Over the last few years, we have noticed a widening of the demographic of people attending our workshops, both in background and experience, as well as in future career objectives.
For many, auditing is often thought of as an opportunity midway through their current careers, usually after being exposed to a certification or surveillance audit of their own organisation’s systems or via their internal compliance function.
The skills that are learned from our courses – either the audit process itself, or the requirements of any respectable standard – are applicable across a vast cross-section of industries, and job titles.
But how does one forge a career in auditing?
We spoke with Peter Chandler, a director in PwC’s Certification & Compliance Services team and an auditing and certification professional with over 40 years’ experience, to ask him key questions about auditing career pathways.
Read on to hear from one of the industry’s most experienced individuals.
Q: What is the difference between being a compliance auditor, an internal auditor and an external auditor? Is one more lucrative than the others?
A: Compliance activities are generally called second party audits. These audits are generally agreed with the client and a co-designed checklist between the client and the auditing body is developed. Companies who want compliance audits are generally those with multiple sites and they use second party auditing to give management confidence that what is happening across the sites is consistent.
Internal audits are audits of an organisation’s own system. These audits are conducted at predetermined intervals and are generally a requirement of the standard the company is operating to. Internal audits can be done by a company’s own staff auditors, or can be contracted out to an external auditor.
Finally, external audits or certification audits are called third party audits. These audits are conducted by a third party (often an accredited certification body) and the result of these audits is that the organisation achieves certification, or maintains their certification.
Certification auditing is probably the most lucrative with second party auditing being not too far behind. Internal audits are generally conducted by staff auditors at the wage they are currently on with the organisation they work for.
Q: If you want to pursue a career as an auditor, what is the next step to take after you have finished training?
A: My advice to anyone wanting to become an auditor is to get as much experience as you can. It is unlikely (but not impossible) that a certification body would take you on unless you were registered with an auditor registration body or had the ability to be registered. To get experience you must try as hard as you can. That might mean doing internal audits for your own company, or offering your services for free with other companies, just to get some audit hours up. If you know other auditors who are working in industry, try to go with them on “buddy” audits. To get registration you will need quite a bit of auditing experience.
Q: If I don’t have previous auditor experience, what should I do?
A: It is always difficult to get audit experience. Auditors need to use their network to see if any qualified auditor would take them out on audits as an observer. They may want to get involved in internal audits for the company they work for, or supplier audits. They could contact a CB or multiple CBs and see if there is any capacity for them to go out on observation audits.They may even approach a company they know and offer their services to conduct a gap audit or perhaps an internal audit.
Q: Is it necessary to register with Exemplar Global?
A: Being registered with Exemplar Global is a requirement of some organisations but not all. There are other auditor registration bodies, like the UK-based IRCA, that is seen as an equivalent to Exemplar Global. Some certification bodies (in fact most) can approve auditors based on their own set of criteria and don’t insist on registration with an external body. This still means you have to jump through all the hoops and have a witness audit, but you will not have to pay the registration fees an external body commands.
Q: What discipline provides the most growth and job opportunities for auditors? Eg, Quality Management Systems, Environmental management systems etc.
A: Currently, we are seeing a rise in the amount of environmental and safety audits being asked for. Another area where there is significant growth is in the disability services sector and we believe, down the track, aged care auditing could be a growth area for auditors.
Q: Are there certain industries that the market demands more certification in?
A: We find those industries where certification is a requirement to trade are the most in-demand areas. For example, construction companies (building, roads, earthmoving etc) need safety certification to participate in tenders. Sectors like the disability services sector must also have an audit as a condition of them being able to offer services to any disabled clients, so they must have an audit. The same can be applied for other standards, like Environment and Quality.
Q: What is a Certification Body (CB) and what do they do?
A: A Certification Body is an organisation that is accredited to be able to offer certification to business or industry. Examples of accreditation bodies that accredit certification bodies to be able to operate are JAS-ANZ in Australia.
Q: Is registration with Exemplar Global mandatory for working with CBs?
A: No, some certification bodies (like PwC) have their own procedures for approving auditors, so they do not need to be registered with an organisation like Exemplar Global. However, by registering with Exemplar Global, an auditor can work for multiple CBs – they just need evidence of their Exemplar Global registration for the CB to recognise their qualifications. Even if an auditor is registered with Exemplar Global or equivalent organisation, each CB will still have some requirements for the auditor to cover i.e. a witness audit.
Q: What kind of experience do CBs look for? Is previous experience necessary to work for them?
A: Generally CBs look at a person’s formal qualifications and their industry experience. CBs will select auditors based on their needs in a particular sector i.e. disability services, an auditor with clinical experience would be an advantage.
Q: Where do CBs generally advertise job vacancies?
A: The normal channels like SEEK, Linkedin and also through Exemplar Global.
Q: What are NACE codes, and how do I get them?
A: NACE codes are industry codes representing certain industries. Auditors, when applying for work with a CB must complete a document that nominates the codes they are approved to audit. The codes are allocated based on an auditors experience, knowledge and exposure to each of the industries and as such, the codes.
Q: What NACE codes are in demand?
A: There are many NACE codes that are important, and it is hard to single any out. I would suggest mining, construction, food, health care, water, and engineering are important, however codes like aerospace and similar industries can be specialist areas where there is not a lot of competition from auditors with the same code.
About Peter Chandler
Peter is a director in PwC’s certification and compliance business, bringing 37 years of experience in inspection, testing, certification and compliance. Peter is a trained quality management systems auditor and is a registered food safety auditor with Exemplar Global, with 20 years experience in managing auditing teams.
Peter specialises in PwC’s compliance delivery of management system certification (such as, but not limited to ISO 14001, ISO 9001, ISO 45001 and ISO 27001) as well as the global and Australian food safety standards, to our clients.
Peter develops and coordinates the teams with the necessary industry codes and experience to cover the diversity of our clients businesses and industries. Peter has worked with the majority of Australian retailers and their supply chains as well as a multitude of manufacturing clients across Australia.
Note: Previously we incorrectly referred to IRCA as an accreditation body of certification bodies. IRCA is actually an auditor registration body.