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Pluralsight Review- Is a Pluralsight Subscription Worth it in 2023?

By Curricular Staff Published: February 23, 2023

Disclaimer: Curricular's Founder, Brian Green, worked at Pluralsight from 2013 - 2018.

Pluralsight has grown into one of the key players in technical skills training, with over 7,000 courses, 1,500 authors, and learning paths covering most of the key areas tech professionals need to learn. While we found the assessments, labs, and interactive courses to be lacking, the core of the platform - the video courses and the authors - are still top notch and provide tremendous value. If you're a professional developer looking for an efficient way to get up to speed with the latest technologies and frameworks, Pluralsight is a solid option.

Pluralsight


Bottom Line

Pluralsight is Great For:

  • Professional programmers who want something besides the docs to get a jumpstart on new technologies. If you want a centralized, one-stop location to stay current on new versions of languages, frameworks, and tools, Pluralsight is a great solution.
  • Becoming conversant in how technologies work; learning enough to decide whether to go deeper with a technology.
  • Video courses teaching in-demand enterprise technologies like Java, C#, and .NET. Pluralsight has a strong bench of authors in these areas, and provides a low-cost, flexible alternative to instructor-led training options on these technologies.
  • Learning Cloud and DevOps technologies. You'll find some of the best AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud training courses on the market here, along with certification prep. There are also hands-on labs that guide you through specific tasks you can practice in a safe environment.
  • Teams and organizations who want a strong library of core learning material that they can use as a foundation for creating a holistic upskilling program.

Why You Might Want a Different Solution:

  • If you’re new to writing software, you’ll benefit from something with more hands-on practice.
  • If you’re looking to learn creative or design skills, there are better options.
  • You want interactive courses
  • You dislike slide presentations. Pluralsight has a fairly rigid formula across their courses, which blends slide-based lecture for theory, with screen capture video demos.
  • If you want a certificate of your learning. Pluralsight emphasizes that the practical knowledge from their courses is worth far more than a certificate. Additionally, the SkillIQ scores from their assessments aren't yet established as an industry standard.
  • If you want access to your instructors, or a learning community. Pluralsight’s enterprise scale and flexible learning model come at a cost, which is there’s little to no community support, and little involvement from the authors in supporting students.

What is Pluralsight?

Pluralsight is an enterprise skills development platform, with a vast collection of video courses taught by industry practitioners. The company reports that more than 70% of Fortune 500 companies have learners on the platform and that their user base spans 180 countries.

Pluralsight's major topics of focus are:

  • Software Development
  • IT Ops
  • Cloud Computing
  • Information & Cyber Security
  • Data Professional
  • Machine Learning/AI
  • Business Professional Skills
  • Architecture, Engineering & Construction
  • Creative Professional Skills

Pluralsight’s pricing model is based on monthly or annual subscriptions, as opposed to single-course sales. As of the time of writing, monthly subscriptions start at $48.25 when billed annually.

Pluralsight offers a free trial subscription. However, unlike other platforms, which give you unlimited access for a period of time, Pluralsight gives you roughly 2 hours of learning access on the platform, as a way to evaluate what the platform offers, so you can make an informed decision on whether to purchase a subscription. Occasionally, Pluralsight offers free weekends or lengthier trials as a promotion.

Unlike a marketplace like Udemy, Pluralsight hires instructors to author for the platform, and supports them with production resources. This offers a few advantages. First, when navigating the platform, there’s typically only one course covering the specific material: for example, Pluralsight has a single React 18: Getting Started course, while Udemy has at least 50 options that are rated 4.5 stars or higher. Second, the quality stays fairly consistent across Pluralsight courses: all courses have to go through a review process, and must conform to Pluralsight’s production standards. With a marketplace like Udemy or independent course producer, you may encounter some variance in quality between instructors or even between modules within the course.

Pluralsight's focus is primarily on developing the platform and content towards enterprise learners and teams, as opposed to building for individual learners. As a result, the platform offers some reporting strengths and features specific to corporate customers. However, it is still as strong learning platform for individual customers, as Pluralsight's primary strengths are the video content and authors.


Why Pluralsight Might Be a Great Option For You

Course Library

Pluralsight's library covers a vast range of topics, and there are nearly 7,000 active courses on the platform. Keep the Pareto Principle in mind: 80% of the viewership likely comes from 20% of the courses. Where Pluralsight shines is the commitment to quality and consistency across the library. With Pluralsight courses, you can trust the content is thoroughly reviewed and will be professionally produced.

Author Network

Pluralsight hires some of the top experts in each field to author their courses, and employs the top authors as course reviewers to help ensure quality and to mentor newer authors. While other platforms are catching up, and some of Pluralsight's most vaunted experts no longer author, Pluralsight still has the strongest author network.

Micro-learning

Pluralsight courses are short, typically around 3 hours long, and are divided into shorter modules and clips. This has two major benefits: 1) it helps to plan training and make progress in short bursts, and 2) it makes it easier to go back and review specific topics within the course, to solidify your understanding of the material.

