The Ultimate Guide to Becoming an Assessor
Throughout this Ultimate Guide to Becoming an Assessor, we will be looking at:
- What an Assessor does
- Who becomes an NVQ Assessor
- How to become an NVQ Assessor
- Different types of assessor qualifications
- What levels you can assess
- Occupational competence as an Assessor
By the end, we hope that you will have a clear understanding of the role, and be ready to start training for your new assessing career.
What does an Assessor do?
Becoming an NVQ Assessor is an extremely rewarding role, but as you may have discovered there are a lot of things to get your head around first. We want to make this less daunting for you, so let’s first look at the role of an assessor.
The main purpose of an Assessor is to observe learners in their workplace, providing support and guidance throughout their apprenticeship. You will be responsible for collecting evidence and assessing their abilities in order to help them gain their qualification.
Some of the tasks you will be responsible for as an NVQ Assessor will include:
- Plan and deliver NVQ training programmes and workshops
- Examine candidates’ portfolios of evidence
- Provide feedback and offer advice if the standards are not met
- Attend meetings with other assessors
- Keep records of candidates’ progress, according to the requirements of the NVQ awarding bodies.
You will be the main contact for your learner, and will build a strong working relationship with them. For many people, this is the best part of the job.
Who becomes an NVQ Assessor?
We have talked about this in quite a bit of detail in our ‘Who becomes an NVQ Assessor’ blog, but we will touch on this now. This is actually quite a common question we are asked by learners, so we carried out our own research. We found that our students fell into 5 main categories:
- The Battle Weary – when the physical aspect of the job gets too much, but you want to stay working within the industry.
- The Work-Life Balancers – many of our past learners trained to become an NVQ Assessor in order to gain a better work-life balance. Whether they needed more time to look after their children, or just simply wanted more flexibility with their schedule.
- The Knowledge Givers – some people are destined to become teachers, and this group of learners said that they wanted to share all of their knowledge to others.
- The Career Changers – this is pretty self-explanatory. This group of learners fancied a change in career and many were getting bored in their current role.
- The Second Incomers – this group of learners were money-incentivised. They wanted an extra stream of income, without giving up the day job.
How to become an NVQ Assessor
A quick Google search of ‘how to become an NVQ Assessor’ can leave you feeling very confused indeed. Let’s break this down for you. The two main things you need are: occupational competence and an appropriate Assessor qualification. Occupational competence needs to be in the industry you are wanting to assess in. This can be evidenced by qualifications and experience of working in a relevant role.
The most highly regarded Assessor qualification is the Level 3 Certificate in Assessing Vocational Achievement (CAVA). This qualification would make you a fully qualified Assessor, able to assess a learner’s occupational competence within a workplace. Upon completion of this course, you would be able to assess learners completing NVQs and Apprenticeships. Of course you must also have sufficient occupational competence too.
The Different Type Of Assessor Qualifications
There is so much information online about Assessor training, that sometimes it can become a very confusing topic. It can be very hard to determine the right assessor qualification for your requirements. Here at Brooks and Kirk, we like to break things down into small, manageable chunks without any confusing jargon.
So let’s have a look at the history of Assessor qualifications by taking it right back to the days of D Units. D32/D33 were the very first Assessor qualifications and were replaced many moons ago by the A1 Assessor Course
A1 Assessor Course
This was a single unit divided into four parts. It was the qualification for anyone involved with assessing learners taking NVQs (National Vocational Qualifications). This award was a programme of training in skills, techniques and principles of assessing competency. A variety of assessment methods were used, just as they are now.
In 2010, the A1 Award was replaced with a group of new qualifications, which are the current qualifications used now. They are made up of 3 units:
- Unit 1 – Understanding the principles and practices of assessment
- Unit 2 – Assessing occupational competence in the work environment
- and Unit 3 – Assessing vocational skills, knowledge and understanding
Together, these 3 units become the…
This qualification is the one that most employers are looking for. It’s also the one we would recommend if you are wanting to train as an Assessor. CAVA is the only qualification that will make you a fully qualified Assessor; allowing you to assess in a learning environment and a working environment. It consists of all 3 of the units above, so allows you to assess learners in any learning environment including classrooms, workshops and virtual classrooms.
Less Common Qualifications
There are three other qualifications that may crop up in your search for the right assessor qualification. These are:
This qualification is great for those who are already qualified Assessors and are looking to add to their CPD record. It is a knowledge-based unit that covers all of the theory behind the role and responsibilities of an Assessor. It is a standalone unit (Unit 1 from the list above).
This qualifies you to assess learners in their learning environment, but not in their place of work. It is broken down into two units (Units 1 and 3 on the list above). Therefore, as well as gaining insight into the roles and responsibilities of an Assessor you will also be required to carry out 3 assessments on 2 learners, where you will be observed by the assessors. In which you will need to attend a study day at your closest centre. You will assess the candidate’s knowledge and understanding of their role.
This is similar to AVRA; but instead it qualifies you to only assess learners at their place of work (not in their learning environment). It therefore consists of Units 1 and 2 above. You will be required to assess the occupational competence of 2 learners in their workplace. This will more than likely be via observation and one other method of assessment.
So there it is, a brief history lesson on Assessor training qualifications! It wasn’t that bad really was it? Throughout your research, you may also come across ‘TAQA’. This is not a qualification, but an umbrella term that covers all of the assessing and quality assurance qualifications. Hence why we haven’t included it within this guide.
What level can I assess after I have qualified?
If we had a pound for every time we were asked this question, let’s just say we wouldn’t be here. We would be setting sail in the sunny Mediterranean on our very own ship. Now isn’t that an idea?!
Back to being a bit more serious; the quick and easy answer to that question is that you can assess at any level you are occupationally competent to. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t quite as simple as that though. Firstly, you will need to have a look at the qualification specification of the specific awarding body. This will provide all the information you need to know about the qualification, including the ‘Requirements for Assessors’ who are delivering the course.
Do I need to be qualified to be occupationally competent?
In many qualification specifications, there is nothing to say that you must hold the respective qualification in order to assess it. It all depends on how occupational competence is defined by the awarding body. The learning provider themselves will determine whether an Assessor has sufficient occupational competence.
Things can start to get a bit confusing regarding being unqualified though. According to a specification, you may be eligible to assess the qualification; but any provider or college could deem you ineligible to assess the qualification for them. That is what makes this a really hard question to answer. The only way you can truly find out is by getting in touch with the learning provider directly.
Lots of experience, no qualification
For those who have been working in their sector for years and years, this is also a tricky one. Particularly if you don’t have any qualifications to back up your occupational competency. If you are both qualified and experienced in the field you are wanting to assess in, there will be plenty of job prospects for you. If, for example, you have 10 years of experience in a specific area but no qualifications, again it is best speaking with the individual training organisation.
We hope this has helped to clear things up a bit for you. It is a very confusing topic though; so if you would like some more clarification please give our team a call on 01205 805 155. We will be more than happy to run through your individual circumstances with you.
Steve is a Chartered Manager and a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute.
He provides Educational Consultancy to the 19+ sector as well as being an Assessor, IQA, EPA and Digital Marketing Professional. When not doing any of these he finds time, every now and then, to write blogs and articles.