CQA Most Common Topics and How to Get Certification
The function of a Quality Auditor is to carry out a thorough independent evaluation of the quality or inspection department of any manufacturing or service company. Throughout the evaluation procedure the quality auditor will independently carry out an assessment of the quality control process and systems, and confirm that all the quality control procedures are being carried out correctly, in order to meet the customer's requirements at a minimal quality cost.
In large engineering companies it is not unusual for the customer to have his own team of quality auditors working alongside the auditors employed by engineering company in a process referred to as a product validation, especially when large financial contracts have been placed. In such situations the team will consist of certified quality audit professionals who hold the CQA, (Certified Quality Auditor).
The most common topics and functions associated with any CQA include the following duties.
- Verification of the correct application of quality systems, ranging from incoming good inspection, in line inspection, and the inspection of the finished goods.
- That the quality control staff and work inspectors are all competent, aware of the customer's requirements as detailed in the product specification, and all quality personnel are properly trained.
- The quality auditor will be responsible in ensuring that all measuring devices and instruments, both mechanical and electrical are regularly calibrated in line with defined quality procedures, and that the facilities in the quality control laboratory are up to date.
- The auditor will be expected to issue objective reports on the audit findings on a regular basis, and be able to stand apart from management production processes whereby pressure may be made to pass and ship the finished goods, irrespective of any adverse quality audit findings.
It is highly recommended that any person involved in quality audit become certified by passing the CQA exam. Listed below are a few tips as to how to get CQA certification.
Nearly all certifications relating to the quality function are carried out under the auspices of the American Society of Quality (ASQ) so the first thing to do is to browse around their relevant website.
To apply for the CQA exam you will have to meet certain basic requirements.
Prior to any application you will need to be in full time paid employment and are required to have a minimum of eight years on the job experience relating to the content of the CQA body of knowledge, (Available on the ASQ/CQA website).
Further, three years of your experience should have involved decision making roles, by which is meant that, you have had the authority to not only define and control projects and processes but be responsible for the result of such quality programs.
However if you have gained certification from the ASQ in related quality disciplines (Quality Engineering for example) this will be favorably taken into account when you apply for your CQA. If you hold academic qualifications then time waivers against the 8 year on the job experience are accreditable. A Technical Diploma will earn a 1 year waiver, an Associate degree, a 2 year waiver, Bachelors, a 4 year waiver, and a Masters a 5 year waiver.
You will also be required to meet certain minimum requirements to gain your CQA, a couple of which are defined below, to give you an idea, though the list is not complete by any means.
- Have the knowledge to conduct various types of audit in an effective manner, and recognize for conducting such audits in a professional and objective manner.
- Be aware of any legal or financial implications which may result from the quality audit.
- You should be comfortable with document verification, the issuing of audit reports, and taking any corrective action necessary, along with the ability to resolve any internal conflicts which may arise due to production pressures.
The next step in the CQA certification process is to sit the written exam which is held twice yearly in June and December, consisting of multiple choice questions spread over a five hour period, all based on the content of the CQA body of knowledge.