Main image of article Does More Training Really Lead to Raises?

A recent Global Knowledge/Tech Republic Salary Survey, which finds a direct correlation between continuing training and salary increases, brings up an old and vexing question, especially for people who are contemplating spending thousands of dollars on education or certifications: does more training really have a direct and measurable impact on salaries? Yes, says this particular survey, which pegs the value of training as an 8.6 percent salary booster, a higher salary bump than four earlier annual surveys had ever shown. Eighty percent of respondents said they believe training increases their base salary, up from 74 percent in 2011 and 64 percent in 2010. Respondents who hold expertise in networking, communications, or servers and storage believed most strongly that training affects salary, while those in Web or application development weren’t quite as convinced. So is it true? IT professionals have to be avid information seekers because if they aren’t, they’ll quickly fall behind, but do experts agree that training translates directly and quickly into more money?

Not necessarily. Here’s a dissenting opinion: “I would be highly suspicious of any research that shows a direct correlation between continuing training and salary increases on a broad basis, but less suspicious if it was a correlation in a specific category of worker for a specific type of training,” says Ted Vass, an analyst at technology labor analysis firm Foote Partners. He tells Dice News:

Training will only increase pay rates if it is directed at areas where an employer has already decided it is willing to pay for selected skills, knowledge and experience; defined to whom it is willing to pay that premium—which typically involves much more than simply acquiring skills and knowledge via training but actually proving that you are capable of doing something they value with that training; and has clearly communicated to workers the if/then proposition. There has to be a measurable ROI process in place. It’s fairly rare for employers to meet all three criteria. That’s why there has been this long history of wasting huge sums on training with little demonstrable or measurable value.

Vass doubts that any survey can truly make the training/salary connection. “To show a direct correlation between continuing training and salary raises, you have to successfully isolate all the variables that contribute to pay increases so that you can look just at effect of training. I’ve never been able to successfully do that.” Vass does grant, however, that well-trained workers may accrue benefits outside of their actual salaries. “Our IT Skills and Certifications Pay Index has been making the clear case for 13 years that skills and certifications can get you higher pay, but it may not be in salary,” he says. “Often, the money is paid out as skills bonuses outside of the salary base that roll up with other variable pay into something called total cash compensation.”