How to Become an NVQ Assessor? | 2018 Version

how to become an NVQ assessor

Who knew one question could have so many answers! Trying to find out what you need to become an NVQ Assessor can be hard work. Especially when every job vacancy and training provider says differently. But that hard work ends here… If you want to find out how to become an NVQ Assessor, all you need to do is read on. 

How to Become an NVQ Assessor?

What you need to become an NVQ assessor will vary based on the prospective employer and the qualification you are looking to assess. However, generally speaking, to become an NVQ Assessor, you need two things. These are occupational competence and the appropriate assessor qualification.

In addition to that, any assessor jobs that state assessment experience is required, will also likely require you to have an up to date CPD record. 

Just in case you would prefer a more visual answer to that question.

We hope that has helped! So that’s all you need from us, surely? If only…

Unfortunately, it’s not that straight forward for everyone. So let’s break that answer down into two parts and take a look at each part in more detail.   

Occupational Competence 

It almost goes without saying, but you need to be experienced in the field that you are looking to assess in. Experience of working within a certain industry and any qualifications or courses you have completed whilst working in that industry can both be used to evidence your level of occupational competence. Obviously, for anyone that has been working in in a certain role for over 5 years and has either achieved a level 3 or 5 NVQ, there shouldn’t be any issues with being able to provide prospective employers with occupational competence evidence. In fact, it would make sense for you to skip to the second part of the process for becoming an NVQ assessor; and that is finding the appropriate assessor qualification

If, on the other hand, you think you may be short on experience or qualifications; then you’ve got more to learn. 

What does Occupational Competence look like?

The most important form of occupational competence is undoubtedly experience of working within relevant job roles. And yes, ideally, you should have qualifications to back up that experience. However, if you haven’t, not to worry. As this isn’t always a necessity.

At this point, you may be thinking;

Hold on! Are you sure? When I type ‘How to Become an NVQ Assessor?’ into Google and search assessor jobs, everyone says that I need at least a Level 3 NVQ?

So, I want to clarify something quickly. No, you don’t HAVE to hold an NVQ, BTEC or even a degree to be eligible for an assessor job. Granted, a lot (but not all) of assessor job vacancies do say that you need a qualification. But that is because it is down to the individual employer to decide what they require their assessors to have to be deemed ‘occupationally competent’. You see, all that learning providers need to be concerned with is ensuring their assessors meet the requirements set out by the relevant awarding body (City and Guilds, Pearson Edexcel, Highfield etc).

The problem is, most awarding bodies’ qualification specifications have incredibly subjective requirements for assessors. They say things like;

Assessors must:

“have substantial operational experience that is current and appropriate to the unit(s) of NVQ/SVQ they are intending to assess.”

“be capable of carrying out the full requirements within the competency units they are assessing. This occupational competence should be maintained annually through clearly demonstrable continuing learning and professional development.”

Soooooo, in terms of requirements; what does that tell you exactly? Not a great deal! I have quoted those straight from specifications for the Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Hairdressing and Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Construction respectively. As you can see, it is pretty much left down to the training provider or college to decide what is acceptable. This means that whilst one training provider might decide that you’re not occupationally competent, another might say that you are. 

A general rule of thumb

Hopefully this has helped you to see the answer to; ‘How to become an NVQ assessor’ isn’t as simple as you may have first thought! But, we want to give you some kind of idea as to where you stand with being able to become an assessor. So, if you have:

  • Picked up at least 2 years experience working in a certain industry;
  • A good command of the English language and ideally have some form of Maths and English qualifications (GCSEs or Functional Skills);
  • Undertaken accredited vocationally related training;

… Then you will be deemed occupationally competent by most employers. So all that’s left for you to do before you can start applying for assessor jobs is to complete the appropriate assessor qualification

Assessor Qualifications

Ahh now, this part is far easier to advise on. You just need to get an assessor course under your belt and you are good to go. Presumably, we just need to take a look at the qualification(s) that all of the assessor jobs are asking for? So, for the purpose of this post, I searched ‘assessor jobs’ online and looked at the first 5 that I came across. Here are all of the terms I came across referring to the required assessor qualification:

  • D32/33
  • D Units
  • A1/A2
  • A1 Award
  • TAQA
  • CAVA
  • Formal Assessing Qualification
  • Assessor Award


Where do I start with this! Unfortunately, as you have probably witnessed for yourself, trying to find the name of the assessor qualification you need can be an absolute nightmare. But it doesn’t need to be; I’m going to explain what A1, D32/33 and TAQA all mean. But first, I am going to clearly talk you through the current assessor qualifications, so that you know which assessor qualification you need to become an NVQ Assessor. 

