What Is the Typical Job Description for a Quality Assurance Manager?

Research what it takes to become a quality assurance manager. Learn about education requirements, job duties, median wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Engineering Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Quality Assurance Manager?

QA managers make sure that products and services are safe for public use, meet standards set by the company and adhere to any required government regulations. Generally, as a QA manager, you'll oversee quality inspectors and testers that evaluate a variety of products, such as food, software or manufactured items. You will also discuss results of inspections with the product manufacturers. Consider the information in the following table to determine if a career as a quality assurance manager is right for you.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Training Required On-the-job training common
Key Skills Dexterity, math, mechanical, physical stamina, and technical skills
Certification Required Not required, but the American Society for Quality offers various certifications including Certified Quality Inspector
Projected Job Outlook (2014-2024) -4% for all industrial production managers*
Median Salary (2015) $93,940 for all industrial production managers*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will My Duties Be?

In a management position, you'll make sure that QA staff implement and follow quality control guidelines and policies. This ensures that the department meets its responsibilities in handling all product specifications safely and accurately. As a manager, you might provide testing services yourself, though you'll primarily act as a liaison between corporate offices and product development departments.

You'll also ensure that products or services meet any federal, state or local government safety or quality standards. Subordinate employees might perform the actual testing and inspecting the products and making necessary adjustments, but you will ultimately be responsible for their work. For example, if you oversee food inspectors,you'll need to be knowledgeable of specific regulations required to avoid food-borne illnesses and transmittable diseases. Because you're generally responsible for the quality and defects of the products made, it might be up to you to handle customer complaints and address any training issues with staff or corporate executives.

What Are the Job Requirements?

Since several industries, including manufacturing, medical, technology and agriculture, employ quality control techniques, your educational background can vary based on your professional interest. The most commonly requested degree level was a bachelor's degree, and ONet Online reports that 73% of quality control managers have bachelor's degrees. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that 66% of quality assurance inspectors and managers work in manufacturing, making an engineering major helpful in understanding fabrication and production processes (www.bls.gov). Although several employers preferred QA experience for management-level positions, some business administration courses could also provide an advantage for advancement.

Additionally, as a QA manager, you should have understanding of Total Quality Management (TQM) practices and techniques. TQM defines a set of guidelines aimed at advancing management policies so that business can be more productive and efficient. The guidelines form the basis of the quality management job philosophy. Several schools offer certificate and degree programs in business administration with courses in TQM.

What Kind of Salary Could I Make?

The BLS reported that all industrial production managers, including quality control systems managers, made an annual median salary over $93,940 as of 2015. The BLS predicted that jobs would decline by 4% between 2014-2024 for these professionals. As the manufacturing sector becomes more efficient, the need for hands-on workers decreases, leading to fewer jobs for industrial production managers in general.

What Are Some Similar Alternative Careers?

If you earned an engineering bachelor's degree in college, you could also pursue a career in your engineering specialty, like civil or mechanical engineering. If you have sufficient work experience, you may also be interested in finding a job in another management field. Another option involves working as a quality assurance inspector. These professionals check products for defects and write up reports on their findings. The job often requires little more than a high school diploma and on-the-job training, though postsecondary training is typically beneficial.

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