Although it is the norm today for people to change direction a few times during their career, many are terrified of starting from scratch in a new field. For those people, there is a little-known option for further study - becoming a moderator or assessor - which will allow them to continue moving up the ladder, while also moving in an entirely new direction in their chosen field.
“There is a huge need for technically proficient and qualified professionals in a range of fields to supervise and train others in line with required standards. A moderator or assessor course is a quick and effective way to earn the credentials to move into this new line of work,” says Danette Heyns, Vice-Principal of Oxbridge Academy, which serves more than 20 000 South African distance learning students every year.
Assessors and moderators are required in almost all careers, but there is a particularly high and rising demand for these professionals in the education sector, says Heyns. She says it is also helpful to explain what they do, using education as an example.
“In the context of education, for instance, an assessor determines whether a learner or student is competent in relation to the criteria or outcomes for a particular unit standard or qualification on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). An assessor will be responsible for explaining the assessment process, as well as the required outcomes to the learner, assessing the learner’s competence, giving constructive feedback on the assessment to the learner, and recording the outcomes of the assessment,” she says.
But assessors and moderators are in demand in most fields and professionals such as auditors, estate agents and those in the banking sector often obtain these qualifications. Assessors and moderators are generally hired by skills development providers to assess unit standards and qualifications that are registered on the NQF.
“Skills development providers can include organisations that provide training to their employees in the workplace. Assessors and moderators can either work as employees of skills development providers, or they can work as independent contractors. If you already have a relevant diploma, degree, or occupational qualification, and you want to become a qualified assessor or moderator, you are literally able to qualify to do so within 3 months of study,” says Heyns.
She explains that moderators are those professionals who provide oversight over the work of assessors, and who are responsible for quality assurance in relation to the assessment process. This means that a moderator will make sure that learners are assessed in a consistent and well-designed manner and that assessments are carried out fairly. Moderators also handle appeals by dissatisfied learners and evaluate the performance of assessors while providing assistance where necessary.
“Becoming an assessor or moderator in your chosen field is a brilliant way to make yourself more employable and promotable,” says Heyns, “because you can build on your existing qualification without having to take years off for further study, or starting from the bottom in a new field.”
“In addition to improving your career prospects, being a qualified assessor or moderator also enables you to earn a parallel income because you can continue in your existing position while doing freelance work in your spare time. So, if you need a quick solution where you can leverage and build on your existing expertise, it is well worth a look at the current and potential future demand for assessors and moderators in your career.”