Auditor Certification - IRCA/RAB 5 day lead auditor course and exam - Bad Experience

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I spoke with Mark recently regarding the standard IRCA/RAB 5 day lead auditor course and exam.

I had a rather bad experience with this course, and since then I have been looking towards the ASQ, CQA designation as being a legitemate and more acceptable form of qualification to have as an independant self employed auditor.

I would seek advice from all of you seasoned auditors out there in quality land.
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Al Dyer


I also took the RAB course and wondered if you would expand upon your bad experience. This sounds like a good topic for discussion!



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My Lead Auditor course provider was IQuES and it was excellant.

The instructor was well versed and experienced, had a great sense of humor and made himself available after hours.


My experience with the 5 day lead auditor course and exam was a nightmare from start to finish, not only me but eight out of ten of those who attended the course were very disatisfied with the course content, presentation and personal outcome of the course and testing. Eight of the ten people who attended including me all failed the testing and this caused me and others to question the credibility of the IRCA course presentation. I should say that there was no sour grapes at the failiure of the eight yet, We all believe with conviction that the statistics of eight out of ten fails was a cause for concern to all, as most of those who attended were all seasoned quality auditors. The registrar who is Toronto based gave a fair hearing to any complaints yet the concerns were brushed aside as being of no importance to the general course content and outcome. It was made clear to all who attended the course that, this course was the only way to gain credibility as a quality system auditor, I thought this comment was pretentious to say the least.
The registrar held the opinion that the ASQ, CQA designation was of little or no use as a form of certification and considered all auditors who rely on the ASQ for this designation to be lacking the appropriate certification and credibility to be recognised as an auditor of quality systems in general. Having had time to think of the experience and the negetive outcome, I believe and concur with all who were disatisfied with this course that the course presentation and content had caused our understanding of the IRCA course to be blurred and distorted. I noticed something significant regarding the presentation of the IRCA course that, most of the terminology used was very British and that, the north american equivelants were not provided within the course manual, I originaly hail from the UK and I even had some problems with the termonology presented and, being here in Canada for some years have become accustomed to the north american terminology. I have come to resent the fact that the registrars have in a sense a monopoly on the certification of quality system auditors, I recently viewed the course delegate manual that was provided and, I have come to the conclusion that the IRCA course does not and can't possibly give an auditor the tools and credibility to be an effective and proficient quality system auditor, I continue to be in favour of the ASQ body of knowledge as the foundation to proficient and effective execution of auditing skills. I would appreciate any comments that would be helpful regarding deciding what the best option would be to ana auditor who is seeking a credible and recognized form of certification.

barb butrym

Quite Involved in Discussions
Wallace...I am sorry to hear of the your disatisfaction. Let me add a bit to what you sure sounds as if you got a bum deal.

The course material is basically the same in any has to be somewhat standard...thats the whole idea behind it.

The presenter is the rest of the equation...the onus is on he/she to know where each attendee "is", and keep the pass rate in mind and reinforce as required (ie "english") It is suppose to be tough...a boot camp if you will, its designed that way on purpose. It adds in the think under pressure factors. The exercises also add value.... and if done presented properly will ensure an understanding enough for a passing grade....Its odd that so many failed. My classes are typically teh reverse 8pass/2fail....What was the out come of the daily evaluations?

Most failures are well predicted by Tuesday AM....and there is nothing you can do about them. Typically they can't make a decision or cannot remove themselves from past history objectively...or babble on and on all around the answer comparing to their company as the end all expert. You have to be open to other ways and be able to say..."ok, its unconventional...but does it meet the intent of the standard". You cannot teach that....just try to lead them.

The CQA is a different animal altogether..its really not meant to prepare a lead auditor for what they find in the field..real time. the skills are there for the most part...but anyone with good testmanship skills and basic knowledge can pass (been there,,,,,also have submitted questions and taught the CQA refresher) a matter of fact the refresher teaches more testing skills than audit skills, in my opinion.....

For both the factor of "testing" is an issue, but there are things to be considered that do not appear on the surface to be relevant....

For the CQA the answers are not what we think, but what ASQ thinks is the best answer, quite often its foreign to our experience. Not a lot of written skills taken into effect.

for RAB/IRCA the written and "follow directions" and interpretation skills are more prevelant in the scoring. Also the pressure of the week factors in...'cause that what auditors do. The answers are scored according to a grid of priority answers given by IRCA/RAB...if you interpret the question as asking one thing and it really wants to see another addressed, then you loose massive credit. The review the day before the test should have prepared you for that...especially the essay questions and nonconformances. The lead auditor needs to prepare a report in limited space...saying the most as completely and consisely as possible, make decisions on his feet and when stressed from a week on the road. Hence the rules for staying in the allotted space and no cross outs. This also takes into effect the planning skills of the auditor..SO as you see there is more than meets the eye in the material. The basic "this is an audit" and how to make a checklist stuff is the time you get there you should **** well know all that. More time should be spent on the standard, interpretations and activities that will make or break an auditor.

FYI more people fail the QSLA who take the CQA first.......its the mind set of the tests.
Just to let you know, I took the 5-day Lead Auditor Course through Stat-a-Matrix and had a good experince. Most of our audit team has also used Stat-a-Matriz and also had good experiences. I can imagine it was a long 5 days in your case Wallace! It's long enough when it is a good experience.


Thanks Cari,
I have came to the conclusion that the best auditor is the auditor who gets out there and gains some experience from a number of quality audit encounters, the five day course is just a course, the registrar control (oversight) of quality system auditor certification will I am sure diminish to the point of organizations such as ASQ offering the ASQ, CQA designation as the accepted norm for auditor recognition, feedback that I have had from the UK suggests that the registration and certification programs that are now available for quality auditors are rather inadequate, thus I lean towards the ASQ,CQA designation here in North America.

Aaron Lupo

Wallace it sounds like you had a bad experience. i took the 5 day course from BSI/CEEM and it was wonderful, the instructors were very knowledgable and helpful. You say there is no sour grapes but that is not the impression I get from reading your posts (just my lowly opinion). I currently work with a company I am not a "Manager" I have my RAB Certification. The Quality Manager of one of our other facilities is CQA, she has no idea how to conduct an audit, she knows nothing about Quality Assurance, this person held positions in other companies as Quality Control (much differnt that Quality Assurance). I think ASQ CQA is very good for Quality Control but not very good for Quality Assurance IMHO. I am not saying one is better than the other but that they serve differnt purposes or functions? Does this make sense?


Thanks for your comments, I kinda thought this topic was dead. I certainly believe that my comments regarding my rather negetive experience with the LA course was posted with conviction and as, I did point out in my initial mail on this subject, I do not want to seem as if i am being a moaner, I have very sincere concerns for the qualification process of QMS auditors and, the fact that the QMS registrars and associated trainers have what might be called a monopoly of the registration processes that allow quality auditors to gain credibility within the QMS arena.
The fact that issues such as SPC and SIGMA are not even addressed within the current body of knowledge used and taught by registrars seems IMHO to be a gap in what is currently expected of QMS auditors regarding having a working knowledge of what is important to the QMS arena regarding value added assessments, I firmly believe that the best auditor is the experienced internal auditor and, I have found that the most decorated auditors may be found to be lacking in real time experience and it is a pitty that the qualifications of certain individuals are looked at as being the qualifiers for real time hands on experience.
OH NO WAS THAT ANOTHER MOAN, sorry in advance.
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