Do you want to learn new technical skills but aren’t sure how to pay for a coding bootcamp? Want to explore whether your employer may be able to help fund your coding bootcamp, and potentially even hire you for a technical role? We’ve partnered with Learn In to create a comprehensive guide with all the information you need to have a smart conversation with your employer about your interest in building a career in tech. If you want to learn more about how Learn In can help you find the time and money to learn new skills while working, drop your email at Learn In or have a member of your HR team reach out.
Step 1: Check your benefits!
If you’re working for a large firm, chances are they already have some sort of tuition assistance program in place. According to a survey from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP), 92% of U.S. employers offer tuition reimbursement as part of their benefits package, though few employees typically take advantage of this benefit.
Even if there isn’t a publicized program, don’t give up hope. Ask around to see if any of your coworkers have received educational assistance, and check in with your HR department. Many companies have a budget for learning and professional development. Resources that may have historically gone to cover travel for industry conferences could now be used for continuing education online.
Employers may offer education benefits in a few different ways; the most common are tuition reimbursement, tuition assistance and employer-sponsored scholarships.
- Tuition Reimbursement: The way tuition reimbursement typically works is that you pay the upfront cost of tuition, and your employer reimburses you. Heads up: some employers only reimburse upon program completion!
- Tuition Assistance: With tuition assistance, employers may offer economic support upfront, thus helping employees for whom the upfront cost is a significant hurdle to upskilling.
- Employer-Sponsored Scholarships: While tuition reimbursement and tuition assistance tend to be widely available across the firm, employer-sponsored scholarships may only be available to select subsets of employees based on categories such as job functions and the need for a particular skill.
Step 2: Choose the right program for both you and your employer
The COVID-19 pandemic is fast-tracking digital transformations in companies as they try to become more resilient to disruption. In order to do so, companies need employees that can keep themselves up to date with the rise of new technologies. Because technical skills are in increasingly high demand, it’s crucial to research which coding bootcamps or programs best match your employer’s technical needs.
Depending on your industry of work, certain technical skills, such as data science or software engineering, may be in higher demand than others. Here are some of our suggestions on how to figure out what skills might benefit your company:
- Check out your company’s job postings to see if they are actively recruiting for certain technical roles
- Research adjacent skills–look at the work being done by the people around you. What skills are essential to the work done by your manager or your colleagues?
- Research transferable skills: what are some general skills that can be transferred between jobs, departments and industries? These can range from engineering or cybersecurity to analytics or design.
Step 3: Review the advantages of offering tuition assistance with your employer
If your employer does not yet offer tuition assistance, you can bolster your pitch for why they should invest in your education by bringing up the advantages of offering tuition assistance:
Employee retention. A major reason why companies offer tuition assistance benefits is that they help attract and retain talent. Studies by Lumina Foundation found that offering tuition assistance programs (TAP) can cut attrition by more than half for entry-level employees. This is also why some programs require employees to stay on the job for a certain period of time in order to qualify for reimbursement.
Tax incentives. Section 127 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) allows for an employer to pay up to $5,250 in educational assistance benefits per employee each year on a nontaxable basis, which means that educational investments of up to $5,250 are both tax deductible for the employer, and tax free to the employee. Educational assistance programs can cover everything from degree programs from universities to non-degree programs such as coding bootcamps. These tax benefits apply regardless of whether the courses taken are related to your current job responsibilities, which means they can be used for career switchers. Something to keep in mind is that, for the tax benefits to hold, the educational assistance benefits must be available to all employees working at the firm.
Step 4: Help your employer find the money
Showing to your employer that you’re willing to put in the extra effort of applying to scholarship programs will help signal your commitment to upskilling. Here are a few areas we recommend exploring, and check out other blog posts by Career Karma for more comprehensive lists of the best coding bootcamp scholarships.
- If you are a veteran, you may qualify for funding under the GI Bill.
- If you identify as a woman or member of another group typically underrepresented in tech, you may qualify for certain scholarship opportunities.
- Check if your state offers skills development scholarships. Certain states, such as Texas, have a skills development fund that can help cover some of your boot camp costs.
Additionally, your employer may be interested in starting their own Income Share Agreement (ISA) program as a way to expand their tuition assistance budgets. An ISA is an alternative to a traditional loan wherein you receive funding for your education upfront and, depending on the terms, pay it back with a portion of your salary once you start earning above a certain threshold after graduating from the program.
Finally, if your employer wants to upskill several employees, they may benefit from an upskilling-as-a-service platform. Learn In’s software can supercharge a company’s upskilling initiatives by helping them track employee’s progress within bootcamps, measure the return on the investment, and allocate time and money to learning.
Step 5: Read the fine print
Finally, we recommend you really dig into the fine print of your company’s tuition assistance offering. In order to qualify for certain tuition assistance programs, you may have to spend a certain amount of time working for your employer, either before or after the program. Make sure you meet those requirements! Many education contracts ask you to commit to stay with the company for a certain period of time, usually anywhere from six months to two years, but it varies by company.
Also, make sure you are clear regarding completion requirements. If, due to unforeseen circumstances, you are unable to finish the bootcamp, will you be forced to repay any tuition that has already been reimbursed? Finally, make sure you clarify whether your company can help you pay for the program upfront upon enrollment versus afterwards upon completion.
To sum up, there are many reasons why your employer may want to sponsor your coding bootcamp, and we hope this guide helped prepare you for that conversation to pitch your upskilling!