How To Spend Your $2,000 Learning Stipend From Your Employer

learning stipend

Do you get a learning stipend from your employer? The learning stipend, also known as the education stipend or the professional development stipend, is a cash benefit for employees to spend on professional advancement. This can come in the form of courses, conferences, books and the like. With such a broad definition, it can be hard to know what’s eligible for reimbursement with these funds. If you’re looking for learning stipend ideas or just want to know how invest in your career, this article might be a good place to start. With so many questions, I thought it would be helpful to share how I spent my learning stipend of $2000 in 2022.

If you want a broader list of things you can buy with your professional development stipend, you’ve found the right website. Check out our article 12 Great Ways to Spend Your Professional Development Stipend.

Example of Learning Stipend, Reimbursement Amounts, and Eligible Expenses

For context, my company is a tech company that recently IPO’d. Many large companies or companies in the tech industry offer professional development stipends for their employees as a way to recruit top talent and retain top performing employees. Want to see what professional development benefit guidelines might look like or how much your company provides for a learning stipend? Here is an example of a learning stipend policy that you might see from your employer.

Professional Development Reimbursement Guidelines

At our company, learning never stops. We believe continuous improvement is fundamental to our vision. The professional development reimbursement is designed to support your career goals and help you develop as a professional. We are committed in supporting your continual professional growth by reimbursing
qualified professional development expenses. To be eligible for this benefit, you must have worked at the company for at least 30 days.

Reimbursement Amount

Please see the table below, which is updated on an annual basis, to see what the amount is in your appropriate currency. Those who were hired prior to the current year are eligible for the fullamount, as noted in the first column. Annual amounts are prorated quarterly based on start date, in your first year.

Note : Professional Development amounts not used by the end of the year will be forfeited andyour annual amount will refresh on Jan 1 of the next year. Qualified education expenses are not taxable per IRS Pub 970 and HMRC (U.K.)

QuarterU.S.Canada U.K. Norway SwedenEUROSingaporeAustralia
Jan – March (full amount)$2,000$2,600£1,50017,200 kr18,000 kr€1,650$2,700$2,750
Apr – Jun$1,500$1,950£1,12512,900 kr13,500 kr€1,230$2,025$2,060
Jul – Sep$1,000$1,300£7508,600 kr9,000 kr€825$1,350$1,375
Oct – Dec$500$650£3754,300 kr4,500 kr€410$675$680

Eligible Learning Expenses

Expenses should be relevant to employees’ current or future job and must have manager approval before purchase.

Eligible List

  • Conferences (& related travel expenses during the conference)
  • Training Programs
  • Professional membership fees
  • Tuition fees
  • Textbooks
  • Online courses
  • Relevant Tools/Software Licenses such as Adobe Illustrator (if it helps you develop a skill related to your job) Ineligible List

Ineligible Expenses

  • Conferences & related travel expenses requested by the Company
  • Language apps/courses, unless job related.
  • Electronic equipment such as computers and kindles

How to Spend My Learning Stipend?

There are hundreds of ways to spend your education stipend from your employer. These benefits range from $500-$3,000 a year, and it may be difficult to decide on something. Even if you make a six-figure salary, that is a lot of money to take advantage of. Read the next section to see how I spent my professional development stipend. You can also view our shop for a curated list of items to buy with your professional learning funds. Alternatively, read this guide if you’re looking for more context and want to be educated on what to buy with your learning stipend.

How I Spent My $2,000 Learning Stipend

The learning stipend example above is paraphrased from the benefit guidelines at my current company. I live in San Francisco, U.S.A, so I receive $2,000 to spend each year on expenses related to my current job. For context, I’m a data analyst working for a software company. These are the items that I got approved by my manager in the 1st week of 2022. I provide details of what I purchased, how I positioned it as a professional development expense, and how much I paid.

1. Udemy Personal Plan ($395.88)

Udemy Personal Plan for Learning Stipend
All-Access Personal Plan – Get it on Udemy

Udemy was the first thing I thought of when choosing what to buy with my professional development stipend. In particular, I was interested in their Personal Plan, a $29.99 monthly subscription that gives you access to 5,000+ top-grade courses across hundreds of topics. Without the pressure of having to choose a specific class or classes right away, I knew that the personal plan would allow me to sample as many courses as I’d like. You can try a 7-day free trial here. Udemy classes are great because they are “learn at your own pace” so you can learn whenever and wherever you like.

Reasons why Udemy products are an eligible professional development expense:

  • Udemy’s platform was designed for learning professional skills online
  • They cover topics relevant in the modern job market:
    • Web Development
    • Data Science
    • IT Certifications
    • Graphic Design & Illustration
    • Digital Marketing
    • Leadership
    • Communication
  • Popular classes have been taking by hundreds of thousands of people and reviewed countless times as a stamp of approval
  • Top companies use Udemy to upskill employees and retain top talent

Reasons I wanted the Udemy Personal Plan:

Ethereum Blockchain Developer Bootcamp With Solidity (2022) ($119.99 a la carte)

1. Masterclass Annual Subscription ($180)

A Masterclass subscription is another thing that I’m happy is eligible for reimbursement through my company’s learning stipend. With classes taught by experts in their respective professions, a Masterclass subscription is a true investment in your career and yourself. What I love is that you’ll not only get access to learning material that will provide value in your professional life and your personal life.

