What things do I need to consider when taking an accredited course through work?

My employer is offering me the opportunity to take an accredited course that they will pay for. I would love to take this opportunity. I have found an ideal course(ie. a course that will improve my knowledge and benefit my career at the company) that is being taught online and discussed the course with my manager who approves of the course but need to complete the application process.

HR mentioned that there is a stipulation to taking the course in terms of length of service. Does anyone have experience of this? I will obviously talk to my employer but I am wondering do people have experience of this stipulation and what where some/all of the terms?

I feel that taking this course would give me a great foundation to negotiate working form home on days that I have online classes. This would not have to be compulsory but just a more flexible arrangement than I have currently. I have a total of a 1h 30m commute so this would ease the inevitable pressure of working and studying. Does anyone have experience of this? How did you approach it and were you successful. The company I work for allow working from home infrequently(I am a software developer) but it is not in the culture fully yet.

How much of a boost will I have in my next salary/performance review etc.? Should I consider taking a salary review before starting any course? Are companies more likely to not want to give me a raise as they know I am, for want of a better word, stuck at the company under the length of service stipulation?

Is the employer required to purchase any books I may need?

Is the course paid for upfront by myself?

Any other information that you may have learned during a similar experience would be great.

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    I believe that if you leave the company before an agreed period of time, they will ask you to pay for it yourself. – Иво Недев Sep 9 '16 at 8:23
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    "What can I expect?" Ask them. Standard is for the employee to have to agree to repay a course if he leaves within X months/years, but the particulars vary by company. VTC company-specific / career advice. – Lilienthal Sep 9 '16 at 8:54
  • This is indeed common; it is often in your work contract when you start the job. – user8036 Sep 9 '16 at 11:32
  • @JoeStrazzere No, I would just have more time to study (I also mentioned my commute duration). I am currently taking my course and this arrangement did not come to fruition. – atw Apr 25 '17 at 10:45

I can only share my experience from working for a company in Europe.

I did a course what would benefit my work, because we were working for a specific sector I didn't know that much about (yet). The course took 6 months and was mostly self-study in my own time. The company paid the course and the exam.

In my contract (which I signed when starting the job) was stated the following:

  • Leaving the company in 0-6 months after finishing the course, I'd have to pay back 75% of the tuition fee.
  • Leaving the company in 6-12 months after finishing the course, I'd have to pay back 25%.
  • If the company would be the party ending/not extending the contract, I wouldn't have to pay back the fee.
  • Completing this course resulted in a salary increase of 8%.

Hope this helps! But of course it depends on the company and the course. I can imagine some studies will bind you to the company for a year or more.

One of my friends started doing a job as a technical application tester (junior function). He got extended masterclasses in different kinds of testing, but had to sign a contract to keep working for the company for at least 3 years.

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  • Great to know about there possibly being a break down for different periods of time. I would hopefully not want to leave but its good to know that may be the case. Thanks – atw Sep 10 '16 at 10:27
  • Also, did you have to pay for your course up front? – atw Sep 12 '16 at 10:01
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    The company paid the course (and they paid it upfront of course), but I didn't have to pay anything myself. – Luchadora Sep 13 '16 at 7:19

I work in the US - first as a Project Manager for a private military corporation/defense contractor, and now as a Program Manager with an Insurance Firm and both had a policy stipulation in place as you alluded to. In my case I had to pay for tests out of pocket, pass the test/exam/assessment and I would be reimbursed - that was the same for both companies.

For the Insurance company I am with now, since I am in the IT Shop, they would pay me a bonus for completing it on top of the reimbursement, for instance they pay out $1500 for a CISSP (almost triple what the registration is), $500 for a PMP, etc.

For either Company, if I left before 6 months I would have to repay the reimbursement fee. For my current Company I can't leave until a year otherwise I would have to pay back the bonus as well - so in my case that CISSP would end up costing a little over $2000 if I left before 6 months.

A quick side track - working in the Gov't sector, any of our contractors that would take advantage of the Program typically got that 6 months added to their contract, which isn't a bad gig depending what your job was and if you deployed, but that is something to be wary of as a regular contracted employee - they can just extend your contract with no promise of a raise/promotion despite a cert/course.

I would weigh the pros and cons yourself, you get a certification/course for free which adds to your skills, credibility (this greatly depends and is subjective), and may or may not increase earning potential in the future. However, would you be happy with being stuck at your job for another 6 months to a year? Would you be okay with extra responsibility you may get? Would you be okay with maybe not getting a raise/promotion from in for a while?

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  • Thanks, why would you not get a raise or promotion for a while, is it because you are required to work a certain period of time that they will refuse any salary review because they know that you are less likely to leave? Again, I do not want to leave btw. – atw Sep 10 '16 at 10:29

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