The Certified Quality Auditor is a professional who understands the standards and principles of auditing and the auditing techniques of examining, questioning, evaluating and reporting to determine a quality system's adequacy and deficiencies. The Certified Quality Auditor analyzes all elements of a quality system and judges its degree of adherence to the criteria of industrial management and quality evaluation and control systems.
Here are the requirements, experience and exam specifics for a Certified Quality Auditor.
Candidates must have worked in a full-time, paid role. Paid intern, co-op or any other course work cannot be applied toward the work experience requirement.
Candidates must have eight years of on-the-job experience in one or more of the areas of the Certified Quality Auditor Body of Knowledge. A minimum of three years of this experience must be in a decision-making position. "Decision-making" is defined as the authority to define, execute, or control projects/processes and to be responsible for the outcome. This may or may not include management or supervisory positions.
For candidates who were certified by ASQ as a quality engineer, reliability engineer, supplier quality professional, software quality engineer or quality manager, the experience used to qualify for certification in these fields applies to certification as a quality auditor.
Candidates who have completed a degree from a college, university or technical school with accreditation accepted by ASQ, part of the eight-year experience requirement will be waived, as follows (only one of these waivers may be claimed):
Diploma from a technical or trade school — one year will be waived
Associate degree — two years waived
Bachelor’s degree — four years waived
Master’s or doctorate — five years waived
Degrees/diplomas from educational institutions outside the United States must be equivalent to degrees from U.S. educational institutions.
These are the minimum expectations of a Certified Quality Auditor.
Must possess the knowledge and ability to effectively conduct different types of quality audits as appropriate for the method, or purpose of the audit and must recognize the effect those audit types will have on the audit scope and outcomes.
Must be able to audit in a professional, ethical, and objective manner using and interpreting applicable standards or requirements, with an awareness of potential legal and financial consequences of improper auditor actions.
Must be able to effectively plan, communicate, and execute an audit within its defined scope, including scheduling resources, conducting meetings and using appropriate techniques to identify, gather, and classify objective evidence.
Must be able to verify, document, and communicate audit results, develop an audit report, and evaluate the adequacy of the corrective and preventive action plan and follow-up.
Must possess interpersonal skills necessary to conduct interviews, make presentations, resolve conflict, and facilitate audits performed by other parties. Must possess knowledge of the responsibilities of the lead auditor and audit team member.
Must be able to select appropriate quality tools and auditing techniques for effective use in a variety of practical applications.
The topics in this Body of Knowledge include subtext explanations and the cognitive level at which the questions will be written. This information will provide useful guidance for both the Exam Development Committee and the candidate preparing to take the exam.
The subtext is not intended to limit the subject matter or be all-inclusive of that material that will be covered in the exam. It is meant to clarify the type of content that will be included on the exam. The descriptor in parentheses at the end of each entry refers to the maximum cognitive level at which the topic will be tested. A complete description of cognitive levels is provided at the end of this document.
Download the Certified Quality Auditor Body of Knowledge
Review a list of references that provide the basis for the exam questions. These items give you a better idea of the material covered in the exam. ASQ offers many books and training opportunities to help you prepare.
Each certification candidate is required to pass an examination that consists of multiple-choice questions that measure comprehension of the Body of Knowledge.
Computer Delivered - The CQA examination is a one-part, 165- multiple choice question, five-and-a-half-hour exam and is offered in English only. 150 multiple choice questions are scored and 15 are unscored.
Paper and Pencil - The CQA examination is a one-part, 150- multiple choice question, five-hour exam and is offered in English and Spanish in certain locations. View available translated exams, dates and locations here.
All examinations are open book. Each participant must bring his or her own reference materials. Use of reference materials and calculators is explained in the FAQs.
The CQA examinations will continue to present a number of case studies. Each case study will include a brief scenario outlining critical details about an audit situation. In addition, each case study will be supported by related audit documents.
Approximately 10 percent to 15 percent of the test will be devoted to these case studies.
Although the questions related to these cases will use the same four-choice answer format as the rest of the test, the use of scenario details and sample documents will allow the candidates to apply their critical thinking skills in evaluating realistic situations and accompanying documents, memos, etc.
To maintain the integrity of your Quality Auditor certification, ASQ requires that you recertify every three years. Find out the steps you need to take for recertification.
ASQ certification examinations are delivered by ASQ's testing partner, Prometric. The examination scheduling instructions in your eligibility letter will direct you to a section of Prometric's website, where you can select and schedule your examination date and location.