ASQ (American Society for Quality) Certification Exams - Any Real Value?


Fully vaccinated are you?
ASQ - Any Real Value?

This is from a NG that I found interesting.
Newsgroups: misc.industry.quality
Subject: Re: ASQ Certification Exam
Date: Thu, 16 Aug 2001 16:00:19 GMT
Organization: RoadRunner - TampaBay

Jon wrote .
> The value of the certificate? It should help you find a better paying
> According to ASQ data, Certified workers earn more on average, than those
> without.

Not to be TOO cynical, but of *course* ASQ is going to tell you it's certifications are valuable. I'd like to see independent data some day.

The professional certification program has been a great way for ASQ to shift its focus from SERVING the quality community to SELLING to it. The society does little more now than sell its products and services, and publish articles that ... well, sell its products and services. Compare its output with that of Quality Digest (a free journal that's not afraid to critique Six Sigma), and you can see what I mean.

The merits of ASQ certification are murky, but it's basically "what you do with it." Some of the companies I work with think certification is a good thing, but most see it as an expensive open-book test and a way for people to litter their letterhead with lots of abbreviations.

Specifically speaking to CQA, of which I have the most familiarity, more companies (including mine) are refusing to acknowledge it at all. I want more than a Mastercard receipt for a test as evidence of someone's ability to effectively audit systems. For auditing certification, the current best means is IRCA or RAB, where the test is real auditing, not writing essays about auditing.

>maybe it helps them get the choice jobs, or maybe the ones in
> better jobs are just more motivated to certify. No matter, many employers
> will only hire those with cert's.

And many won't. In fact, I tell people to challenge companies that require it, and explain the weaknesses in the ASQ certification system to the employer. The important thing there is not to come off as a person who is making excuses for not being certified, but someone who has a legitimate position on the subject.

> ASQ has loads of info on the exams. All you need to do is ask.

And provide a valid credit card number and exiration date.

The thing is, ASQ's role has tremendous potential; it's a shame to see the quality community so ill-served by the quasi-commercial marketing machine it's become. The good thing is that there are alternatives.


Comments folks?
Elsmar Forum Sponsor


I have switched jobs five times since 1996 (all my idea and all improvements to the previous). During interviews I found that interviewers were impressed that I had a CQT, CQA, CQE, and CQMgr. Most paid more attention to these than to my A.S. and B.S. degrees. I'm sure it helped with a couple jobs. Also as a consultant it helps me "prove" to clients that I know a little bit about quality.


Al Dyer

I agree that the ASQ has probably evolved past it's original purpose and turned more to sales as its focus. The bigger benefit is with the local ASQ chapters. I was the treasurer for one in Michigan and their goal was to educate and train people at as low a cost as possible.

I have a CQT and have it noted on my resume and such. Never once have I been asked about it. Does it hurt to have the CQT? No, and I'm sure it has helped to some extent. I have found that employers and customers focus more on my other training in specialized quality fields such as auditing, APQP, FMEA, PPAP, QOS, networks etc... and past accomplishments.


Al Dyer

I don't believe the tests themselves to be total money generators (although I have a different stand on the "refresher courses"), there is a purpose.

As for the CEU credits, wouldn't a sane quality proffesional realize that continuing education is in their own benefit, whether ASQ certified or not?

This is not ASQ bashing on my part, just a view of my experiences, just like yours.

Have a good day.

You are absolutely correct. Continuing education should be a part of any profession. My point was simply that ASQ doesn't simply hand out certs.

As with anything else, it depends on what you do with it. If your serious about your profession it will show. I just think ASQ certs' are one way to do that.

No bashing on my part either. JMHO.


Low tech is better than no tech.

Rick Goodson

I am not sure whether there is a value to having my ASQ certifications. Certainly the recertification forces a behavior of continuing education or other activies to 'stay current' in my chosen profession. Would I go to seminars and classes if they were not required. Sure, but probably not as often as I should.

On the other hand, my IRCA certification required that I 'prove' I have some expertise by having a log of the audits I performed. These logs are 'signed off' by the people I audit, most of which hire me because they feel I have that expertise but for the most part are not capable of making that assessment. Maybe the answer lies some where in between. I keep all of my certifications current because some customers value the ASQ certifications, some value the IRCA registration, and some value both.


Just because one has attended a hand gun safety class and has received a certification doesn’t mean they won’t shoot themselves in the foot.

Just because one has a B.S. in business doesn’t mean they will be successful in running company.

Just because one has achieved a CQM certification, doesn’t guarantee they will be successful in managing a quality department.

But there is a level of confidence and respect that goes behind the training and certification, but no fool proof guarantee.
Originally posted by JRKH:
As with anything else, it depends on what you do with it.
I believe there is a differentiation between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is the sum that one has learned, wisdom is how they choose to apply it. Or in the words of JRKH.... "it depends on what you do with it".
When I first entered the quality arena as an inspector, I started reading. I learned there was so much more out there than inspection. Juran, Deming, TQM, SPC etc.....
Then, as I progress in my profession I learned that my little ol' Associate degree in machine design wasn't going to do.

Guess what I found when I looked at the schools. (this was in the mid to late 1980's)
Almost nothing!! After more searching I came upon the ASQ. Finally a place where you could get credit for your knowledge, not how many credit hours you have. I jumped at the chance. Got my CQT, CQA, and CQE.

Most of these certs' require recertification every three years. Which requires proof of continuing education, or retesting. Most require a certain minimum time in the profession before taking the exam. Certification means that you are willing to take the time, and effort to learn your profession and continue learning.

I realize that more schools are offering quality as a field of study, but how many, and how magnanimous are they when it comes to cost? Didn't most of us learn our trade in the trenches?

