What is a quality manager?
A quality manager holds an influential role within an organization, overseeing all activities and tasks required to maintain and enact a high level of quality. The role isn’t industry-specific; it spans multiple sectors, from manufacturing to services, technology, healthcare, and food production. They help businesses ensure their products or services meet necessary standards and consumer expectations while complying with relevant laws and regulations. By enforcing quality standards and processes, a quality manager contributes positively to a company’s reputation and financial performance.
Duties and responsibilities
A quality manager is responsible for establishing quality control procedures while ensuring that production and service operations abide by these. They devise, implement, and update an organization’s quality management system (QMS), and coordinate and perform regular audits and system-level inspections. This role often includes monitoring the performance of quality control systems and spotting areas for improvement. They also respond to complaints about quality and coordinate with teams to find and implement solutions. Developing procedures to track and report quality metrics may also be part of their duties.
The work environment for a quality manager depends on the employer and industry in which they operate. They might work in an office, a manufacturing plant, or a laboratory setting, based on whether they are in service, manufacturing, or research-based organizations. Their role often requires interaction with different departments within the organization, such as manufacturing, research and development, and customer service. They also engage with customers, suppliers, and regulatory auditors.
Typical work hours
Quality managers typically observe standard business hours from Monday to Friday, approximately 40 hours a week. However, there may be occasional need for weekend shifts, late-night work, or overtime. For instance, extended hours might be needed during audits or when addressing critical quality issues. Additionally, some industries, like manufacturing, often operate on shifts, which could impact the work hours of a quality manager in such environments.
How to become a quality manager
This career guide section outlines how to become a quality manager. Below, we highlight the primary steps, from education to certifications, internships, and work experience.
Step 1: Obtain a bachelor’s degree
Begin your journey to becoming a quality manager by earning a bachelor’s degree. While the degree doesn’t have to be in a specific field, it’s often beneficial to major in areas such as business or industrial management, engineering, manufacturing, or a field relevant to the industry in which you wish to work.
Step 2: Gain industry experience
It’s essential to work in your chosen industry to understand its practices, regulations, and standards. For instance, a quality manager in the food production sector might work as an assistant in a food safety lab or as a line supervisor in a manufacturing plant to familiarize themselves with the sector’s unique requirements.
Step 3: Pursue a master’s degree in quality assurance (optional)
A master’s degree in quality assurance or a related field can provide you with advanced knowledge and skills, increasing marketability for potential employers. Though this step is optional, it can give you a significant advantage in the competitive job market.
Step 4: Obtain professional certifications
Receiving certification from a trusted organization, such as the American Society for Quality (ASQ), can better prepare you for a quality management position. ASQ offers various certifications, including the Certified Quality Auditor (CQA) and the Certified Quality Engineer (CQE) certifications, which show your high-level understanding of quality principles and practices.
Step 5: Gain managerial experience
Before stepping into the role of a quality manager, you need to gain experience managing teams and projects. This often involves working as a supervisor or manager in areas like production or operations within your industry of choice. This managerial experience can enhance your leadership, problem-solving, and decision-making abilities – vital skills for a quality manager.
Step 6: Apply for jobs
Once you have the necessary education, certifications, and experience, it’s time to apply for quality manager positions. Craft a robust resume and cover letter highlighting your qualifications, certifications, relevant skills, and experience.
How much do quality managers make?
Quality manager salaries will vary by experience, industry, education, location, and organization size. The complexity of the quality management systems they oversee is a significant factor in total compensation.
Highest paying industries
- Pharmaceuticals – $102,890
- Manufacturing – $98,300
- Aerospace – $97,500
- Technology – $96,720
- Healthcare – $95,400
Highest paying states
- California – $105,125
- New Jersey – $102,891
- Washington – $100,880
- Massachusetts – $99,600
- New York – $98,320
Types of quality managers
This career guide section focuses on the various career types and areas of specialization for quality managers. Below, we highlight the unique attributes and responsibilities of each job title.
Quality assurance manager
Quality assurance (QA), managers establish and maintain processes to ensure consistent product quality. They also draft quality assurance policies and manage a team that tests and inspects products for defects. These managers work in a variety of sectors, including manufacturing, technology, and pharmaceuticals.
