Are you interested in becoming an ISO 9001 auditor, either for your own organization as a quality specialist internal auditor or for a third-party Certification Body? The role of an ISO Auditor is described as: “responsible for ensuring that the production systems and processes of manufacturing firms comply with ISO standards. They must conduct surveillance and assessment of these firms and report any non-conformity in audit reports. ISO auditors also make necessary recommendations to help the system operate in compliance with required ISO standards.” – Source
You will need to take the necessary steps to train yourself and seek training on the various companion requirements, the standard, and its best practices. Becoming an auditor will take time and a detailed understanding of the ISO 9001:2015 standard.
BECOMING AN AUDITOR
To become an auditor, you will first need the necessary training. As an auditor, you need to demonstrate knowledge of ISO standards and comprehension of the standard you will audit against, along with its companion material and standards for proper auditing techniques and expectations. Consider taking introductory-level courses if you are brand new to ISO 9001 like an awareness course or introduction to the standard course. These courses are often low cost, and low time commitment and allow you to learn about the standard either in class or online. You will also need to take a Lead Auditor or Internal Auditor course to learn auditing techniques and requirements.
Completing audits as an observer or auditor-in-training will help you meet requirements for audit experience and learn from experienced auditors.
Consider your work history and work experience too. Once you become an auditor, obtaining technical industry codes will help you with booking jobs. For example, if you have experience in construction, you can obtain that specific code which will allow you to audit for organizations with its respective IAF, SIC and NACE codes. Use your work history and experience to your advantage when you are becoming an auditor.
EARNINGS OF AN AUDITOR
The amount of money an ISO auditor makes depends upon their experience and auditing skills. An auditor has an earning potential that ranges but is typically around $90,000 USD per year.
Due to the nature of certification, auditors do expose themselves to legal claims and liability that could be financially detrimental. It is important to recognize these risks, and properly prepare yourself for this with insurance and coverage. If you are working for a CB, they may demand a certain level or plan for you with their own insurance provider, or an industry-standard option in your region. If you are in the United States or Australia, consider looking into Exemplar Global options, found here.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AUDITOR AND LEAD AUDITOR
As a Lead Auditor, you are responsible for leading the audit team, preparing the audit plans, delivering meetings and submitting the audit reports and findings at the end of each audit. If you are part of the audit team, you report to the Lead Auditor who will assign you specific areas to audit and report on, and a timeline to submit your report. You will not be responsible to present during opening and closing meetings, and you will not be responsible for creating and submitting the final audit report.
LEAD AUDITOR ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
- Possess strong analytical and problem-solving abilities
- Manage a team of auditors
- Evaluate an organization’s processes for compliance with quality requirements
- Develop audit plans and schedules
- Participate in quality audits (and lead a team of quality auditors, when needed)
- Identify processes, situations, etc., where an organization is meeting requirements, as well as identify opportunities for improvement
- Develop audit reports and present to top management
- Assist with follow-up audits, as required
BECOMING A LEAD AUDITOR:
To be a lead auditor you must have a varying minimum number of years of full-time general work experience and practical experience in applying ISO principles, procedures and techniques. You will need to seek out certification training from a personnel certification body and perform the required auditing time via shadowing other auditors. Lead auditor certification generally requires tertiary education plus two years of work experience as a lead auditor in training.
Auditors should also have strong interpersonal skills and be comfortable with public speaking, and proficient in the written and spoken language in which you will be auditing. Being proficient in Microsoft Office is also helpful as you will need to develop written reports and format appropriately for the organization you are working for.
Auditors should also be able to think outside the box to problem-solve if audit plans do not go according to plan. Whilst an auditor should be prepared well in advanced and aware of time management due to the interpretive nature of auditing an organization, the auditor should also be able to re-prioritize if circumstances out of their control change the plan.
To the novice quality manager, ISO jargon can be extremely overwhelming. What is an NCR? What do you mean by OFI? Are we certified or accredited? But before you go and pull out your hair, let’s take a moment to go over some of the most frequently used terms and their definitions with regards to ISO and Management System Certification.