Current Assessor Qualifications

There are four current assessor qualifications to choose from. As I don’t like to beat around the bush, I’ll start with the most popular and highly regarded assessor qualification of the bunch…

Level 3 Certificate in Assessing Vocational Achievement (CAVA)

The CAVA is a 3-Unit qualification. In a nutshell, this qualification would make you a fully-qualified assessor. Upon completion of this qualification, you would be qualified to assess a learner’s occupational competence within a workplace. But on top of this, you would also be able to assess vocationally related knowledge and skills in learning environments. These learning environments could include classrooms, online learning systems, workshops and simulated environments, for example. 

Level 3 Award in Assessing Competence in the Work Environment (ACWE)

This assessor qualification comprises 2 of the 3 units that are covered in the CAVA. The unit that the ACWE leaves out is the one that would qualify you to assess a learner’s vocational knowledge and skills outside of the work environment. So, if you only are only interested in being able to assess occupational competence, then the Level 3 ACWE will be ideal for you.

Level 3 Award in Assessing Vocationally Related Achievement (AVRA)

Again, this Level 3 Assessor Award is also only 2 of the 3 units from the CAVA. If we were to tell you that the theory-based unit from the 2 aforementioned qualifications appears in all 4 assessor courses, you don’t need to be any Sherlock Holmes to work out what the AVRA is all about… This assessor course would only qualify you to assess a learner’s vocational knowledge and skills in learning environments. 

Level 3 Award in Understanding the Principles and Practices of Assessment (UPPA)

Finally, we have the UPPA. This single-unit assessor qualification does not qualify you to assess learners whatsoever. Given that you are probably reading this because you are looking to become an NVQ assessor, I can assure you that this course isn’t going to be the one for you. Whilst at first it can sound pretty strange and useless as an assessor qualification, the UPPA has its purposes. If you had previously qualified as an assessor and you needed a refresher course to bring your CPD record up to date, this would be the one. 

Your Next Step

I appreciate that is a lot to take in, so here’s a brief recap; to become an NVQ assessor, you need to be experienced and ideally, qualified in the area you wish to assess. In addition to this, you will also need to have, or be working towards, the appropriate assessor qualification. This would more than likely be the CAVA or the ACWE. 

Now that you know this, what’s your next step? Well, for anyone without an assessor qualification, getting one of the above added to your CV would be your starting point. Alternatively, if you are already a qualified assessor, then you just need to find yourself a job! FE Careers have got hundreds of Assessor Jobs live right now, so that would be your next port of call. 

BUT WAIT! Before you go anywhere, there’s one final matter that we haven’t gone over yet. I mentioned earlier about how quite a few assessor jobs say that you need the ‘D32/33’, ‘A1 Award’ or the ‘TAQA’? Well, I still need to address what each of these are so that you don’t think that I have given you useless information. So, without further ado…

Making Sense of Assessor Jobs

Old Assessor Qualifications

I’m not going to bore you to death with a history lesson. After all, you’re not going to be completing an old assessor qualification to become an assessor! But I just want to make sure that you can make sense of all those pesky, confusing assessor vacancies…

D Units – D32/D33

This was the very first assessor qualification.

National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) were created in the 1980s. So, by the time we got to the year 2001, a lot had changed with both the structure of NVQs and the way that they were regulated. This meant that there needed to be a change in the training that assessors received as well. This is where the A1 and A2 qualifications come in. 

A1 Award

Although you will often see the ‘A1 Award’ mentioned on job applications, there was actually 2 units you could do. These were:

  • A1 – Level 3 Award in ‘Assess candidates using a range of methods’
  • A2 – Level 3 Award in ‘Assess candidates’ performance through observation’

Fast forward to 2010 and the introduction of the Qualification Credit Framework (which is no longer in use); this meant that another change was needed. Cue…

The Troublesome ‘TAQA’

The very first thing I will say is, notice how ‘The Troublesome TAQA’ is a sub-heading in itself. And that is because ‘TAQA’ is not a qualification… DER DER DERRRR. I know, it may look like it from what you may have seen on assessor jobs, but it quite simply isn’t. 

TAQA stands from Training, Assessment and Quality Assurance. It is the name that is given to the suite of Assessor qualifications I went through earlier (CAVA, ACWE, AVRA, UPPA) and the Internal Quality Assurance qualifications. So, you can do a qualification from within the TAQA suite, but you cannot do ‘a TAQA’. 

If you are still slightly confused, you might benefit from having a quick read up on what TAQA is

Now you know how to become an NVQ Assessor and what assessor jobs are really asking for. Good luck with gaining your assessor qualification and finding your ideal job!

2 thoughts on “How to Become an NVQ Assessor? | 2018 Version

  • May 31, 2019 at 2:33 am

    This was a very good information session for me,please forward me the institutions i can engage to start with my NVQ assessor in the electrical field.

    • May 31, 2019 at 11:32 am


      Thank you for leaving your comment. I have sent you an email about working as an NVQ Assessor in the Electrical field. Please check your spam/junk folder if you can’t see my email in your inbox.

      I look forward to hearing from you.

      Kind Regards


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