Process quality manager
Process quality managers oversee continual process improvement activities within a company. Their role is instrumental in decreasing waste and inefficiency by implementing verified process standards and procedures. These professionals often find opportunities in manufacturing industries.
Quality system manager
Quality system managers focus on planning, establishing, and maintaining quality management systems in line with regulatory standards, such as ISO 9001. Their role usually involves conducting internal audits, providing training, and ensuring the company’s compliance with quality system requirements.
Product quality manager
Specializing in quality management for a product line or a specific set of products is the primary responsibility of product quality managers. These professionals play a critical role in certifying that the products meet regulatory and consumer standards, and they may also assist in product development to ensure quality from the initial stages.
Supply quality manager
A supply quality manager role could be a good fit for individuals interested in logistics and supply chain processes. They are in charge of ensuring all incoming materials and components from vendors meet established quality standards, encompassing everything from part inspection to supplier certification.
Top skills for quality managers
This section outlines the primary skills and traits needed for career success as a quality manager – including a blend of technical skills and interpersonal traits.
Understanding of industry standards and regulations
A sound knowledge of industry-specific standards and regulations is paramount for quality managers. This familiarity allows them to ensure that all products or services comply with internal and external requirements, benefiting the company and its customers.
Quality managers utilize analytical skills to interpret complex data and propose solutions. By using problem-solving capabilities, they can intelligently analyze the consistency and quality of outputs, envision possible issues, and create strategies to mitigate potential defects.
Leadership and team management
The ability to lead and manage is essential in this role, as implementing quality standards requires the collaborative effort of a team. The capacity to direct team members, delegate tasks, and encourage a collaborative work environment can greatly impact the effectiveness of a quality manager.
Since the job often involves briefing teams or stakeholders about the company’s quality standards, clear and effective communication skills are a key part of the role. Excellent communication helps secure understanding and buy-in from all involved parties and improves compliance with established quality standards.
Attention to detail
To effectively uphold high standards of quality, having an eye for detail is imperative. It allows quality managers to spot the smallest inconsistencies that may compromise the product or service’s quality, thereby allowing early intervention and prevention of potential flaws.
Quality manager career path
There are several paths for a quality manager to consider when looking at career progression. With experience spearheading quality operations and managerial acumen, the opportunities to advance increase. These paths are varied and hinge on several factors, including individual interests, goals, and the industry itself.
One path might be to progress into roles with more responsibility, including positions such as director of quality management or even a corporate quality executive. These roles involve higher-level strategic planning, overseeing several teams or departments, and, likely, representing your company at industry groups or regulatory agencies.
Many managers may find their skills and experience transferable to other managerial roles within their company. Because they intimately understand processes, regulatory compliance, and continuous improvement, areas such as operations, production, or project management might be a natural fit. Managers in these areas are typically responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations, coordinating employees, and ensuring efficiency, so there are similarities with the quality manager role.
Another option could be transitioning into a consulting role, helping other organizations improve their quality processes and systems. If you enjoy traveling, problem-solving, and the challenge of continually working on different projects, this could be an intriguing path. Typical duties include conducting audits, developing customized quality systems, providing training, and advising senior management on strategic decisions.
Lastly, training and development or education could be avenues to consider. Vast working knowledge of industry standards, process improvement methods, and best practices makes quality managers prime candidates for these roles. Whether it’s teaching the next generation, creating a curriculum, or developing employee training programs, your expertise can be shared and used to boost the quality standards industry-wide.
Similar job titles
Position trends and outlook for quality managers
In manufacturing and services, quality managers play a significant role in maintaining standards and driving continuous improvement. One major trend seen in this area is the increasing use of technology. Digital quality management systems (QMS) have become a norm in modern businesses, simplifying maintaining compliance with regulatory standards. These technologies allow quality managers to collect real-time data, facilitate effective communication, and ensure seamless tracking of quality trends.
Growth in consumer awareness has also generated an increasing concern for quality. As businesses strive to meet high customer expectations, the role of quality management has evolved to encompass customer satisfaction. This trend asks managers to change their defined borders, impelling them to engage directly with customers and their feedback to drive improvements.
Moving beyond traditional roles, many managers have become instrumental in incorporating sustainability strategies in business processes. Businesses are progressively recognizing the value of sustainable practices and are intertwining quality management with their sustainability goals.
According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for quality managers is expected to remain unchanged. The exact rates of growth will, however, vary by industry as innovations and fluctuations in population cause needs to change.
