Quality Auditor Certification vs. Lead Auditor Certification



Quality Auditor Certification

Aside from the obvious, what is the difference between Quality Auditor Certification and Lead Auditor Certification? I am assuming that Lead Auditor training covers more planning, implementation and reporting of audit results, but other than that, do they use the same curriculum as Quality Auditor training?

I'm going to take the classes to become certified, but at the moment, I'm a little confused as to which training I should take- I will be in a lead auditor role, as I work for a small company and I do most of the auditing. But I'm not seeing a "Lead Auditor Certification" through ASQ, only "Quality Auditor." However, several companies outside ASQ offer Lead Auditor training. Is there a recognized certification for lead auditors?

If you can help me sort this out, I would greatly appreciate it!

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There are RAB Certified Lead Assessor courses available through many sources. The biggest difference between the Lead Assessor course and internal auditor is yes, you guessed it, planning, reporting etc., all the "leadership things" plus the fact that you get a RAB Lead Assessor certificate.

Lead assessor courses are good, I would not suggest that every internal auditor needs to take the lead course, but it is nice to have one or two to kind of, well, take the lead...sorry, that was kind of a bad pun.


First and foremost, welcome to the Cove. We all hope you will participate often.

The main differences in ASQ’s Certified Quality Auditor (CQA) and the Registrar Accreditation Board (RAB) Lead Auditor (LA) is simply one of credentials. If you are RAB certified, you can audit for registrations. My understanding is that with CQA, you cannot. You will still need RAB to audit for a registrar.

The training is entirely different. The RAB Lead Auditor course is more about auditing to ISO 9001, than anything else. The CQA is more about auditing, not specifically to any one standard. They are two different things for two separate activities.

Internal auditors can really use both (if cost is no object). The CQA will help in auditing; the LA will help in understanding the standard. From a realistic standpoint, and from my personal viewpoint, I would recommend the CQA. I am RAB, and find its application to internal auditing to be limited. But then again, I don’t like tomatoes. I’m confident there are others that feel LA is better.

Hope that helps

M Greenaway


Dont know if you guys have heard of the IRCA in the states ?

But it is supposedly the International Register of Certified Auditors, dont know how their credentials stack up against RAB etc.

Anyway they offer Lead Auditor and Internal Auditor certification schemes, the basic difference being Lead Auditors are trained to lead (funnily enough) a group of auditors on an audit, as said above planning, reporting, etc.


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I know of the IRCA and almost 'joined' them. I was looking at certification schemes. The RAB wouldn't take consultancy / implementation audits but the IRCA allowed credit. Never went through with either because I really haven't wanted to audit on a regular basis. But - I may have to soon 'cause consulting is - well, there are thousands of ISO consultants now and auditing is an option I may have to consider.

As far as I can tell, both IRCA and RAB 'certification' are about equal in acceptability with registrars.

Comments for others?
Welcome to The Cove.

db did a good job of explaining the training differences. The one point I would add is that the CQA courses that I took did include training in leading an audit team.
My feeling is that the CQA is fine for internal and second party auditing.

I would also recommend getting Dennis Arter's book "Quality Audits for Improved Performance". It is an easy read, and an excellant resource no matter which direction you choose to go.


Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
Staff member
From my understanding, the CQA is harder to achieve than the Lead Auditor certification, the CQA being more broad and the LA being localized (ISO). Having said that , I don't know how it would be if someone without any auditor training took one before the other. They might be inclined to disagree.

Barb would probably have a pretty good answer to this question, but I haven't seen her post in a bit. She used to coordinate RAB Lead Auditor gigs, two day events as I recall where participants took the class and later tested for RAB Lead Auditor credentials. From my understanding, if one has the CQA, the RAB lead auditor classes are reduced to the ISO interpretations only. From my personal experience, studying for the CQA was a several nights-a-week process, a CQA primer class once a week for 12 weeks (3 hours each). I haven't seen an RAB lead auditor program as extensive, and probably for good reason. The CQA covers all types of audits, not specifically Internal Quailty System Audits.

Having said all of this, it could just be my slant since the CQA came before reading the ISO standards. I should do the RAB thing to see for myself, I suppose.

Katy, in your studies for the CQA, are you finding it to be more or less comprehensive than your previous studies?



The CQA designation is by far the most comprehensive treatment of auditing skills as Kevin says.
I went through the IRCA LA course last year, It was excellent for ISO type audits and was a very effectively delivered course yet, I have found that almost all of my potential client auditees were exclusively interested in me having the ASQ, CQA designation.


Auditor Certification

Wow! Thanks everyone for your responses! I stumbled across this forum purely by accident and I'm sure glad I did!

I purchased the CQA training program (on disk) from ASQ last year and I've been browsing through it, but have not actually started "studying" yet.

I do have the book "Quality Audits for Improved Performance", James, and I have also found it very helpful.

The purpose of my training is to improve my auditing skills and my knowledge of the new standard. My only application will be conducting internal audits of our quality system and coordinating the 9000:2000 transition. Truthfully, I don't want to be an auditor when I grow up (did I just type that out loud...in a quality forum??), so I'm wondering if the CQA is really necessary. If the lead auditor training focuses more on the standard, it might be more beneficial to me and my company if I chose that type of training.

I'll give it a little more thought...but I thank you all for your advice! You've been very helpful!


Katylane wrote: [Truthfully, I don't want to be an auditor when I grow up (did I just type that out loud...in a quality forum??)]

Once you've hung around with this bunch awhile, you'll begin to wonder if any of us are grown-ups.:vfunny: :vfunny:

I for one may have to get older, but I refuse to grow up. In fact my plan is to live forever. (so far so good):cool: :cool:

Anyway glad we could help.

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