In the workplace safety training space there is a group of vendors that provide very similar online training products, however, pricing for these online training platforms can range from $2.00 – $25.00 per student, per course.  When the content, support, and technical capabilities are similar, one has to ask if you are getting what you pay for.  And, what is with the huge discrepancy in pricing?

Comparing Apples to Apples

First, it’s important that I clarify what group of online providers to which I’m referring.  Vendors may refer to everything that is delivered via the internet, from streaming video to highly interactive, robust training courses, “online training”.  There is a difference.  Streaming video is a video training program, the same as you would get via DVD, delivered via the internet.  It may or may not be tied to a learning management system (LMS).  Some streaming video programs do include quizzes to track learning gain. Online training courses, or e-learning courses, are internet based, self-led training courses which include interactivity and media such as video or animation.   Not all e-learning courses are created equal.   There are e-learning courses that aren’t much more than the CD-ROM based training of the 1990s, or “Digital PowerPoints” as I’ve heard them called.  These courses are text with pictures, possibly some video, and multiple choice or true or false questions.  Truly engaging online training courses include these five features:

  1. Text with full narration
  2. Multiple medias including video and animation
  3. Interactivity beyond Q&A, such as matching and scenario based selection
  4. Quality, technically accurate content
  5. Adult learning theory practices such as task-oriented learning versus memorization, application of why concepts are being learned, and self-directed learning

On a side note, adult learning theory is a whole other topic.  For more in-depth info about adult learning theory, this is a good place to start.

So, if we rule out streaming video training and “digital PowerPoint’ online training programs that still leaves a handful of vendors that offer quality online training with a huge discrepancy in pricing.  When you have the boxes checked on all five features of quality training, why do prices range from as low as $2 per student up to $25 per student…even when large versus small training volumes are taken into consideration?

New Cos in the Training Space

83253169We can’t ignore the vast changes in EH&S training company ownership in the last 10 years.  Three of the major players in quality EH&S training were purchased by either larger entities or private equity groups.  Good, bad, or indifferent, a change in ownership of that scale has an impact on the goals and direction of the business.  Privately held, small, or even family owned businesses have more flexibility in their approach, from content development to pricing.  Large organizations, publicly traded organizations or those owned by private equity typically have to answer to shareholders or other entities which will directly affect pricing.

In these cases, pricing may be dictated by a need to meet required sales projections or satisfy the goals set by a board of directors or group outside the direct leadership of the company.  You may be paying higher prices to satisfy these needs. As long as customers continue to pay the higher prices for the same training they can find elsewhere, vendors can justify the higher prices.  Also, vendors that are not in full control of their destiny will have a difficult time lowering prices unless the market dictates it.

What Are You Paying for?

It may be time to take a second look at your training vendor and make sure you can’t get the same quality training and customer service, or perhaps even better, from a different source at an improved cost.

There may be one or two advantages from one vendor over the other that can help you to justify the price.  But in reality, there are only a few online training vendors that can provide you a quality product and excellent service for half the price of the others.  Make sure that you are getting all that you can for what you pay, and that you’re not paying to line the pocket of investors.

Evolved Safety works with you to select your EH&S training content and delivery options from a number of best-in-class safety training providers.  We streamline the process for you, removing the burden of contacting multiple vendors and acquiring multiple bids.  Contact us at or call us toll-free at 888.528.4486.