Degree programs in quality assurance typically give students the tools to properly inspect and evaluate products. While quality control inspectors usually need some vocational and on-the-job training, a bachelor's degree can prepare them for compliance officer and specialist positions. A master's degree trains graduates to manage an organization or company's quality control and safety systems.
Bachelor of Science in Quality Assurance
In a bachelor's degree program in quality assurance, students can gain knowledge in the laws regulating industries such as health care, pharmaceutical manufacturing, engineering and biological science research. They can analyze the effectiveness of company policies, making improvements where needed. Students can also take part in simulations or real-world audits, reviews and random samples.
Students can be expected to complete general education coursework to comply with university degree requirements. This could include classes in social science, math, natural science and English. Courses within the quality assurance program can include:
- Quality economics
- Systems of quality
- Operations and production
Master of Science in Quality Assurance
These degree programs usually takes two years to complete, during which time students can learn to design and implement safety procedure systems and recognize issues that arise due to human factors in production.
Quality assurance master's degree programs typically involve classroom learning that culminates in independent research. Students may be expected to analyze data and compile statistics. They may run simulations that recreate real-world scenarios, or be given the opportunity to observe an organization's production line to study sampling methods and potential human error factors. Programs can be offered as an interdisciplinary option, allowing students to become familiar with a variety of industries. Course topics could include:
- Production quality
- Human factors
- Organizational procedures
- Inspection procedures
- Cost and supply
- Legality and ethics
Popular Career Options
Graduates of a master's degree in quality assurance degree program are typically qualified to work in managerial positions for companies and organizations that must adhere to quality assurance laws and regulations. Because of the variety of industries impacted by quality and safety regulatory systems, job opportunities for qualified individuals are also varied. Graduates of these programs can explore a multitude of career pathways, such as employment in the medical, automotive, aerospace, agricultural and food handling industries. Some job titles could include:
- Regulatory compliance officer
- Occupational safety and health specialist
- Pharmaceutical inspection manager
- Aerospace product regulatory supervisor
Continuing Education and Certification Information
Graduates of a master's degree program in quality assurance are expected to be informed of the changing regulations in their given field. Most schools prepare students to take examinations for professional certifications administered by the American Society for Quality (ASQ), which can be a job requirement in this field. As graduates progress in their careers, they can take additional training programs offered by the ASQ. This can lead to certifications in various specializations of quality assurance, including Certified Reliability Engineer, Certified Quality Engineer, Certified Quality Manager and Certified Quality Auditor.
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about two-thirds of quality control inspectors work in manufacturing. The BLS also reports that compliance officers made an average yearly salary of $69,180 in 2015 (www.bls.gov). In the same year, occupational safety and health specialists made an average yearly salary of $71,790.
Quality assurance management degree programs train students in the procedures required to evaluate products or systems for safety, effectiveness, and legality. Graduates may work in a variety of fields, like pharmaceuticals, aerospace, or health and safety.