Whether you are trying to prepare for your API certification exam or want to learn more about Inspection, here are some questions to ask to ensure that you get the best learning experience possible when selecting a training course/provider:
Is the course up to date?
Training courses take a lot of time to develop. Therefore, not all courses are kept up to date. Verify that the course reflects the current edition of API Code/Recommended Practice. The American Petroleum Institute's documented codes, standards, and recommended practices are updated and modified every couple of years. Sometimes these changes can have a significant impact. Ask how frequently the course and course materials are updated. Your training provider should be training from the most current publications coming from API.
What is the Class Size?
Remember to check this as it will potentially have a big impact on your learning experience. Am I going to be in a class of 10 participants or 100? The amount of questions that I get to ask (and get answered) may be very dependent on how big the class is. It has been my experience that when a class size exceeds 25, you will need more than one facilitator. While usually a vendor will cancel a course if there is not enough turnout, in some cases they may not. Keep in mind that having too few participants can also have a negative impact on the learning experience.
What is the pass rate of course participants?
If you are preparing for API certification, what is the success rate of previous participants? The answer to this question may be both difficult to provide and difficult to interpret. Are the pass rates high because only highly-qualified personnel attend? The course provider may not be able to verify who actually took the exam during a particular testing window and therefore may not be able to provide an accurate pass rate. Because there are so many variables playing into the estimation of pass rates, be wary of vendors who tout their pass rate as a significant indicator of quality. Also, you may have a higher quality learning experience with a vendor that strives to teach more than just what is necessary to pass the test.
What experience and certifications do the facilitators have?
Some trainers know the course materials but may not be industry professionals. You want to verify that your course facilitator has on-the-job experience implementing and applying the API Code/Recommended Practice. Also ensure that the course facilitator is certified to the current API Codes/Recommended Practices related to the course. Again, it is relatively easy to train to an exam or to regurgitate key phrases from a published document and just about anyone with rudimentary training skill can do this. However, if you are going to invest in the training, make sure you get with someone who knows what they are talking about and who can field the deeper questions that may come up. Don't settle for a trainer that does not have sufficient experiential background in the material being presented or who's not current on their certifications.
Is the course timed effectively to coincide with API exam windows or your RBI implementation?
If you are pursuing API certification, when you take the training becomes very important. In order to retain knowledge gained during a training course, many participants want to complete training as close to the API exam window as possible. Similarly, if you are planning a new RBI implementation, for example, you will want your team to receive their training as close as possible to when they will actually begin making use of their new knowledge.
While some of these questions seem basic and obvious, the answers can be enlightening and help you to make the best decision possible when selecting API training courses. Good luck on your professional development and certification journey!
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