Which certificate should I start with from ASQ, CQIA or CQE? (or should I take something else)


I am an electrical quality engineer. I hold bachelor degree in mechatronic and I have been working as quality engineer for more than 3 years in electrical panel builder company (low and medium voltage). Currently, I am looking to take one of ASQ certificates, but I do not know from which to start. I have not had any professional certificate before. I am thinking to take CQIA and CQE but I am not sure which one should I take. If you have any other suggestion let me know. Please help me. Thanks

Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Welcome to The Cove Albert86!

It has been a long time since I have taken the CQE exam. I heard it has been changed since I passed it.

The degree and experience you have appears to qualify you for the CQE. If you haven't already reviewed the 2022 CQE Body of Knowledge, this seems a good time to do so. I do not know the extent to which your experience would prepare you for the 5 hours and 18 minute open-book exam having 160 questions. I suggest studying with the most recent ASQ CQE Handbook.

The CQIA is what they call a foundational certification. If you haven't already reviewed its Body of Knowledge, now is a good time to do so. You would find its subject matter much simpler. The 100-question openn-book exam is three hours. In my view, its value would probably be that of getting used to ASQ's exam process, and supporting your employer's continual improvement program.

It comes down to what you want to do with the certs. What career trajectory do you plan to pursue?


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I would recommend the CQE certification. The body-of-knowledge is very foundational for just about every other certification offered by ASQ. There are elements of the CQE BoK that are more mathematical than other possible certifications. Writing only for my professional experiences: I recognize a significantly higher level of competency from CQE folks than from those who chased other ASQ certifications because they either (a) thought they wouldn't need the knowledge from the CQE BoK, or (b) thought that the CQE exam was going to be "too hard."

I found the CQE Exam to be the "middle-of-the-road" in terms of difficulty. I did have to learn certain things, and I had to brush up on some mathematics (also learning as I went). In contrast, once I had the CQE foundation I found another less-technical BoK very easy, and I was not at all concerned about prepping for one of the more technical certifications (because of the overlap with the CQE). The CQE BoK's core is applicable to almost every Quality position I can think of.

Generally: The only reason I would suggest pursuing a different ASQ certification before the CQE is if the engineer has extremely low confidence in their performance with exams. However: If 100% of the BoK for a different certification overlaps with a person's job duties then I can be persuaded that one of the alternate certification might be a better first certification.
As Jen said, the CQIA is pretty basic, it was one of the certs I usually wanted my inspectors to take first. At the time, the CQE was probably the hardest exam (in my opinion), but that was before they added all these new ones (SS, etc).
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