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Choosing between online and in-class ISO 9001 courses: Pros and cons

When you are trying to learn more about implementing or auditing ISO 9001:2015, and the Quality Management System (QMS) in general, it is helpful to find a course that will aid you in understanding the requirements. However, these courses come in different formats so it is important to think about which one is right for you. The two main formats are online, and on-site (also known as classroom-type or in-class), with the classroom-type course being the more traditional. In this article we will look at the pros and cons of each to help you decide which ISO 9001 training works best for you.

In-class ISO 9001 training courses

In-person training is a tried and true method of delivering information to learners, and is still a mainstream method of learning when it comes to ISO 9001 education.


  • Focus – If you have trouble setting aside the time to work through an online ISO 9001 course, or have trouble with being interrupted, then it is sometimes easier to block off the days required to go to a course and just do the learning. This can help with focusing on absorbing the material you need to learn rather than being interrupted by other work pressures at the office. The overall time may be longer, but you can get the learning done before you return to work.
  • Group training – With many on-site training providers you can arrange for the course to come to you if you have enough people in the organization that need the training. This can help you to learn the material with the team that will need to know it so that you are all on the same page during implementation or auditing.
  • Clarification – It is often easier to get your questions answered, and misunderstood concepts clarified, when you are face-to-face with the instructor. This is particularly true if you are asking questions about implementation that are specific to your organization.


  • Availability – Unless you are booking a multi-learner session at your facility, you will need to find a training session which is being offered when and where you need it. You have no ability to adjust when the training is offered and to make it work with your schedule; you will have to make your schedule fit the course availability.
  • Time away – It is a common problem that if you go away for training, you have a lot of work to catch up on when you return. If this is how your job works, then this can be a drawback of the onsite training method.
  • Course type limitations – It can be hard to find the exact ISO 9001 course you want nearby. This gets even worse when taking into account the extra cost for on-site training over online training. You may find a provider which will do a custom course at your facility but, again, this requires a number of people to make it feasible.

For more on the different types of ISO 9001 training courses provided, see the article: ISO 9001 Training: What it is, where to find it, and some tips.

Online ISO 9001 training courses

In recent years many types of ISO 9001 training courses have begun to be offered online, and are becoming more and more popular. For many organizations this can be a valuable method of attaining the skills and knowledge required, so think about these pros and cons when deciding how you want to achieve your goals.


  • Cost – Probably the biggest pro is that online courses tend to be less expensive than on site courses, and some are even available for free. This is mainly due to the removal of costs for facilities, food, travel, etc. which add to the cost of going to a course in person.
  • Availability – Online courses are often available on demand, when you want to use them. This means you can integrate online training into your workday without the need to block off entire days to attend a course.
  • Repeatability – If you miss something with a pre-recorded online course it is often possible to re-wind and play that part of the training video again. This allows you to make sure you didn’t miss anything.


  • Interaction – While not always an issue, asking questions for clarification at an online training course can be a problem. This is especially true if the training is pre-recorded, but even with live online training it can be difficult to ask a question at the right time during a presentation. This can be mitigated by finding an online course that also includes a way to get your questions answered.
  • Interruption – One issue with an online course is setting aside the time to learn without interruption. If you are trying to learn during down-time at work, or even in the evening at home, others disturbing your learning can be troublesome.

ISO 9001 training courses: Online vs. in-class?

Usually, training providers offer four different kinds of courses: Foundations Course, Internal Auditor Course, Lead Auditor Course, and Lead Implementer Course. Click the link to see examples of such online courses: Free ISO 9001 training & certification – online courses.

Which course is right for you?

This question can only be answered by you, taking into account your specific circumstances. When you decide on the course type you need to satisfy your needs, it is worth comparing both the online and onsite training options available to you to determine which best suits your needs and budget.

If you need to learn about ISO 9001 basics, enroll this free online training: ISO 9001:2015 Foundations Course.

Advisera Mark Hammar
Mark Hammar
Mark Hammar is a Certified Manager of Quality / Organizational Excellence through the American Society for Quality and has been a Quality Professional since 1994. Mark has experience in auditing, improving processes, and writing procedures for Quality, Environmental, and Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems, and is certified as a Lead Auditor for ISO 9001, AS9100, and ISO 14001.