Apart from our old faithful Award in Education and Training, the qualifications we are asked most about are the ones you need to be an assessor. Becoming an assessor has suddenly become very confusing. When I qualified in 2009 it was easy: you completed the A1 Award and all was well. If you search for Assessor qualifications on Reed today, though, you are met with hundreds of options with all sorts of titles. Some of the qualifications listed don’t even exist anymore so for this blog, we thought we would cut through the jargon and work out what is really needed if you want to be an assessor. 
Being an Assessor can mean delivering and assessing NVQs, or assessing NVQs where someone else has taught the theory, or marking distance learning qualifications that aren’t necessarily NVQs, or maybe considering the progress of a member of staff who is undertaking an internal induction within an organisation… it can mean a lot of things. However what most of us think of when we think of an assessor is the person who comes into our workplace to put together a portfolio of evidence to show we are competent in our roles when we are completing an NVQ. With the increase in apprenticeships, assessor roles are rife and it’s a very attractive job. It can be really flexible; you generally manage your own diary; it’s varied and you’re usually doing something rewarding: helping someone to gain a qualification in an area in which you’re an expert. 
What hasn’t changed is the occupational competence you need to be an assessor. As the name suggests, this is your expertise (or near enough!) in the subject you want to assess. It’s unlikely you’d want to assess plumbing if you are an experienced bricklayer, but if you did want to, you’d need to build up your work experience in that first! Most organisations employing assessors want you to have an absolute minimum of 6 months of work experience in that area and, even better, a minimum of a level 3 qualification in it. That said, if you have 10 years’ management experience but no level 3 management qualification, you are unlikely to be sent away. 
“Have you done TAQA?” is a question you might be asked if you’re looking into assessing. The answer to that would be no, because TAQA is not a qualification. It stands for Training Assessment And Quality Assurance and is the name of the suite of assessment qualifications, rather than a qualification on its own. You don’t have to have completed all of the qualifications that are considered to be within TAQA to be an assessor. 
UPPA – The Level 3 Award in Understanding the Principles and Practices of Assessment. This is a knowledge-only unit, which means you don’t have to have a caseload to complete it. Until recently, we were offering this as a stand-alone qualification, but now it's included as one of the compulsory units in CAVA (more about this in a minute and I do not mean a refreshing sparkling wine) . If you have completed the Award in Education and Training you might have already done this unit, but it is unlikely because this unit is quite long, meaning that many providers (including us) tend to opt for the shorter unit in AET to keep costs low for the learner. For some providers, this unit won’t be enough on its own for you to assess for them. If you want to assess full NVQs, you’ll need additional courses, but for many organisations, this will be enough. For example, if you held this qualification and had occupational competence in leadership and management, you would be able to assess our level 3 Award or Certificate in Leadership and Management (accredited through OCNWMR). This unit alone would also be enough for you to assess non-NVQ qualifications – or non-accredited programmes – in some organisations. It’s also a really good one to do if you’re thinking about a career in assessing or your responsibilities at work now include guiding staff through in-house training or similar.  
CAVA – The Level 3 Certificate in Assessing Vocational Achievement. This is the full qualification if you want to be an NVQ assessor. It is competency and knowledge based so, most of the time, you will need to have a caseload already if you want to sign up to this course…which can be tricky if you need to have the qualification to assess…. however some providers may be able to give you some of their portfolios to work with. That’s certainly something to check. CAVA is the one that is most similar to the old A1 qualification. We are now offering this qualification, so if you think this might be the one for you, speak to us for some free advice and guidance.  
AVRA – The Level 3 Award in Assessing Vocationally Related Achievement. With this, you can assess vocational skills, knowledge and understanding. You wouldn’t normally be in the workplace assessing if you have this qualification: this is more for the assessment of theory and knowledge. It goes nicely with the next qualification… 
ACWE – The Level 3 Award in Assessing Competence in the Work Environment. This one qualifies you to assess learners in the work place and carry out competency-based assessments. This means you’d be working with a candidate in the workplace to collect evidence to show they can do their job to the standard required by the qualification or awarding body. You’d carry out observations but there’s more to assessing than just that.  
If you hold one of the old assessor qualifications, such as A1 or D32, these are still valid and you won’t need to complete any of the ones above. 
Excellent assessors are true motivators. Sometimes learners of any age don’t want to study the courses they’re on and adult learners often have a million and one other things to do when they’re not at work, so NVQ work can fall to the bottom of the pile. You might need to deliver training, so confidence and the ability to teach to a variety of learners with different learning styles and abilities is really important. The Award in Education and Training will help with that, if you don’t already hold it. You’ll also have to be amazing at admin (because there is loads of it) and be prepared to follow strict guidelines from the awarding body/bodies you’re working with. They’re the people who decide what the qualification should look like and what your candidate has to do to show competence. Then it’s your job to help your candidate to show that they have the skills and knowledge that the awarding body needs. 
An assessor can earn anything from £18k – over £30k: it depends how and what you assess. You could be part time, full time, freelance, contract, permanent… it can be truly flexible if you find the right organisation (and if you can’t find the right organisation, you can always create your own, of course…). 
If you’d like any further information about this or any career or course, please get in touch. We offer free advice and guidance and, if we don’t offer the course you’re looking for, we’ll help you find someone who does. 
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