Investing in employees’ IT certs is less expensive than hiring certified pros
Employing certified IT professionals is a must for many companies. Many of your customers and potential customers will only work with certified professionals. Having a team with certified skills typically increases productivity and efficiency, enhances a company’s culture and reputation, and creates a built-in IT training department.
The question for many firms is whether it’s more advantageous to hire professionals who already possess certain certifications or entice existing employees to attain credentials in certain disciplines. In nearly every circumstance, it’s easier, less costly and more beneficial to provide existing employees with professional development opportunities and help them maintain their certifications.
The cost of providing certification assistance to existing employees will almost always be more cost effective than hiring IT professionals with those designations. The typical cost for many IT certifications is $1,000, which includes the study materials and exam.
If you factor in just the cost of adding and hiring a new employee (not replacing), the costs can be as high as 50 percent of that person’s salary. That includes the costs of recruiting, signing bonuses, moving expenses, and training.
If you’re replacing an IT worker, the cost can be 90 percent to 200 percent of the professional’s salary. The additional costs include lost productivity, lost knowledge, delayed projects and overtime expenses due to being shorthanded.
Below are the average salaries of several common IT designations:
- Certified Information Security Manager: $118,000.
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional: $110,000
- Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer: $96,000
- Certified Ethical Hacker: $95,000
- VMware Certified Professional – Data Center Virtualization: $94,000
That means replacing a member of your IT staff with a certified professional can cost between $90,000 and $200,000 or more versus $1,000 to maybe $5,000 to help a current employee achieve a certification. Even if you encourage existing employees to achieve a certification by offering a bonus — in addition to paying for the certification fees — you’re still coming out way ahead than finding an outsider with existing credentials.
In addition, investing in your current workers is a cost-effective way to reduce turnover. Dedicated IT professionals want to build their skills to contribute more to their employers and advance their careers. By helping them pay for their certifications, you are communicating to employees that they are valuable and that there are opportunities for advancement. This will potentially strengthen their loyalty to the company. Even if you lose a few employees after investing in their education, the ones you maintain and the reputation you garner will prove beneficial in the long run.
Maybe you’re thinking that if you bring in new employees with existing credentials, you can reduce your training costs. This is not necessarily true. Your current IT employees know your company and industry better than newcomers will. Nearly every industry has standards and regulations specific to their IT operations.
For example, companies in the medical field have HIPAA regulations that affect their IT workforce. Energy firms must comply with Critical Infrastructure Protection standards design to protect the nation’s electric grids. And any company that accepts credit card payments has to adhere to Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS).
Maintaining compliance on these and other industry specific regulations requires specific IT knowledge that would require extensive training if bringing in new professionals without these industry backgrounds.
The low supply and high demand for IT workers means the cost of hiring and replacing them will continue to get more expensive. It’s far more cost effective for firms to retain as many of their current IT staff as possible. One of the best ways to accomplish this while expanding the knowledge and skills of your IT department is to invest in your employees’ IT certifications.
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