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7:01 pm
December 1, 2004
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Professional Development—Does It Pay?

Let’s face it; professional development is hard work. It requires a good bit of time to explore and determine just what form of professional development one will participate in. It then requires significant investment of time and money to pursue and complete the various professional development activities. As prudent stewards and investors (even if the company does pay tuition reimbursement), we need to consider if that expenditure of time and money is a good investment. I do think it is a sound investment if done wisely and well. Let’s look at this from three different points of experience.

SMRPCO (or certification) experience. As a member of the SMRP Certifying Organization board, I have been able to watch the impact that earning the CMRP status has had on several individuals and their companies. Some companies have implemented a policy of an automatic salary increase for those passing the exam. Others have provided public recognition and praise.

I believe it is fair to say that almost all companies have at least recognized the importance of the achievement for those individuals who have studied and worked to improve their skills and knowledge by becoming CMRPs. Has it made a difference in payback on their individual investment? I think so, if not immediately, certainly in the longer term. Whether in personal satisfaction, peer recognition, salary, or some combination of the three, I think almost every CMRP would tell you that it was well worth the effort.

Graduate studies experience. As a coordinator for our distance education (or off campus) Graduate Program in Maintenance Management and Reliability Engineering, I have seen a number of industry professionals earning degrees, or certificates, or simply participating in courses to further their education.

Most of these individuals report increased respect and recognition—and often, salary increases and new job opportunities due to their development endeavors. They continue with the program until they reach whichever goal they have set for themselves. Are they receiving the return on their investment? I think so, or they wouldn’t stay with the program. Here is what some of them say:

“I am sure that my participation in this course was a deciding factor in winning the job, and the knowledge I am continuing to gain will be more and more valuable.” (promoted to asset manager)

“The Graduate Certificate was instrumental in helping me win the job of production supervisor at a new gas plant. A great opportunity for further advancement, apart from about $40K increase in salary.” (promoted to supervisor)

College student experience. I have recently been reviewing our UT undergraduate intern reports from the recent summer as well as some feedback from two of our recent graduates from our maintenance and reliability engineering program. I think these excerpts tell the story better than I can:

“The extra specialization really helped when it came time to find a job during my senior year. When recruiters saw that I chose to deepen my knowledge in one particular area, they became more interested, and it oftentimes led to a second interview. Both at work and during the interviewing process, most of the engineers were surprised to see that I was familiar with various maintenance technologies.” maintenance engineer, May 2004 graduate

“Now that I have moved on to graduate school, my Maintenance and Reliability Certification impresses professors who thought I was just another face on campus. My research project focuses on diagnostic and prognostic analysis for condition-based maintenance for space shuttles. I believe that had I not gone through the MRC certification program, the opportunity to work with the manufacturing department at Georgia Tech would have been greatly reduced.” graduate student, May 2004 graduate

A Good Investment? So, does professional development pay? The answer is generally a resounding “yes” at all levels from seasoned veteran to university student. Certainly increased salary is a positive return. Promotion and/or new jobs also are normally considered great return on investment.

Perhaps a review of the annual salary survey in this issue of MT will further strengthen your thoughts and observations about whether professional development provides a good return on the investment. Check it out—and then consider making your own investment. MT

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