The term “ISO lead auditor” is used in two main ways – the first being the name of the team leader in a certification audit. Even in a team, someone needs to be in charge, and this is no different in the team that audits a Quality Management System. This person in charge is the lead auditor. The second use of the term is to describe the training course required to teach these team leaders, such as the ISO 9001 Lead Auditor Course, the ISO 14001 Lead Auditor Course, or the ISO 27001 Lead Auditor Course.
When thinking of the ISO lead auditor as the audit team leader, this person needs to be more than just an auditor, taking control of the entire audit process and managing the team. The lead auditor will assign the audit tasks, conduct the opening and closing meetings, be the final judgement on non-conformances, and write the final audit report, along with performing audit activities in conjunction with the other auditors. This can be a grueling job, which requires detailed training.
When you consider the lead auditor course, each separate ISO standard requires lead auditor training. This training takes an in-depth look at a specific management system standard (such as ISO 9001, ISO 14001, or ISO 27001), and then takes a more detailed look at how to perform process auditing of the Quality Management System. The training is completed with an exam, which must be passed for an individual to be an acceptable lead auditor for a certification audit. Lead auditor courses must be accredited to be admissible.
A lead auditor course can take different forms, from a 4- to 5-day in-person training to an online course with presentations and a final exam for earning the lead auditor certification. It can be helpful to look at a few different styles of lead auditor training and determine what is right for you.
To be a certified lead auditor, you want to ensure that you have a good background for auditing. Does your work experience give you knowledge that will help with auditing? Do you have an aptitude for understanding processes and finding objective evidence? Do you have experience with process auditing? If so, then working towards becoming a lead auditor could be for you.
With this proper background, you will need to take an accredited lead auditor course, complete the course activities, and write and pass a formal final exam to get the lead auditor certificate. Once you have the certificate, you need to find a certification body that will want to hire you, and there will be several activities for you to complete before you will be able to lead a certification audit. Generally, you will be asked to observe and audit, and then be a member of the audit team, before you are asked to lead an audit.