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How to Become a Quality Assurance Specialist

Do you want a job that’s fulfilling and fun at the same time? If so, this may be the perfect fit for you. As a quality assurance specialist, you’ll get to perform inspections and tests, help fix different production issues, present insightful solutions, follow the company’s quality assurance protocols, and ensure that safety regulations are being met. To succeed in this position, proficient problem-solving skills, excellent decision-making skills, and strong analytical skills are needed. You’ll be working with products and making sure they are up to a high standard, so you should have great attention to detail to spot any flaws. If you love working with products and can tell one mistake from the other easily,  this could be the perfect position for you.

Sample job description

[Your Company Name] is seeking an absolutely amazing quality assurance specialist who loves people as much as they love spreadsheets! You’ll be deeply involved in a collaborative team environment, helping to support and supply our other positions with support in checking their work for accuracy to maximize their production potential. If you have a positive, can-do attitude, a creative spirit, and enjoy serving others, this will be one of the most fulfilling jobs you have ever had! As an ideal candidate, you are detail-oriented and have proven experience developing and implementing quality assurance procedures, conducting tests and inspections, identifying issues, and presenting reliable solutions.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Developing and implementing quality assurance policies and procedures
  • Performing routine inspections and quality tests
  • Identifying and resolving workflow and production issues
  • Ensuring that standards and safety regulations are observed
  • Discussing issues and proposed solutions with superiors
  • Documenting quality assurance activities and creating audit reports
  • Creating training materials and operating manuals
  • Complying with the company’s quality assurance standards

Education and experience

  •  High school diploma/GED required.
  • Bachelor’s degree preferred.
  • Previous experience in quality assurance or a similar field.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Strong analytical skills
  • Excellent problem-solving and decision-making skills
  • Outstanding verbal and written communication skills
  • Knowledge of quality assurance terminology, methods, and tools

Preferred qualifications

  • Experience implementing corrective action 
  • Experience with data analysis tools and statistical analysis
  • Works well with a team

Typical work environment

Typically, quality assurance specialists work in an office environment and may be required to work overtime during evenings and weekends in order to meet certain deadlines. Some quality assurance specialists work remotely. However, most are required to be present in the office. Quality assurance specialists need to be comfortable working with others as they generally will be working in teams for the majority of the day. Quality assurance specialists spend a lot of their time seated in front of a computer analyzing information and solving problems.

Typical hours

The typical work hours for a quality assurance specialist are during normal business hours between 8 AM and 5 PM. They do sometimes have to work after hours and weekends in emergency situations or to meet upcoming deadlines.

Available certifications

Quality assurance representatives work in a variety of industries, and many institutions offer certifications to help professionals in this field further their careers. Here are some of the top certifications for a quality assurance specialist: 

  • Six Sigma Certifications. Six Sigma is a methodology used to improve processes and performance in a wide range of industries. The certification program consists of solving problems by proving they exist, identifying the root cause, and fixing the problems so they stay fixed. Six Sigma certified professionals are able to utilize statistical analysis to increase efficiency and reduce waste. The Six Sigma certification is made up of six levels (white belt through black belt) that progressively signify the level of skill, experience, and knowledge of Six Sigma principles a quality assurance professional has. There are no eligibility requirements for any of the certifications except for the black belt level. 
  • Certified Quality Engineer (CQE). The CQE certification program is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and proves you have the knowledge and ability required to use statistical analysis when diagnosing and fixing poor quality control practices. You have the skills to develop, analyze, and apply testing procedures, and to operate quality control systems. The program familiarizes students with quality cost concepts and techniques and provides them with the knowledge and ability to develop and administer management information systems. To earn this credential, you must have at least 8 years of on-the-job experience, and 3 years of that must be in a decision-making position. 
  • Certified Quality Auditor (CQA). The CQA certification, also administered by the NCCA, demonstrates that a quality assurance professional understands the standards and principles of auditing and the auditing techniques of examining, questioning, evaluating, and reporting to determine a quality system’s adequacy and deficiencies. Certified CQAs are qualified to evaluate a quality system and determine whether it adheres to the required criteria. Candidates must have worked in a full-time, paid role for 8+ years in the quality auditing field, and 3 years must be in a position where the candidate defined, executed, or controlled processes and was responsible for the outcome. 

Career path

Although you don’t generally need a bachelor’s degree to become a quality assurance specialist, many quality assurance professionals have earned one. A few have master’s degrees. A degree in business management or the computer sciences fields with a focus on chemistry, biology, mathematics, quality inspection, auditing, and quality testing is helpful. 

Some quality assurance specialists start as interns to gain practical experience before working in an assistant quality assurance role. Quality assurance professionals work in many industries. The career path is a wide one as you might work in food quality control for several years and then switch to another industry, such as pharmaceuticals, using the same skillset. Quality assurance specialists can advance to positions such as quality manager, quality engineer, quality director, or assurance manager.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 51-9061

2020 Employment557,900
Projected Employment in 2030489,800
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 12% decrease
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift68,100 decrease

Some major trends in quality assurance include designing and implementing more cost-effective quality assurance processes, developing adaptable processes that need to be able to change with unexpected turns and crises, and a focus on global risk management. Quality assurance specialists will need to quickly identify threats against quality assurances and apply solutions to counteract them. New tools and processes are continually being developed to enhance efficiency in quality management. Staying up to date is crucial to avoid gaps in quality assurance systems.