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I work as a programmer for a mid-sized company (about 500 employees) in the medical industry. Before that I worked at a custom software development/consulting company. At both companies programmers were never officially given time to continue their education through taking classes, reading books or blogs, or doing research relevant to the job. At the software development company we were offered some money to pay for a class, but not offered any time off of work to take the class.

I have been wondering, do most employers of programmers give time off of work to take a class, read a book, or do job related research? By time off of work I just mean some period of time where you can stop development; it does not have to mean leaving the office. I would be grateful to hear about everyone's experience with this.

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3 Answers 3

I have been wondering, do most employers of programmers give time off of work to take a class, read a book, or do job related research?

No. I've seen some specific managers offer some leeway to exceptional employees to take Friday afternoons off for class for example, but as a general policy it's unheard-of.

The closest you might find is Google's "one day a week for your own pet project" policy (though I'm not familiar how that policy has weathered under Google's growth).

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My guess is that most companies do not, but there are companies that do (I know this because I work for one).

In my company's case, each employee has a budgeted training/education/personal improvement amount for the year (about $1,500). We decide how we want to spend this money (courses, books, conferences, exams, non-billable time off, etc) and if it makes sense to the business then it's approved. The amount isn't necessarily fixed either, and if it's for something that would be a good investment for the company, more money may be allocated.

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Yeah, almost all companies offer money, but not time for training. I thought that the OP pointed that out. –  Telastyn Jun 13 '12 at 0:30
@Telastyn - but in this case it sounds like the money can be used to buy time off. That sounds like a really cool policy. –  weronika Jun 13 '12 at 6:32
Yes, we account for time as well. For example, this year I am focusing on updating my certifications. I bought some books and the exams are $150 each. I'll be well under the $1,500, but the key is that I can block off time during my workday to prepare. –  shufler Jun 13 '12 at 15:36

My employer will sometimes organize for developers to attend training courses, and other such educational things on an as-needed basis (for example, our codebase has a lot of C++ so new developers may get sent on a C++ course).

Anecdotally, other mid-large size companies (say 10 or more developers) seem to do this kind of thing also, BUT, I've never personally heard of any companies that just give developers "free time" to do their own learning.

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