Certification Prep

Pluralsight offers paths and practice exams for some of the most popular Microsoft, AWS, Google, CompTIA, and Cisco certifications. If you're an IT Professional or DevOps Engineer, and want to advance your career with certifications, Pluralsight is a tremendous resource. According to a user survey, 94% of learners who utilized Pluralsight's Certification Prep products passed their certification exam. Some Pluralsight courses also count as continuing education credits for maintaining certifications.

Subscription service flexibility

With a Pluralsight subscription, you gain access to materials covering a wide variety of topics for a reasonable price. The subscription also gives you flexibility; if you only have a few weeks or months where you’re able to focus on learning, you could subscribe for a short period of time and learn the topics you’re after, and then pause or end your subscription when you don’t have as much time.


Some Drawbacks of Using Pluralsight

  • It's easy with Pluralsight to get stuck in tutorial hell. You’re really only learning by watching; not by doing. And the experts are quite good at what they're doing, so it can be difficult to translate what you're seeing into action. Our recommendation to get the most out of the courses is to avoid coding along with the author, and instead watching, taking notes, and then trying to recreate what you just saw.
  • The Pluralsight experience is marketing-heavy. Two months into an annual subscription, we began receiving offers to extend our subscription. We also get emails just about every week inviting us to refer others.
  • There’s an overwhelming amount of content on the platform, and the experience isn't filtered to your preferences. That means you have to wade through all the various audiences to find what you're looking for; even if you've identified your interests as JavaScript frameworks, you're going to hear about ASP.NET courses and Cloud courses. Even the paths page is getting difficult to navigate, between all the various topics covered and legacy versions of technologies.
  • Your favorite authors may not teach the course you need to take. Unlike other platforms or services, - where you can choose your instructor for a given topic, and potentially learn everything from that - author, Pluralsight makes this decision for you.
  • It seems like the overall quality of the author network is declining. Pluralsight used to have the absolute top experts in a wide range of technologies. Now, it feels like many of the best authors are no longer authoring as frequently, and Pluralsight is focused on hiring up-and-coming practitioners.
  • Most of the course scenarios are toy projects or feature-light side project applications, rather than real-world portfolio-ready projects.
  • The website is slooooow. You'll get super familiar with a spinning circle throughout the website.

Getting the Most From Your Pluralsight Subscription

1. Follow the Paths

Navigating Pluralsight's 7,000 course library can be challenging. Luckily, the Pluralsight team has curated a series of paths for a variety of skills. This can help with figuring out exactly which courses are essential, and in which order you should proceed.

Typically, Pluralsight has its top authors work on courses for its paths, so you can be confident you're learning from the best.

2. Space out your learning

With course runtimes between 2-4 hours, it's tempting to cram a bunch of learning into a short period of time. Some paths are around 40 hours long, so you could theoretically binge an entire learning path in a week.

But deep skills acquisition and retention happens through spaced repetition and practicing skills over time, in new contexts.

Give yourself plenty of time to complete your learning, and try to study in small chunks, with lots of hands-on practice in between your viewing sessions.

3. Don't code along; code after

Pluralsight's course format typically involves the author explaining a concept through slide lecture, and then demonstrating the concept using a scenario. This helps guide the real-world application of skills.

It's tempting to code along with the author's demos, to see the solution working on your own system. But without solo practice, the skills won't stick as easily.

A better structure is to take notes while watching the videos, and to practice after. This simulates the "I do, We do, You do" structure of learning that's highly effective for teaching math, where the teacher demonstrates, the class walks through an exercise together, and then students practice solo. Since Pluralsight doesn't explicitly include solo practice, it's up to you to make sure you practice the skills.

If you practice coding after watching, you can go back to view the videos as a refresher or solution explanation.


Don't Bother With

Assessments

While the Skill Assessments are kind of fun, and provide you with how your score ranks among others taking the same assessment, we're not confident they’re the best approximation of skill. Here are some of the flaws:

  1. Multiple choice isn’t the best way to assess skills, especially something hands-on like programming. Multiple choice tests are mostly a measure of test-taking ability, not of knowledge or real-world abilities.
  2. Brian tested proficient in React after taking a handful of beginner React courses. He received a 50% on his first assessment attempt, and that score was better than 66% of users, which put him in the "Proficient" category. But is 50% on this assessment proficient?
  3. The interface didn’t register a few clicks, so answers didn’t register properly.
  4. Occasional errors; we noticed on more than one question that duplicate answer options were shown.

Interactive Courses, Projects, and Guides

These features are touted as a benefit of a Pluralsight subscription. However, it looks like Pluralsight hasn't invested in these products for 2 years.

If you want coding problems and projects, a premium solution like Udacity will get you a code review, which will be significantly more valuable than the fixed-end challenges on Pluralsight.


Why You Should Trust Us

Curricular Guides are written by a team of technical professionals, course developers, and lifelong learners.

For this guide, the team spent over 40 hours testing and evaluating the Pluralsight platform, its core features, and some of its highest-rated courses.

The lead of this project, Brian Green, has worked in developer education since 2009. He built the content development teams at Pluralsight and Udacity, in the process working with hundreds of authors to build courseware, and developing quality standards and tutorials to improve course quality. As of writing, he estimates he has spent nearly a year of his life taking or reviewing online courses, on topics ranging from Web Development, Networking, Server Administration, DevOps, Cybersecurity, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence.


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