In sum, YES certifications have been of benefit to me. And I don't believe them to be simply a revenue generator for ASQ.

I now step off my soap box.


Low tech is better than no tech.

[This message has been edited by JRKH (edited 20 August 2001).]


Here are a few points that have not been addressed here yet.

1. You must do more than just pay the fee and pass the test to obtain an ASQ certification. In order to be eligible you must already have a number of years of work experience in the applicable body of knowledge. Some - but not all - of the experience may be substituted with academic work. You must also have two people attest that you are a qualified practitioner in the body of knowledge, and provide proof of professionalism such as membership in a professional society that is a member of ABET. (You do not have to be a member of ASQ.)

2. They are NOT easy exams to pass! I have not been involved in proctoring them for several years so I don't have current data, but the first-time pass rate is surprisingly low. The CQT and CQE exams are by far the toughest I have taken during my career, and I did them by choice. I know several people who have taken them as many as four times in attempts to pass.

3. All but two of ASQ's certifications require regular RE-certification. That involves documenting and providing objective evidence of your ongoing employment, continuing education, publishing (darn - The Cove does'nt count!), teaching, professional development and more. If you don't accumulate enough points then you must take the exam again - and I have yet to meet anyone who wants to do that!

4. Some of these certifications are not exactly new - others are at the leading edge. The ASQ Certified Quality Engineer program started in 1968. Some are much less popular than others (anybody here a CMI or CRE?). There are new ones coming on line because of popular demand. In the ten years I have been a member the number of available certifications has doubled, and I know of at least one more that is being developed.

I am very glad I have my certifications and they are a big benefit to me. First, they validate my knowledge, skills and experience to me. Second, they do the same for an employer. (I regularly see placement listings that say something like "BSEE and 5 years experience, or an ASQ CQE".)

As JRKH alluded to, professional certification is a way of validating that you have real experience in the trenches and have learned something from it, instead of only having credit hours piled higher and deeper. But certification by itself, like a degree by itself, cannot be the whole answer especially in a job search. You still have to sell yourself as a total package and not just wave paper in their face.

Graeme C. Payne
ASQ Certified Quality Engineer

[This message has been edited by Graeme (edited 22 August 2001).]


Let me try again

Graeme says "But certification by itself, like a degree by itself, cannot be the whole answer especially in a job search. You still have to sell yourself as a total package and not just wave paper in their face." I like that! And, I respect those who have been in the trenches and want to further their careers. As stated further on, a track record of "work related" accomplishments is paramount to me in selecting candidates for a position. If they have the paper, that's frosting on the cake. My objection is those who undergo this schooling, no hands on experience, as an end all for seeking positions.

As a non degreed professional in ever increasing roles of responsibilities, I have different slant on the "paper". As another person has said in a post, in the 60's there were not a lot of "paper" certificates available. If you wanted to be a serious Quality Control Inspector of aircraft and it's components, you went to school and obtained a license to work on aircraft frames and engines. After serving 4 years in the US Navy, I went to work for a prominent helicopter manufacturer, with no Inspection experience except maintaining military aircraft readiness. The interviewer saw no paper, other than a Honorable Discharge. He saw something, or just needed a body. I didn't care, and Blam, a STAR WAS BORN!! Yea right…..
I started as an Inspector, advanced to Chief Inspector, Quality Control Supervisor and Quality (Assurance?) Control Manager, with a brief stint as a Senior Quality Assurance Engineer. Most of that experience was in Defense product in different companies. (Submarine and Aircraft Systems).
A few years ago, I was looking for a Mechanical Inspector to add to the department of 8 inspectors. Most of the inspectors I had were from different companies with different skill levels. Some had training or promoted from within. After reviewing some 40 resumes, I selected an individual with all the paper you can ask for. If you saw the Society this and the credits that, group memberships, blah blah blah, you know that this person had an agenda and it wasn't to be an Inspector. But, he did apply for the position. So, not being the type who discards a resume because it's better than mine, by some estimations, I hired him. I felt, hey bring it on-let's see what you got!
Well, he lasted 4 hours. The shortest time ever for a new employee. A new company record.The other department supervisors chided me for "drumming" him out. No way would I do that. It went just like this:
He was given a blueprint, 50+ parts, (of which he only had to inspect a sample of 13). That was all. He asked me "what should I inspect?" I said "the part." He said "what on the part". I said "all the dimensions shown on the blueprint”. He said, “Where’s my checklist?” I said, “we don’t use a checklist for machined parts.” ( We purchased these parts and had a c of c and Chems/ Phys). “Just check off the attributes on the drawing and it becomes our record along with an Inspection Report.”
After about 2 hours he came to my office and quit. His reason? “I can’t work under this kind of system.” I explained nicely that “we aren’t going to hold your hand. You were hired because you professed to have the needed skills”, as evidenced by those “certificates” that were bursting his briefcase. (This system was under strict DOD scrutiny 8 hours a day-40 hours a week because we had a resident Govt QAR who was there all day nosing around into everything. This system had survived many DOD Audits, from special teams, where they went into every facet of your business including Inspection practices.) The system manufactured was Life Support for Submarines crews.
So he took his paper, his tie and his attitude somewhere else. I hired an Inspector with a machinist background and he worked out just fine. In fact, he’s still there. Since that day I have selected employees who did not deluge me with their certificates, rather they possessed experience in the area that needs staffing. To remain they must demonstrate a solid work ethic. If they want to go to classes to advance their careers, go for it. Company pays for it.
Potential employers who are impressed by the “fluff”, generally, are not hands on Managers and do not have a clue what Quality is. To them, it amounts to a framed “Certificate” on a wall in their reception areas.
This post is not intended to demean the efforts of hard working people looking to really learn something.

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