Training Provider “shenanigans”.. Contract Trainers be prepared!
I have been a technical trainer and a cloud consultant for several years. I also have been in the IT contracting world for much longer. I have to say the longer I work in the IT Training field the more I am convinced that training is the “most unprofessional” part of the IT business. There a few good companies but it seems that they are the exception and not the rule.
I have an indicator and its called the bullshit indicator. I have over 32 cash flows and it used to be just about everyone appreciated your time and trust in them to pay you on a schedule that was clearly defined. Now out of those cash flows less than 20 pay timely(Within a 10 days of due date). Recession has been here its just that paupers are not being told.
The bullshit indicator of more than a 1/3 of companies are struggling paying invoices or royalties tells me that we are not in a good position. Some excuses system upgrades, employee changes, my client has paid me so i wont pay you, etc are just excuses for people without integrity to tell the truth.
I owned a property management business for 10 years before I sold it and I can assure you someone could easily get an ACH the next with near zero cost. That is if that was the companies intention to pay you on time. Excuses for non payment are just that.
Ill let the housing creditors know Ill pay them whenever I want and see how they react? Or what about Chase, maybe they wont care if pay them in 60 days or whenever I feel like.
As a former pre sales architect and also world wide professional services engineer I am convinced that training companies do not generally attempt to attract the best talent. There are so many reasons why training providers do not keep good talent now that I am a “Salty dog” I get it .
Below is some advice and tidbits about my experiences without naming specific training companies big and small. I hope that some of this will help other consultants make a good decision about what they need to consider and appreciate.
I have been contacted by many fellow professionals that want to become a technical trainer, whether its around Cloud Computing, Networking or ITIL.. Generally people want advice or suggestions.. I have compiled my list of things a “Wanna be IT trainer” really should be on look out for, expect to deal with or perhaps try to mitigate or avoid…
Utilize training company reviews. — Yes, just like if your going to work for a company as an employee you have to check Glassdoor. Glassdoor will help you understand how the company treats their employees and also should give you a good idea of how you should expect to treated whether you a Corp to Corp, 1099 or W-2 trainer.
I have posted several reviews in the past and I encourage other workers to do this also. Mainly training companies suck to work for if you want my honest opinion.
- Linkedin — Linkedin is an amazing tool and I personally reached out to other trainers that worked for a specific training company out of Raleigh, NC after I had payment issues with this specific company. Low and behold they were having issues as well and were told a totally different set of excuses. I also was advised to look on Glassdoor.. As a result of this exchange I was able to share a lead that worked for the best for this LN contact.. This posting on Glassdoor as well as the excuses of non payment made me consider other options.
- Vendor Training — Major vendors such as AWS, GCP, HDS, HPE, etc typically use “partners” to deliver training in most cases. This can be a great opportunity to learn a new skillset or at least have access to a treasure trove of training materials you can exploit for new knowledge. Use this to your advantage. If the training company won’t share other training with you then clearly just leave.. There are too many dead end roles in training so don’t waste you effort with them.
- Contract Trainers get the “scraps” — What I mean by this especially if your working for a vendor training scenario that 5 day class is given to the employee and the two day class is given to, you guessed it.. You:).. Reality is that the contract rate is better but certainly not that good to work for two days a week instead of five days. Its not profitable to teach a one, two or three day class in most cases.
- Online vs Travel — Yes, here is my pet peeve.. Online training and travel classes are generally paid at the same rate. In my own opinion this is just pathetic.. Why I would gladly do an online class for a lower rate than get on United or American to slug it to San Antonio or Memphis for a three day to where I piss away hours on travel..
- Payment terms — This is by far the one area I have learned the hard way. I have come to the blatant assumption that as a contract trainer you are a “DISPOSABLE BITCH”… Out of 5 training companies I have worked for only two of five can pay invoices on time. Essentially, you are not only invoicing your time but your expenses so your loaning this company money to do work for their customer. If they cant pay you back in 30 days or less get away since they are floating your money.
- Payment Rates- Generally rates for a contract training gig lets say in the Cloud Computing arena should be around $1000.00 to $1400.00 per class day. CompTIA Classes for example pay somewhat lower so don’t expect to make a living at those $600–900.00. The more technical the subject area will likely command a higher rate. However, I have seen this backwards where subject areas such as CompTIA were the same as AWS or GCP.. Absolutely dumb.
