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Quality Assurance Specialist Duties and Responsibilities
Quality assurance specialists work in a variety of organizations. Specific duties and responsibilities may vary, but there are several core tasks associated with the job, including:
Identify and Resolve Production Issues In some industries, quality assurance specialists perform quality tests during production to identify and correct any work-in-progress issues. They create and implement monitoring processes and ensure that production employees are adhering to standards and safety guidelines.
Conduct Product Testing and Audits Quality assurance specialists also perform routine inspections of finished products to check for defects and other problems before these products are shipped for distribution. They identify problems, separate defective products from non-defective products, create audit reports, and record corrective procedures to resolve product non-compliance.
Document Product Tests and Corrections Once a product has been tested and found defective, quality assurance specialists meet with superiors to address issues and discuss resolutions. They maintain records of product tests and defects and summarize corrective actions taken.
Evaluate Production Operations Quality assurance specialists observe production operations and make suggestions for improvements to minimize errors and defects in products.
Create Training Materials They also create operation manuals and training materials that outline operation processes and any updates to procedures or practices within the manufacturing or production process.
Quality Assurance Specialist Skills and QualificationsDetail-oriented individuals with analytical minds and strong communication skills make great quality assurance specialists. Employers tend to seek candidates for this position who demonstrate the following:
- Technical Skills - Understanding quality assurance as well as production technologies and systems is crucial in this role
- Computer Skills - Knowledge of Microsoft Office Suite programs, such as Word and PowerPoint, is necessary for QA specialists to produce documents, reports, and presentations
- Commercial Awareness - These specialists must be experts in industry standards impacting inspection and quality control techniques and procedures
- Communication Skills - Strong oral and written communication skills for making presentations, explaining quality improvement plans, and producing testing and quality assurance reports is necessary for this profession
- Attention to Detail - The ability to detect issues from among many products and review every aspect of production operation calls for a keen eye for details
- Team-Oriented - QA specialists work closely with quality control managers, production workers, quality engineers, inspectors, and other personnel
- Analytical Skills - Analyzing production processes and applying this skill to the inspection of products is central to this role
- Time Management - Most companies strive for quick turnaround from the detection of a product defect to implementation of viable solutions, so these specialists produce results in a timely manner
Quality Assurance Specialist Education and TrainingMost employers require only a high school diploma for those seeking to become a quality assurance specialist, though education requirements can vary depending on the industry. For instance, quality assurance specialists working for technological or software development companies may be required to hold at least a two-year degree in computer science or computer engineering. A bachelor's degree is often required to advance in this field. In many cases, these professionals will receive on-the-job training to learn inspection procedures and the use of any automated equipment.
Quality Assurance Specialist Salary and OutlookThe Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the median annual salary for quality assurance specialists is just over $37,000. Those specialists earning in the lowest 10th percentile make about $22,500, while top earners receive a median annual wage of over $64,000. QA specialists working in the technical field tend to make the highest median annual wage at $40,000, followed by those in manufacturing at nearly $38,000 per year. QA specialists typically receive medical benefits, vacation leave, retirement plans, paid holidays, and in some cases, bonuses. The BLS predicts an 11 percent decline for this profession over the next decade or so, as some companies incorporate automated systems to conduct quality control inspections and tests. Growth, however, could be seen in industries that cannot rely on automated quality control inspections.
Want to learn more about what it takes to become and find success as a quality assurance specialist? If so, check out the following texts and organizations to help you explore this occupation:
Society of Quality Assurance (SQA) - Quality assurance specialists and other quality control professionals can benefit from training webinars, live training sessions, quality assurance conferences, access to publications, and reviews of regulatory resources as members of the SQA.
Quality Assurance: Applying Methodologies for Launching New Products, Services, and Customer Satisfaction (Practical Quality of the Future) - This book outlines the best approaches and practices as defined in the continual improvement (CI) process, by which an organization can help ensure that they are producing the highest quality and most satisfying products for their employees.
Quality Assurance: Philosophies, Methods, and Technologies - Any QA specialist who wants to review effective inspection techniques, explore basic quality assurance tools, and understand the statistics associated with quality assurance turn to this introductory book.
American Society for Quality (ASQ) - From personal certification to recent quality assurance news, ASQ brings together QA professionals from more than 130 countries. Networking, world conferences, a learning institute, and professional publications are just a few of resources quality assurance specialists enjoy as members of ASQ.
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