Training your staff makes sure they’re prepared for the job at hand and it reduces turnover by creating happier employees. Companies that invest in their employees through training and education make their staff feel important and valuable. Finding the budget for training can be a challenge. Training budgets can be the first hit during budget reduction efforts. But, there are ways to invest in your employees that are cost effective as well.

For IT staff, in particular, it’s essential that they earn and maintain certifications. Depending on the certification, costs can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Industry conferences can also provide great learning opportunities but also include travel costs. For these more expensive courses and events, it may make sense to find a compromise to share the cost burden.

What Training Does Your Staff Need?

Before you sign up for expensive conferences and foot the bill for certifications, you figure out your staff’s educational needs. You may want to meet with each employee to create a training and education program tailored to them and their career goals. Or you may send out an email survey to gauge what the majority feel would be most beneficial. You may also want to look at areas of weak performance to identify gaps in training or education.

Calculating Your Budget

There are different ways you can calculate your training budget; create individual training plans, calculate based on total salary, or calculate based on the number of employees.

Individual training plans may help you be more specific in your training goals for each member of your staff. But this may not be practical for larger companies. If you can take the time to meet with each employee, you can create a training plan tailored to their career goals and training needs. This is a surefire way to ensure your staff feels valued.

Using total salary across the business is an easier way to calculate your training budget but does not account for individual needs. Between 1-5% of salary is a good gauge for training budgets. This will vary according to the size of your business and staff. By correlating your training costs to salary costs, you can prevent overspending. You also have the flexibility to provide training to areas of the company that need it the most, since the budget isn’t tied to specific teams.

Calculating your training budget according to the number of employees ties a dollar amount to each member of your staff. This can ensure that every employee has training available to them. This can be more accurate than calculating by salary as long as your headcount is relatively stable. However, this doesn’t take into account the level of training that each individual may need or want. For example, you may want to invest more in training for new hires than for experienced staff.

In addition to the cost of training specific employees, there are overhead training costs, such as:

  • Salaries of in-house training staff
  • Fees for consulting instructors or certification training and exams
  • Classroom or training tools and equipment, such as test servers and virtual machines
  • Technology, such as a Learning Management System (LMS) or course authoring software
  • Travel expenses and conference costs

Take Advantage of In-house Knowledge

You may have a vast amount of accumulated knowledge in-house. Experienced employees or those with unique skills can be tapped to share their knowledge. This type of knowledge transfer can be especially helpful to avoid losing knowledge when staff retire or leave the company. If you can only afford to send key staff to conferences, make sure they present what they learn to the rest of the team.

Ways for employees to share knowledge:

  • Lunch & Learn sessions
  • Presentations
  • Training documentation
  • Wikis

In addition to creating training materials and presentations, knowledgeable staff can mentor existing staff or new employees. Mentorship programs have become a popular way to transfer technical knowledge, leadership skills, and the soft skills required for success. Mentorships are cost-effective and create camaraderie within the business.

Certification Costs

Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE)

Those with a CCIE certification have superior network engineering skills, can manage and operate large, complex networks, and develop creative solutions to complex networking problems across a broad range of circumstances and technologies. Many need more than one attempt to pass this stringent certification process.

Certification cost: This certification consists of both a written exam and a lab exam. The written exam costs $450 and the lab exam costs $1600 per attempt, plus travel costs.

Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)

CCNA holders perform essential tasks such as installation, configuration, operation, troubleshooting, connection verification to remote sites, security risk mitigation, and performance enhancement. They should also be familiar with technologies such as access control lists (ACLs), VLANs and various routing protocols.

Certification cost: Most CCNA exams cost between $300 to $325. The ICND1 and ICND2 exams each cost $165. Practice tests are also available, ranging from $119 to $149. Cisco also offers an annual Routing and Certification pass for $319.

Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)

The MCSE is available in a variety of subjects. It’s designed to meet the requirements for Microsoft professionals in today’s ever-changing technology environment. MCSE certification holders can solve difficult problems needing innovative resolutions, design systems, and complex solutions, build and deploy, and operate, maintain, and optimize Microsoft-based systems.

Certification cost: Most Microsoft exams cost $165 each.

Project Management Professional (PMP)

PMP credential holders can manage the phases of a project; including initiating, planning and budgeting, scheduling, controlling, monitoring, closing the project and can manage all aspects of the triple constraints; time, cost, and scope.

Certification cost: Exam costs differ for PMI members versus non-members. The member exam costs $405 and the non-member exam costs $555. The exams can be retaken for $275 (member) or $375 (non-member).

Investing in IT training is the fastest way to grow an effective team. The proper training can nurture and help to develop skills within your team that they otherwise wouldn’t possess.  Use our blog for more tips on growing and improving your IT company and general insights into the IT industry.