Quality manager career tips
Navigate regulations and standards
Understanding your industry or product’s specific regulations and quality standards is instrumental to success. Staying on top of these rules will help maintain your organization’s compliance and avoid costly fines or legal issues. Constant awareness of the changing laws and standards will guide you in updating the company’s policies and procedures effectively.
Integrate quality into the organization’s culture
As a quality manager, influencing the organization’s culture to prioritize quality is a game changer. Drive the belief that quality is not just the responsibility of the quality department but of everyone in the company. Champion quality initiatives at all levels and ensure it becomes embedded in all processes, decisions, and actions.
Implement continuous improvement
The constant pursuit of improvement is a valuable strategy for a quality manager. Always look for areas to strengthen, streamline, or make more efficient. This involves developing a system for measuring and evaluating the company’s quality operations so you can identify areas for improvement.
Build a professional network
Expanding your network with other professionals in the quality management field allows for an exchange of experiences, insights, and the latest best practices. It also opens opportunities for collaborative projects and professional advancement.
- American Society for Quality
- The International Society for Quality in Health Care
- Society for Quality Assurance
Engage in continuous learning
Quality management is an evolving discipline with new methodologies and technologies emerging frequently. To stay ahead, you should commit to lifelong learning. Engaging in relevant training, workshops, and courses will enrich your knowledge and skills.
- Certified Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence (ASQ)
- Lean Six Sigma Certification
- Total Quality Management (TQM) Certification
- International Quality Management System Standards (ISO 9001) Course
Where the quality manager jobs are
- Procter & Gamble
- Johnson & Johnson
- New Jersey
Top job sites
What skills does a quality manager need to excel in their job?
A quality manager should possess strong leadership abilities, effective communication skills, and a detailed understanding of process management and strategic planning. Analytical thinking and problem-solving abilities are highly beneficial given the nature of the role. It’s also important to have an eye for detail and a strong capacity for critical evaluation.
What does a typical workday look like for a quality manager?
A typical day might involve reviewing quality standards, overseeing testing procedures, managing a team of quality control inspectors, and attending meetings. Since this role involves ensuring products meet certain standards, quality managers must regularly engage in problem-solving, team collaboration, and planning to maintain and improve that quality continually.
Are there any particular industry sectors where quality managers are in higher demand?
The role of a quality manager is critical to many industries but they are especially in high demand within manufacturing, food production, pharmaceuticals, and any other industry where a product’s quality is paramount. Any industry that needs to adhere to strict guidelines and regulations for quality and safety will likely need a quality manager.
What kind of educational background is required for a quality manager?
Generally, employers prefer quality managers with a bachelor’s degree in business management, quality assurance, or a related field. Some positions may require a master’s degree. Additionally, many companies value quality managers with certifications from recognized institutions that affirm the individual’s knowledge and skills in quality management.
What are some common challenges a quality manager might face in their role?
Quality managers often face challenges like maintaining compliance with changing regulations, implementing new tools and technologies, training and supervising employees, and managing risks. They also face the challenge of continuously maintaining and improving quality in a competitive environment where internal and external expectations constantly evolve.
What tools and software do quality managers usually use in their daily work?
Quality managers use various software tools, including statistical process control programs, quality control software, and data analysis tools. Document management systems and project management programs can also be common. The exact tools a quality manager uses can vary widely depending on the industry and specific company.
How does the role of a quality manager differ from a quality assurance manager?
While the roles may seem similar, there is a distinct difference. A quality manager has a broader scope, as they oversee the overall quality process and create quality policies for the entire company. On the other hand, a quality assurance manager typically focuses on the testing procedures that ensure a product or service meets certain criteria before it is marketed or sold.
What kind of personality traits are usually seen in successful quality managers?
Successful quality managers are detail-oriented, decisive, and have strong organizational skills. They are methodical in their approach to work and have an analytical mindset, which helps them scrutinize processes and identify areas for improvement. The ability to work well under pressure and excellent communication skills to liaise with different departments are also valuable traits.
Can a quality manager work remotely, or do they need to be on-site?
Depending on the nature of the business and the scope of the role, a quality manager could work remotely. However, given the nature of their responsibilities, which often include overseeing product testing and working closely with production teams, many quality managers will need to be on-site at least some of the time.