- Negotiate your terms. One of things I have learned is that you never take the rate they offer you. Out of the last 3 or 4 calls I was able to weed out the low end training roles efficiently. There are several major providers that pay as little as possible even if it pisses off the customer. Its about profit and not always about experience. Read on to what I am referring to.
- Globalization of the workforce. Dear fellow trainers. Your are competing with H-1BS in many areas. This has driven down the rates and clearly lowers the quality of the training for the customers. This of course is not always true but when you send someone from India to perform a custom class at a manufacturer in southern Illinois the customer clearly made it known they were not happy. So lets be real if your rate is $1000 per day and that H-1B vise dude is $600 who do you think they will use if they can get away with it… Indentured Servitude is in full force hidden in plain sight in the US.. Wonder where that came from…
- Custom (aka Private )Classes.. This is my second pet peeve. Here is why.. A custom(private) class is usually a pain in the butt for several reasons. First is the customer has you dedicated to them for those number of days. This is fine assuming they do not abuse it and respect your time as well. The second reason is that these “Custom Classes” are very profitable for the training provider. I get that but the rate is the same for you as a trainer and here is a tip. If you have 10 students online in a public class or twenty in a private custom class what do you think will require to not teach AWS and GCP at the same time… A custom class will likely cost the customer any where between $20,000 to $35,000 or more for a week,, You as a trainer will of course get a fraction of that so the training provider loves the custom classes.
- Reviews — Reviews of the training event are very important and I am big fan of these. As a trainer you need to expect reviews that are positive and negative especially if its a public class with a bunch students that don’t pay attention or do not have the “pre-requisites”.. Funny how that same person that asked subnetting twenty times and by by the way did not pass the Associate level certification is now upset with you because you can’t get off topic for two hours.. In reality 95% of the time reviews are stellar, just don’t expect perfection with a broad group especially a public class.
- Withholding of your payment- This has occurred to me only once and this when when I working thru a company in the Boston area for a vendor I wont name, This vendor has historically been a pain in the “coola” for me.. This training provider thought they would withhold payment because 1 student out of six or seven did not give me a 10 out of 10. Lets just say we worked that out and I just quit them. If the training provider wont stick up for you and spend time listening to the recordings its hard to want to slice your wrist for them….
- Finding Gigs- I get this question quite a bit. Here is my take on this. Linkedin generally does the work for me. I have so many courses and publications now that i really don’t need to find gigs. I get contacted quite a bit and I am very picky now about what engagements I am on. The fact is that wage deflation is in full force and It is hard to want to deal with little gigs where you need to spends hours trying to get paid.
- Training provider systems — Does the company have systems in place such as an invoice management systems and a scheduling system? This is important especially to rule out the “we forgot, or it go lost” excuses….
- Third Parties — Temp Companies — There are third party training solution providers you can go thru especially if your starting out. Generally you want to shy away from these since the rates are much lower than if you went direct. Some examples would be Techsystems and The Training Associates.
I can certainly go on. If any has any specific questions please certainly reach out. I would certainly like to help you make a good decision.
My real advice is to go and create cash flows from training online and writing books. I have made tens of thousands in a few months just on Pearson Safari, Udemy, Skillshare, Linkedin Learning, INE and not to mention other outlets. I am finally wrapping up my own platform on Kajabi.
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My current stance In the mean time I have decided to basically not be a contract trainer at this point, its just not rewarding and lately no one seems to be able to pay their invoices on time. Yes, we have hundred million dollar companies that cant pay a $4000.00 invoice in two months.
I also worked for another training provider that changed the payment terms last year at Christmas from 30 days to 45 days with no notice at all.. Now its whenever they feel like.. The Shenanigans continue.. By the way, the bank forgot to send you payment out or my favorite excuse is customer has not paid us so we won’t pay you yet.
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The truly sad part is that I really enjoy the training but the back end stuff takes the air out of you and it appears that client quality is just too risky lately. Its clear that from an economic perspective things are getting worse in the tech industry.
That is the main reason I wont be a contract trainer in the future unless there is good relationship to be had.
I hope your experience is better but if it isn’t I told you so….
The Cloud Tech Guy