Financing Your Professional Education in Cybersecurity and IT
For many of us, the learning process doesn’t end with a diploma, but instead is a continuous life journey. Thanks to evolving technology, a fluctuating job market and the general pursuit of happiness, there are always new skills and valuable knowledge to attain to stay sharp and competitive in one’s career.
Across many fields – and particularly technology and security – industry certifications are a great compliment to college degrees. Whether you’re just breaking into the industry, working towards a promotion, or exploring a career change, training can still be expensive and difficult to budget for. Here are a couple of ways to finance your training and get you started on your path to success.
A 2017 World at Work survey found that 92% of organizations offer some form of tuition assistance. In our conversations with employers working with CyberVista, the annual allowances for these programs generally span from $2,000/year up to as much as $10,000/year. While a great offer to employees, tuition-assistance programs, as the name implies are designed for college tuition. This means that a general requirement under most tuition assistance programs is that the employee is receiving college credit for the training course. Great news – many training organizations, including CyberVista, have programs in place to facilitate the earning of college credit to be able to leverage tuition-assistance benefits for industry certification training.
Easier than that, many organizations take the extra step to recognize the benefits of training and support their employees to pursue additional credentials by providing dedicated training budgets, allowances, or reimbursement programs at the department or individual benefits level.
For example, a major cybersecurity employer provides each employee with an annual training budget of $2,500 that can be used towards the training of their choice or applied toward tuition. This benefit extends beyond a $3,000 annual tuition-assistance benefit and does not require college credit upon completion of the training. The available training balance resets at the start of the next fiscal year and any unused funds disappear at the end of the year. Additionally, when you hit certain tenure milestones, your limit increases.
The requirements around using training benefits vary slightly by company, but generally these three rules apply:
- Employees must submit a request to a supervisor to be approved for the spend that details the nature of the course and all costs.
- The training must be relevant with the employee’s current roles and responsibilities or fall under a requirement to stay up-to-date in one’s area of work.
- Employees must show some sort of certification of completion and proof of purchase in order to keep the advance payment or to receive a reimbursement.
If you are unsure if your employer offers either a tuition-assistance or training benefits, please be sure to contact your supervisor or HR representative in order to take advantage of these types of programs.
Unfortunately, not all companies offer these types of programs or the context for a certain employee may disqualify them from using the benefits from a certification course. Likewise, some individuals are changing careers or entering the workforce for the first time and thus are not able to leverage employer sponsored training.
Fear not, another popular option for individuals without employer funding is to secure a personal loan. At CyberVista, we work directly with Skills Fund. For individuals in need of financing and eager to start training quickly, Skills Fund offers a quick and simple application process that delivers a decision within minutes.
Unlike other types of personal loans, Skills Fund offers low and upfront interest rates to students so that you can plan your monthly payments without receiving surprise increases. And if you come into a windfall of money from that new job you just landed, there’s no penalty for paying off the balance early (pre-payment penalty).
Personal loans are useful in a number of situations: Maybe you have enough money to cover the course, but don’t want to wipe out your savings. Perhaps you’re expecting a bonus but want to lock in a current promotional offer or course start date. Or you’re looking for an opportunity to build your credit profile with small, on-time payments. These are common scenarios from many of our students and just a small example of how Skills Fund can ease your financial commitment so that you can focus on earning your certification.
Some training providers, including CyberVista, offer flexible payment options and will allow you to pay in installments during the length of your course. This is another nice option for individuals who don’t want to deplete their savings in one fell swoop, but would rather spread their payments out over a couple of months and multiple pay periods. Unlike the financing option, this does not require an actual credit check or any interest payment, but the monthly totals are much larger.
Take the Leap
Don’t let cost hold you back from earning a certification and moving forward in your career. Whether you can pay out of pocket, take advantage of employer programs, or finance around your budget, the return from earning your certifications will appear as dividends throughout your career and create future opportunities. If you’re considering training with CyberVista and need help determining which financing option is right for you, contact one of our helpful student advisors to discuss the options available to help you meet your career goals.