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Advice / Career Paths / Training & Development

This Is How You Ask Your Boss for Professional Development Budget

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Natalie Faye/Getty Images

You somehow missed the class on navigating Excel spreadsheets. You don’t know how to read HTML. You don’t have the first clue how to fix or even size a photo in Photoshop. While not integral to your daily role, these things keep popping up, and you groan inwardly every time they do.

You see, you really should know the basics of creating a PowerPoint presentation by this point. You ought to have a handle on spreadsheet formulas by now. You can’t keep relying on your co-worker to do it for you—how many favors do you owe him at this point?

If you feel you’re missing a key skill that’s bound to help you on your chosen career path, or at least not hold you back from getting ahead and kicking butt at work, you need to fill in the gap.

If you’re certain that a conference or class will motivate you like nothing else, but, well, you don’t exactly have any extra money in the bank to pay for it, why not ask your boss if there’s money for professional development. (Provided of course, you’ve ruled out the option of finding one for free).

The only caveat: Be careful not to pursue a skill that you should already know how to do. Growing into and beyond your role is one thing. Demonstrating that you don’t know what you were essentially hired to do is another kind of conversation altogether.

Assuming that’s not the case, here are two different email templates, depending on what kind of company you work at:

If Your Company Has a Professional Development Budget

Hi [Name of Boss],

That was a great and insightful team meeting we had last week. In fact, your follow-up email about the future of our product as far as our team is concerned got me thinking that I’d really like to have a better, stronger sense of industry trends.

I came across this speaking event [link to the event], and there are still some tickets left! Based on the description, I think it would be an excellent out-of-office learning opportunity, and I’m confident I’d come back with [item you’re hoping to learn/gain from attending event].

Please let me know if there’s budget available for me to attend. If we can’t cover the entire thing, but I can be reimbursed for part of it, that might work. Keep me posted! Thanks so much.

[Your Name]

If You’re Not Sure if There’s a Budget

Hi [Name of Boss],

I’m so pleased that the team has taken an interest in enhancing the design and feel of our marketing materials with limited professional design help. I’ve never been much of an artist, but I have to admit I’m enjoying the free software tools we’ve been introduced to this quarter.

I do, however, think that I could really up my creative skill set and work faster if I took a related course. I looked up a few options and here’s what I found: [include links to courses you’d be interested in pursuing].

We’ve never discussed whether or not there’s team budget for this, so I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but the price point is a bit out of my personal reach. If there’s a way for me to enroll in the course and be reimbursed for the professional development, I would love that. I’d be eager to share my learnings with the group as well!

I completely understand if we don’t have the resources for this at this time; will you please let me know if anything changes?

[Your Name]

The idea with these inquiries is that it doesn’t hurt to ask. At the very least, you demonstrate to your manager that you care about your job and you’re interested in what ways you can further excel in it.

After all, you’re not demanding reimbursement. You’re not refusing to do your job unless. You’re simply drafting an email and starting a dialogue. The worst that can happen is that your boss turns you down because the budget simply isn’t available.

But the best? You get a yes and start getting even further ahead.