If you have the technical background in testing or calibration, I would strongly suggest becoming an assessor for 17025, which as Nancy said, actually is accepted by RAB as the equivalent of registration audits (and I think assessors get paid more - just my guess).
I do disagree, however, that 'registration' to ISO 17025 is around the corner:
#1 The mere reason of the nature of the document. Look at the title - "General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories". You can't show competence without having very in-depth knowledge.
#2 The international implications are astounding. An accredited lab in the U.S. can provide calibration and testing for customers in many countries, and those countries accept the calibration through mutual recognition arrangements. You will never get UKAS (was NAMAS I believe) or JQA to agree to accept a system based on documentation alone.
#3 ISO 16949 also specifies that calibration services must be accredited as opposed to registered. Several other quality system documents seem to be leaning that way as well.
#3 There are other sources for accreditation if you dislike A2LA already, and there are more working on it. Namely, there is NVLAP (which is part of NIST), L-A-B (which is a for-profit company that has nearly completed the rigors of what it takes to be an accrediting body, which deserves congratulations, as it takes several years to prove competence), and recently, Perry Johnson started up (under a separate company, as it is against the rules [ILAC maybe?] to have a registration and accrediting body together), but they have a long road ahead of them.
If you want better information than I have (and trust me, the world ceases to exist when I have the best information), I would contact NACLA (National Cooperation for Laboratory Accreditation), as they are coordinating the effort in the U.S. these days. They are also part of NIST, hence the website location.
Perhaps I misunderstand what you meant by registrations, and you meant it more as private companies that actually compete for a profit finding the rest of the dwindling numbers of people with enough knowledge of the physics, science, and statistics involved (I have 16 years in calibration labs, 120 credit hours of calibration specific education, and the assessors I meet are so astoundingly advanced in metrology it scares me). If so, I believe it is still a ways off due to the fantastic cost involved. After talking to a few accrediting bodies, it seems to boil down to:
- The body begins performing assessments, but the assessments have a big asterisk
- Two years worth of assessments are audited by other accrediting agencies or ILAC or something like that(I forget, but I've been up for 18 hours) IAW Guide 58.
- Each audit of the accrediting body costs somewhere around $20-30k.
- Without international acceptance through mutual recognition, the registration becomes a very expensive ISO 9002 audit. While some labs may look for the shortcut and less stringent rigors of a registration audit, all they've proven is that they can write a manual, not perform measurements of known uncertainty (which is the point of ISO 17025 in the first place, is it not?).
Again, I hope I was of a bit of help.
[This message has been edited by Ryan Wilde (edited 23 August 2001).]