1. Are they a Government Registered Training Organisation?
VET qualifications such as RSA (SITHFAB201 – Provide Responsible Service of Alcohol), RSG (SITHGAM201 – Provide Responsible Gambling Services) & the Construction White Card (CPCCOHS1001A – Work Safely in the Construction Industry) must be attained through a Registered Training Organisation (RTO). These organisations are accredited by, and regularly audited by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), which is a branch of the Federal Government.
- Try to find an “RTO number” on the website. This is a 5 character number.
- Look for the “Nationally Recognised Training” logo.
- Look for their company details such as their ABN. Are they listed on the site?
- Are they using a proper education or government domain name? e.g. www.something.edu.au
- Go to www.training.gov.au– and search for the company:
- Does it list their website?
- Does it list the main trading name they are using?
- If there are any discrepancies find a safer option
- For reference have a look at our record on training.gov.au here. Note that the details listed are the same as on our website. If we said we were “Express Online Training – RTO: 40592”, but also called ourselves “RSA Quick” and used the website “www.rsaquick.com”, but had neither of these listed on the government website it is suspicious. http://training.gov.au/Organisation/Details/18172999-153c-4c16-825d-2156051e5464
2. Do they make you pay up-front?
There is nothing inherently wrong with a training organisation asking for payment up-front, especially with long courses and full qualifications which can take months and many resources until you complete your studies. However, for short courses such as the RSA, RSG and White Card it does not make sense to pay up front.
In some cases students pay up-front and then find themselves in an awkward position because:
- They do not pass the course
- The website does not release the qualification fast enough
- They do not receive the correct qualification
- There can be extra costs at the end
- They have become locked out of the course and cannot get back in
- They have later to provide identification that they either do not have, or are uncomfortable providing
“Money Back Guarantees” are sometimes offered, but it is always best to have the money in your pocket so that you don’t have to fight to get back what is yours when the time comes.
Find a training provider who provides “Pay Later”, or “Pay When You Pass” options. Make sure to read the fine print in their terms and conditions to make sure that you will have access to all the training material, that you are not committing to pay by doing the training, and that there is a commitment by the RTO to assist you until you pass.
3. Do their prices seem too good to be true?
“You get what you pay for”. As mentioned above, there are some dodgy training options out there. If you come across a site which is offering a price which is significantly below the average price for that certificate you have a right to be suspicious.
You could risk it. If it is cheap enough you might not mind the chance of losing some time or some money. Otherwise make sure to read all the fine print and do your due diligence in making sure that the website is run directly by an RTO (see above).
Update: We are now offering a service where we will beat any legitimate price by 10% (Now you don ‘t have to risk it!). Click here for details…
4. Will they let you fail the course?
You have paid at the start of the course and got half way through. You get a question wrong two or three times and the website stops you from continuing. Will they unlock it for you? Do you have to start again? Do you have to pay again? Will they even answer their phones?
However, some sites say things like “No-fail course” or “100% pass rate” or “Guaranteed Pass”. If they do say this you will need to find out exactly what they mean. This is against the VET training standards and is trademark of the type of training website which appears and quickly gets shut down.
The training provider should make a commitment to you that they have qualified trainers who will work with you via phone or email if you have any problems and make sure that you learn what you need to learn and eventually pass the course.
5. Can they provide you with your qualification quickly?
Every training website produces their Certificates and Statements of Attainment in different ways. This can have a bigger impact on you than you might imagine. For example, many websites will manually produce their certificates (even the PDF downloads). This means that once you have completed the course and made payment you might still find yourself waiting for someone to get you your certificate – Sometimes for hours, but sometimes for days or even weeks.
Any site which cannot provide you with an automatic and “instant PDF download” cannot legitimately claim to give you an accurate timeframe for receiving your certificate. If you complete your course in the evening or on the weekend you will probably have to wait.
Make sure that the training website offers “instant PDF download” for your certificate (only valid for RSA & RSG – for the White card you can download the statement of attainment, but the card is posted physically).
Also, make sure that there is not an extended identification process to go through before receiving your certificate (see below).
6. Do they ask you for physical identification?
Many RTOs will ask you to provide physical identification before they will provide you with a certificate. For a few qualifications this is actually required (such as the White Card & NSW RSA), but for many it is not.
RTOs are required to make a reasonable effort to ensure that the person who is receiving the qualification was the sole contributor to the work during the training & assessment. Most of them will ask for you to physically send a Statutory Declaration (signed by a witness and a Justice of the Peace), as well as a certified copy of some photo ID. They will then approve your certificate and send it to you. This process takes a least a couple of business days and is a real hassle.
There are other ways for RTOs to handle this identification process, but they usually avoid them because they are costly for the RTO.
Make sure to read the identification process for the course you are doing. If you can, find a training provider who uses an online automated identification checking solution.
7. Do they provide qualified local support?
Many people who run training websites see them as a “passive” way to make some money. If they are not an actual RTO (see above) they probably don’t have any qualified trainers on staff, in many cases emails will sit in their inbox unanswered for days, and call go to voicemail, to someone who doesn’t know what they are doing, or to a remote site where you find yourself talking to call-centre personnel with heavy accents and no understanding of the topic.
Before you start send a question to them by email and see how long they take to respond, or call them and see if they sound legitimate. Ask if you can speak to a trainer when you call and ask what their qualification is. They should have a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment or at least be in the process of attaining such a qualification.
8. Do they provide support outside of business hours?
Most training websites only provide support inside the business hours of the time-zone in which they are based.
This is important if you plan complete any of your course outside of normal business hours (mornings, evenings, weekends). It is also significant if you are not based in the same time-zone as the training website ‘s staff.
If you run into problems and become locked out of the course you might find you have to wait until the next business day until you can get help and continue with the course.
Check the support hours and the time-zone of the website. Many provide support services well outside normal business hours.
Update: We now provide extended student support seven (7) days a week. Click here for details…