How Much Does an ASQ Certification Matter When Looking for a Job?

I am asked this all the time. First, it is important to look at the role and perception of the ASQ in the automotive industry and what achieving certification really means. We will then explore how much it can help you to land that dream job. Let’s start by looking at the ASQ itself and how it can help us all with raises and offers even if you are not a member. The best place to begin is with a useful tool: the annual salary survey the ASQ puts out every year in December. As you will see below, this data can help you get a raise or even a better offer.
I’ve written before about how the ASQ salary survey is skewed towards a higher dollar range than average. The reason for this is the same as what we find in Presidential elections. The per capita income of the average voter is substantially higher than the per capita income for the United States. The reason we all know is that people who participate in a democracy tend to have more skin in the game. A voter makes more money, is more involved in politics and does not feel totally disenfranchised from the political system. In short, they participate. In the ASQ salary survey, quality professionals have to pay to join (you should, even if your company is too cheap to sponsor you). Those that do so tend to be really dedicated to the society and to lifelong learning. Then the survey requires those participants who are conscientious enough to take the time, for the good of the ASQ, to fill out the form with their latest income data and then send it in. For even these, ‘do-gooders’ do you think some might fib ( just ever so slightly)? This is why the survey is a great tool for folks like you who ask for a bigger raise from your boss. It is powerful to bring empirical data to the table when your company is going to give you a miniscule 2% raise, and inform them this is not enough and here is why. They may have pay ranges and internal equity to deal with. However, it is hard for management to deal with the weight this ASQ data brings to the table due to their position as the governing body of our industry.
Just to be a member of the ASQ certainly tells something about any quality professional’s commitment to their chosen field and continual learning. It really speaks volumes, however, for any quality professional to pay for, study and then pass a certification test . I always tell my hiring managers when I present a candidate with a certification such as a CQE, “In a vacuum, we know at least one thing, that at one particular point in time when this test was taken, this candidate did not bluff their way through it.” We know definitively this person understands a significant chunk of the technical side of quality. The real question to ask. “Does a certification prove a person can can do the job at hand? Of course not. We all know that success in automotive quality is selling and not telling. There are many grey areas to navigate through on a day to day basis with people both in the plant and at the customer. Do we know this person has the people skills to persuade folks on the shop floor or expertly resolve customer issues to their satisfaction? No it doesn’t. So what does it mean?
We find that, as professional recruiters only working in the automotive quality field, a certification such as the CQE or CQM is almost never a ‘must have’ in our searches. Sometimes it is preferred, especially if the hiring manager is involved with the society. I also find many hiring managers might have been involved with the ASQ more in the past and not had much involvement in the recent years. In these cases, the certification is not pushed for obvious reasons. With other companies they are mentioned in passing or left out altogether from a written job description. Very rarely do I have a conversation with a hiring manager where there is any significant discussion about a certification or the need for one. There still are, however, important reasons to get the certification now.
Any ASQ certification does three things for you. It acts as a tie-breaker between two closely matched candidates in a hiring process. The certification also doubles as a technical reference check. Without having to speak with anyone, the certification says by default, “You know this aspect of quality from a technical standpoint and can perform under pressure.” The last thing the qualification does for you in an interview process is to elevate someone with an associate’s degree plus a CQE to (potentially) compete or be considered in a process where the bachelors degree was considered to be mandatory. This doesn’t happen every time. In the cases where A.Q.S. has placed a quality professional with an associates, however, the CQE was almost always there. The noteworthy result is in these cases: the hiring company almost always required the candidate with the associates to finish off their bachelors degree in the near future(usually with the help of the company).
My suggestion is that everyone in quality with a commitment to the profession should go for at least the CQE. The CQE is the gold standard. This is immediately recognizable as proof of your technical quality knowledge. For supervisors and managers, the CQM will sharpen your tool-set and act as a tie-breaker when you are interviewing with tough competition. Below are a couple of links for the requirements for the tests….and when you get that raise, I’ll only ask for 10%. Best of luck.