Career Path and Profession of an Auditor
ISO and its related standards are all business management systems. They provide the foundation for which a business can operate. ISO allows a business to manage, improve, and operate a system that focuses on customers (internally/externally), business processes, and product quality. One of the primary benefits of an ISO system is that it allows a third party auditor to observe the business system from an external perspective.
In today’s business environment, it is imperative that businesses truly understand their position in their respective industries. Over the past five to ten years, we have witnessed some long standing businesses fold under the pressure of emerging technology, emerging markets, and customer loss. ISO, and the related standards, force a business to continually monitor, measure, and improve their processes. Having a third party auditor verify and observe processes allows a business to understand if the systems they have put in place are in fact measuring up to its industry’s standards.
As an auditor you could observe processes in a glass factory one day and in a multibillion dollar aerospace manufacturer the next. Auditors are bound by confidentiality but imagine being allowed to walk through small, medium, and large businesses across all industries simply because you are qualified to audit. The highlight of being an auditor is being able to interact with people from all levels of business, including CEO’s. Think about the clothes you wear, the car you drive, or the office building you work in, they are all result of a business process. If you become an auditor you will have the ability to possibly observe all these processes.
Exemplar Global lists the requirements to become an auditor on their website, including passing a certified course and participating in some actual audits. Once you are certified, you are well on your way.
You could work for one of the certification bodies, such as BSI, LRQA, or NQA, or you could work for yourself, or you could run your company’s internal ISO system. Since ISO is the foundation to all standards, all auditors take the ISO class so there are many ISO certified auditors. However, if you have expertise in Aerospace, Automotive, Environmental, Food Safety, or Information Security, you have a better chance of landing a career with a certification body looking for a specialty. So what does it take to be an auditor?
To be an effective auditor you must have a couple attributes. The two primaries are being detail oriented and being a processed based thinker. You must also be able to engage the client and communicate through all levels of the organization.
Although I believe I already possessed these qualities, they were enhanced by my time in the United States Air Force. Before I learned of ISO and before I earned my MBA, I would have never been able to tie my military background and my education together to enhance my knowledge of ISO. I have also taken Green and Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Courses to strengthen my knowledge. The ISO standard also includes design (hardware and software), development, and project management, so professionals with PMP certificates and other professional education would also find value in becoming an auditor.
My fellow Veterans have had similar courses like Lean, Six Sigma, and Project Management as a part of their military training and would find being an auditor rewarding. Certification to become an auditor could be paid for by Veterans benefits. Veteran unemployment rate is at an all-time high and I believe this career path is an excellent option for many Veterans. The skills one learns in the military are excellent preparation for a career in auditing. Being an auditor is a rewarding, energizing, and demanding career and I would recommend to any professional.
Tim Williams, the founder of B.O.S.S. (Business Operations Support Services), is a proud 15 year U.S. Air Force Veteran with a diverse background. Tim earned his EMBA from Arizona State University. He has been trained in Green and Lean Six Sigma Black Belt by Villanova University. He has written aerospace publications as a technical writer, worked in the Federal Government as contract quality representative and works as an ISO 9001:2008 and AS9100 Lead Auditor. He is currently a full member of ASQ, Certified by Exemplar Global (formerly RABQSA) #120967, and a participating member of TAG 176 and ZQ for ISO 9001:2015.