Reasons why MasterClass is an eligible professional development expense:

  • Just like Udemy, MasterClass is dedicated to online learning and personal development
  • Although MasterClass is more geared towards teaching life skills, there is plenty of content available through the all-access subscription that applies to professional growth
  • At $240 per year, most professional development stipends easily cover the full cost of this expense

Reasons why I wanted to buy Masterclass using my learning stipend:

3. Amazon Audible Subscription ($119.50)

Amazon Audible Professional Development
Amazon Audible Subscription – get it on Amazon

As an avid podcast and audiobook listener, I was excited to learn that my Amazon Audible Subscription was covered by my learning stipend. For $119.50 I bought 12 credits up front with a 1-year subscription. I could have even got 24 credits up front for $229.50. That’s 24 audiobooks essentially for free. Audible has almost any book you can imagine, from professional development content, to personal favorites. I love the fact that I can use my education stipend for things I would have paid for anyways.

Reasons why Amazon Audible is an eligible professional development expense:

  • Amazon Audible has hundreds of titles related to professional development from designing your career to teaching specific skills
  • If you like to learn through listening, Audible is a great way to absorb content related to growing your career while going about your daily life
  • Here is a list of audiobooks I will use to grow professionally:

Reasons I wanted Amazon Audible:

  • I love listening to audiobooks and podcasts while working, running, or just living daily life. It feels like I’m effectively multitasking
  • I already pay for an Amazon Audible subscription so the learning stipend just covers the cost
  • Here is a list of audiobooks I’m listening to for personal enjoyment:

4. EdX Professional Data Science Certificate from Harvard University ($792.80)

edx masters degrees
Professional Data Science Certificate from Harvard – Get it on EdX

As a data professional, I’m always looking to learn new skills and bolster my resume. That’s why I decided to spend a big chunk of my change on a dedicated course in a specific topic related to my job. EdX courses are extremely high quality and comparable to what you’ll find at College Universities (many are taught or affiliated with academic institutions). They offer professional certificates, MicroMaster’s and Graduate degrees that all hold strong weight on a resume. They are also completely online so you can learn whenever and wherever you’d like.

Reasons why EdX products are an eligible professional development expense:

  • EdX is full of high quality content for professional development for any career
  • You can receive true professional certificates and/or degrees from accredited institutions

Reasons I wanted a Professional Certificate from EdX:

  • I wanted a true in-depth learning experience in a topic related to my career
  • A professional certificate from EdX looks great on the resume

5. LinkedIn Premium Subscription ($239.88)

education stipend linkedin learning
LinkedIn Premium – Get it on LinkedIn

As the saying goes, “it’s who you know”. Linkedin is the world’s greatest networking tool for professionals. A LinkedIn premium subscription enhances your ability to connect with like-minded professionals around the globe. LinkedIn Premium also comes with unlimited access to LinkedIn Learning, another online learning tool with top-rated content across hundreds of professional topics.

Reasons why LinkedIn is an eligible professional development expense:

  • LinkedIn Learning is an ideal way to level up your skills professionally. 
  • Premium features allow you to more easily and effectively communicate with professionals in your field and grow your network

Reasons I wanted a LinkedIn Premium Subscription:

  • You get to see who views your profile
  • You get the gold Linkedin symbol next to your profile 🙂
  • Don’t tell my employer, but Linkedin Premium really comes in handy when looking for new jobs. You receive premium insights like expected salary range and company headcount growth

6. Lifetime Babbel Subscription ($199)

education stipend language learning babbel
Get 60% a lifetime subscription to Babbel here

A language learning tool? Yes! Now be sure to check with your manager before you try this one. I’ve always wanted to learn a new language like Japanese and heard that Babbel was a great place to start. Although this one isn’t really related to my current job, learning a new language will make you more marketable and may payoff if you’re working on a global team. It doesn’t hurt to try!

Reasons why Babbel is an eligible professional development expense:

  • Learning a new language allows you to communicate with a wider audience. This may be helpful for global teams or those who interact with others around the world
  • Speaking a different language may be a requirement for some jobs in different parts of the globe

Reasons I wanted a Babbel subscription:

  • Truthfully, I just wanted to learn a new language and would rather have my company pay for it than me!
  • For just $199 I get to use Babbel for life. Which means I could pass it down to my kids if you think about it.

7. Business Insider Subscription ($67)

Business Insider Logos

A content subscription to a news service in your domain is another great way to utilize your learning stipend. Stay on top of the latest trends in your niche and your career will thank you. This is another subscription that I would have paid for myself but don’t have to thanks to my company’s education benefit. As a member of a Business Intelligence team in tech, I use Business Insider to learn about successful businesses and their leaders. At $67 a year, this was less than 5% of my overall stipend

Reasons why a Business Insider is an eligible professional development expense:

  • Professionally speaking, continually learning about the business world around you is beneficial for any employee
  • Stay up to date on the latest business trends and technologies around the globe from a trusted source

Reasons I wanted a Business Insider Subscription:

  • I hate clicking on a Business Insider article and getting paywalled
  • I like reading the news but don’t like the idea of paying for a subscription
  • I enjoy Business Insider content and think that it will benefit me professionally and personally

Why You Need To Spend Your Learning Stipend From Your Employer

If your company is willing to give you thousands of dollars in the form of a professional development stipend, you should take it. As you can see, what’s eligible for reimbursement is a blurred line. You can get creative and put the money towards things you already buy in your personal life, or have always wanted but didn’t think it was worth it. 

The biggest complaint we see is that it takes a lot of effort to decide on what to buy, get it approved, and get reimbursed. To the first point, we hope that this article has helped you realize what is available to buy with your learning stipend. The last two points are easy. Just ask your manager, keep your receipts and submit the expenses. The money I spent on my credit card has already been reimbursed credited back into my bank account within a few weeks through Expensify.

More Professional Development Stipend Ideas

The list above is only a fraction of the eligible items you can buy with you learning stipend. Curious about what else you can buy? Take a look at our shop or read our guide on the Top 12 Ways to Spend Your Professional Development Stipend. Use it before you lose it!

Leave a Reply