared to do the same.

  • Any explanation for the downvotes? I can't see anything controversial here. – BittermanAndy Apr 12 at 9:10
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As a junior developer, I was asked to go on a course for aws (since like you it would be useful towards my job). I think it is reasonable to ask for training however you will have to put your own time in for studying for the exam.

However ask you manager as my excellent boss allowed me to take off time to attend the exam and half a day towards studying for the exam. If your boss is nice and you are hardworking, he might allow you to do it.

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