How to Become a Certified Quality Auditor
by Eoin Philip Kelly | February 21, 2020 | Blog , CQI and IRCA , ISO 13485 , ISO 9001:2015 , Medical Devices , Quality , |
This is perhaps one of the most misunderstood topics and its something that I am asked about frequently and I would like to provide an outline of the steps & criteria in becoming a Certified Quality Auditor.
What is a Certified Quality Auditor?
Firstly, an important clarification is that attending a Certified Quality Internal or Lead Auditor Training Course does not mean you are a Certified Quality Auditor! This is one of the most misunderstood ‘claims’ that I come across. I have seen these claims on LinkedIn profiles, CVs, Job advertisements, and many who call interested in training – but these claims are very misleading. Less than 5% of people that attend a CQI & IRCA Certified Training Course ever go on to become a “Certified Quality Auditor”. This is a shame but a quite astounding statistic! And in this post, I am primarily going to talk about & reference CQI & IRCA – who Comply Guru are also accredited with as a Training Provider (Online & Blended Quality Courses).
Attending & successfully completing a certified training course, means just that, that you have completed a certified training course. It means that you meet one of the criteria to become a “Certified” Quality Auditor & there are different Auditor Grades (more on that below). Completing a training course is a very important undertaking – and typically viewed as the first step & starting point for a career as an Auditor!
A certified Quality Auditor is a person who has been accepted as a member of a professional organization, such as CQI & IRCA (UK/Europe) or Exemplar Global (U.S/Canada/Australia), and in achieving that has demonstrated that they have fulfilled all of the criteria required to achieve their desired Auditor Grade – and just one of these is the completion of relevant certified training.
What are the different Auditor Grades?
This can vary based on the professional organization one is applying to. CQI & IRCA are the oldest accredited body in the world for certificated Auditors – offering both professional membership & acting as an accredited training body.
A table of CQI & IRCA Auditor Grades:
First Note: I would like to highlight that the Audits must have been performed after passing the relevant CQI & IRCA Certified training course and be within 5 years of the date of your application.
Second Note: Another piece of advice that I have for everyone is there is a specific audit log template which I recommend everyone uses to record their audits as in my experience, many fail to record their audits, and this can become a really arduous if not impossible task to complete retrospectively. I suggest this as best practice to everyone – particularly as you might change jobs or roles in the future and need these records to demonstrate your competence & experience as an Auditor – or apply for professional membership at a later date. If anyone is interested in getting a copy of this Audit Log template, just email firstname.lastname@example.org and I will happily send you a copy (no charge!).
What is the biggest Benefit of becoming a Certified Quality Auditor?
For many, the need to become a “Certified Quality Auditor” will never materialize. Training alone will be enough. However, with so few achieving this Status, it does represent an enormous opportunity to stand out from the crowd, either among colleagues & co-workers or if you are a current or aspiring Quality Consultant/Auditor. For me, this is the biggest & most obvious benefit.
As I noted at the beginning, in Ireland, many claim to be “certified” Quality Auditors when this isn’t the case – but that doesn’t mean, that they can’t achieve this. Additionally, this is very easy to verify via the CQI website (www.quality.org) to confirm if a person is indeed a Certified Quality Auditor or not!
CQI & IRCA have adjusted and modernized their structure with the role of “Associate Auditor”, replacing previous “Provisional Auditor Grades”, and they hope this will lead to an increase in applications & boost to membership numbers. This grade doesn’t require any auditing experience – it is a nice starting level for those interested in achieving Internal, Auditor or Lead Auditor status. It is genuinely something I would recommend for those who audit on a regular basis! Why not get an internationally recognized “credential”?
Making the first Step to becoming a Certified Quality Auditor
There are two different groups:
a) You have completed recognised training within 5 years
In this case, you are eligible to apply and can get the necessary information here for your desired Grade, and you can apply online: https://www.quality.org/IRCA-grades
b) You have not completed recognised training within 5 years
If you are interested in upskilling, or starting a career in Auditing, or your training has expired and you need to refresh, the first step is to decide on whether you are looking for an Internal or Lead Auditor course. This is another topic that merits a blog on its own and there is also generally a lot of confusion about which course is the best fit. But if you look at the above table on Auditor Grades – it clearly outlines the grades and training courses actually align with this – if you are conducting internal ‘partial system’ audits, then the Internal Auditor course is the most appropriate, however, if you are looking to conduct ‘full system’ audits (even if Internal), then the lead auditor course is the most appropriate.
I, or my colleagues, would be happy to discuss this further or answer any questions that you might have – so feel free to get in touch via phone, email or using the contact form on our website! We would love to hear from you!