How do I Become an ISO Auditor?
Anyone can be an ISO auditor.
Internal audits are conducted by employees who have been trained how to audit and they conduct audits within the company on behalf of the company. Contact your ISO representative and ask about opportunities for auditing.
Professional auditors work for the certification bodies. There are no mandatory qualifications to become an auditor but certification bodies are required to demonstrate that their auditors are competent. This is actually a very difficult task and a variety of techniques and records have been established by certification bodies to achieve it – to varying degrees of success. Further, just because a certification body has a lot of records in place, it doesn’t actually mean the auditor is any good. In practice, registrars insist or at least prefer that the people they hire (either as contractors or full time) are “registered” auditors. The two main auditor registration organizations are RABQSA based in Australia and America, and IRCA based in the UK. They both offer similar schemes – not surprisingly as they are governed by ISO standards.
RABQSA additionally offers a competency scheme that requires a comprehensive witnessed audit by an experienced skills examiner – although “who examines the examiner?” is a great question.
The other scheme more widely offered (and more popular) is a qualification scheme that requires you to pass a 5 day lead auditor class (with a 2 hour exam), demonstrate with a CV or resume that you have work experience of about 4 years, that you have more specific work experience of about 2 years (e.g. in quality or environmental sectors that you want to audit in) and then participate in audits to demonstrate audit experience.
Getting this audit experience is difficult for some. Some internal audits and supplier audits can count. Consulting audits can count too. If you don’t have access to this, then often a certification body will allow you to participate in audits but there is usually some payback associated with that. Some less than professional certification bodies will actually charge you to be part of a team that they are charging the client for.
You maintain a log of the audits that you have participated in and get the auditee or team leader to sign off on your logs. These, along with other evidence is submitted to the registration organization for review – and issue of your formal status as a registered auditor.
Once you have achieved lead auditor there is no guarantee that a certification body will contract with you or employ you. The work can be grueling, is not particularly well respected and not always well paid. You can use your qualification to set up as a consultant – but because many of us have had less than professional experiences of so-called professional auditors, the status doesn’t always mean much.
Most people who complete the lead auditor training course stop there claiming to be “ISO lead auditors” on their resume and most employers understand that and the value it brings.