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How Do You Become a QMS ISO 9001 Lead Auditor? A Step-By-Step Guide

How Do You Become a QMS ISO 9001 Lead Auditor? A Step-By-Step Guide

If you’re part of a team that’s due to assess an ISO 9001 quality management system, and it’s your ambition to become the lead auditor on that team, then read on.

The ISO 9001:2015 (International Organization for Standardization) is an internationally recognized standard for measuring quality management systems (QMS).

Generally speaking, ISO is accepted by the majority of countries worldwide – so it’s a good benchmark to use.

Anyone wanting to become a lead auditor on a QMS 9001 audit, has to have this ISO qualification.

Continue reading to find out more…

What’s ISO?

Created in 1946, ISO comes from the Greek ‘isos’ meaning equal. ISO is an independent non-government organization with a worldwide membership that’s agreed on voluntary global standards across areas like:

  • Management
  • Finance
  • Food
  • Environment
  • Energy management
  • Health and safety
  • IT management

Just to name a few.

The Lead Auditor’s Role

Being a lead auditor assigns audit tasks to team members and has the final call on any non-conformance or non-compliant issues. It’s a critical role for the audit certification to happen.

It’s both an ambitious and exciting advancement for working professionals, fresh graduates, business executives, and managers alike.

If you become a lead auditor, you’ll gain a lot of insight into what ISO certification auditors are looking for. Then you can apply this knowledge during any audit you’re a part of. Being a lead auditor will also help you be a better internal auditor too.

If you’re a consultant who is working with a company that is implementing a quality management system, then you too will benefit from understanding how certified lead auditors think and work.

So, what steps do you need to take to achieve your ambition to become a QMS ISO 9001 Lead Auditor?

Expand Your Experience

Before rushing in, look at your experience level and identify any skills gaps you have. If it’s your ambition to become a lead auditor, you need to gain as much experience as possible in understanding all the processes of the Quality Management System.

This includes volunteering for tasks within your own job to expand your experience, so you better understand how the audit process works from start to finish, not just the theory behind it.

Invest in Yourself

Before becoming a lead auditor, it’s essential that you complete ISO 9001:2015 Lead Auditor Training and pass the continuous assessments and the written exam at the end of the course.

Doing this will help you to understand the international certification process and fully grasp the responsibilities and requirements of being a certified lead auditor.

The course should enable you to develop the necessary skills and expertise to perform a QMS internal and external audit. The right course lasts around four or five days and contains practical exercises that help you master audit techniques.

This education should boost both your confidence and competence when it comes to managing an audit. You should also learn how to communicate with the customer/client and amicably resolve any potential conflicts.

At the end of the course, you should have learnt how to audit to the ISO 9001 QMS standard, interpret all the terminology and requirements of the ISO 9001, and develop an ISO 9001 auditing system.

More broadly, you’ll also gain the skills to plan successful audits including how to create useful checklists, select your audit team, ask the right questions during an audit, identify any nonconformities and hold successful and impactful meetings throughout the audit and resolve problems.

Because the ISO 9001 is a recognized international standard, your lead auditor training has to cover all the knowledge and skills required by ISO.

Also, your training must be accredited by an accreditation body that verifies that the training and the exam you take are done to ISO standards.


Gaining your QMS ISO 9001 certification is not, however, the end of your journey. Once you’ve successfully completed your training and are fully certified, it’s wise to use your learning as soon as possible.

Ideally, you want to look for an organization that needs ISO certified auditors so you can gain more experience and put all that learning to good use so that you can become a lead auditor as quickly as possible.

Although individuals and companies can’t be ISO members, once you have your QMS ISO 9001 training, you can take part in ISO standard work around the world. The ISO has 164 national standards bodies around the world.

What To Look Out For

When you’re choosing your training provider, ensure that as part of the course you receive practical exercises and student activities, using real-life case studies, so you get a good feel for what being a lead auditor is actually like.

Also, you should receive a physical copy of all the relevant training materials relating to the ISO 9001:2015 standard, a course textbook, and a practice exam before you take the real exam at the end of the course.

Are You Ready to Become a Lead Auditor?

Now you’ve read our step-by-step guide on how to become a QMS ISO 9001 Lead Auditor; you’ll know that being a lead auditor is a great career stepping stone.

Take a look at some of our courses today, which include Human Resource certifications such as aPHRi, PHRi, SPHRi, GPHRi, and SHRM.

When it’s time for you to move your career up a notch, we’re here and happy to answer any questions you may have. Just contact our knowledgeable and helpful customer care team, and they’ll get back to you as soon as they can. Speak soon!

10th October 2023
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