Gaining an assessor/IQA/EQA qualification

Becoming a vocational assessor or IQA is seen by many as a credible career path into teaching, training and quality assuring. It is hugely rewarding, if you can find the right path to gaining the qualification and the right experience to enable you to reach robust assessment decisions as an assessor, or improve assessment performance as an IQA.

In the past, it was the norm for vocational assessors to gain their qualification on the job, in-house under the mentorship of a more experienced assessor. This is still a main route for employees to become assessors. However, many new assessors now undertake their assessor and IQA/EQA qualifications away from their vocational specialism and sometimes on the back of minimum evidence requirements.

Here are some things to avoid:

    • Providers offering an A1 assessor qualification (the qualification no longer exists, although it’s perfectly valid for an existing assessor to put it on their CV if they already have it).
    • Promises of employment (unless – of course – you are already in employment): recruiters look for freelance assessors with experience, so if you lack real assessment experience, don’t be surprised if you find it difficult to break into the freelance market.
    • High income potential: if anything, rates of pay have been driven down with recent funding cuts.
    • A website with a premium telephone number and no ‘real’ people (this can sometimes be an indication of a broker who sub-contracts out the tutoring and/or assessment functions leading to long waits for support or feedback on work). Instead, look for testimonies from named customers, tutor names and profiles, and an indication of who the owners are. The best providers are often small and specialist providers who get referred through word of mouth. It’s worth seeking them out.
    • E-learning models where you can’t see or sample what you’re getting when you sign up to the qualification. Sometimes these consist of little more than a list of written assignments, so ask to see what you will be learning. (If you suspect there isn’t any learning, or the provider tells you they will provide you with the evidence you need to get the qualification, don’t waste your money.)
    • Accelerated pathways to gaining the qualification. You may well gain the qualification, but you will not assimilate the knowledge required or be able to put it into practice with real candidates, assessing them under supervision over a period of time. Look instead, for a sensible period of time for you to learn and achieve (think very roughly in terms of the period it would take your potential candidates to achieve a vocational qualification of similar size with you as their assessor).
    • Up-front payment via a website if any of the above apply. The option of staged payments allows you some control if you don’t get the service you were expecting.

As with all vocational qualifications, those learning how to become assessors and IQAs need to follow the learning journey just as their potential candidates do. In other words, following a model of teaching and learning that includes initial and diagnostic assessment, teaching and learning of background knowledge, on-job learning and work-shadowing of an experienced assessor or IQA, and reaching assessment decisions under the supervision of a more experienced assessor (or managing assessors’ performance for a learner IQA). This should take place over a period of time according to the learner assessor or E/IQA’s needs and summative assessment should only take place when the person is regularly performing to the assessor/IQA/EQA standards they are hoping to achieve.

This article comes with thanks to my social media followers for their continued support and their many messages concerning assessment and I/EQA practice. Particular thanks go to those whose stories I have used here and for their permission to use them.

This article first appeared as a Linkedin Pulse article September, 2015.