Q.A. Manager: Job Info and Requirements for a Career in Q.A. Management

Read on to learn what Q.A. managers do. Learn what kind of education and skills are required for employment. Get the details about the career outlook and earning potential to decide if this field is for you.

Career Definition for a Q.A. Manager

Q.A. managers implement and oversee programs designed to maintain the quality of products and/or services provided by a company. This may include testing products, inspecting manufacturing systems or plants, leading a team of quality assurance engineers, and developing best practices to ensure compliance with relevant regulations. Q.A. managers also spot-check their products and services through quality audits.

Education Bachelor's degree required, MBA programs also available
Job Skills Analytical skills, communication, knowledge of software, report writing
Median Salary (2015)* $93,940 for industrial production managers
Job Growth (2014-2024)* -4% for industrial production managers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Required

A bachelor's degree in an industry-related field is the minimum qualification for a Q.A. manager. For example, some schools offer bachelor's degree programs in quality assurance or manufacturing management that may be suitable for working in quality assurance. Graduate programs in business, such as the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program, can also prepare one for a quality assurance career. Some MBA programs have project management or supply chain management tracks that prepare students for careers as Q.A. managers. Additional quality assurance training and certifications are available from professional organizations, such as the American Society for Quality and the Project Management Institute.

Skills Required

It is essential for Q.A. managers to have excellent analytical skills and to be able to understand the step-by-step process required to manufacture or develop a product or service. Q.A. managers must have terrific communication skills because they are consistently communicating with their team and may be required to write reports on their quality assurance process. The ability to use quality assurance and project management software may also be required.

Economic and Career Outlook

Q.A. managers are part of the broader occupational category of industrial production managers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that in May 2015 the median annual salary for industrial production managers was $93,940. Those working in the chemical manufacturing industry had the highest median salary in 2015. The BLS also projected that the employment rate for industrial production managers would drop by 4% from 2014 to 2024.

Alternate Career Options

For other careers in industrial safety and engineering, consider the following:

Industrial Engineer

Industrial engineers work across a variety of fields, taking into account multiple factors with an eye toward reducing inefficiency in production, business administration, or other processes. They review production plans and specifications, human resources, quality control measures, environmental impacts, and workplace health and safety standards, among other concerns.

This job typically requires a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering or a related engineering specialty. While professional engineering licensure isn't always required, it can give an edge to job-seekers; it requires a combination of education, work experience, and testing.

According to the BLS, industrial engineers can expect 1% job growth from 2014-2024. The median pay rate in 2015 varied by area of employment; for example, per the BLS, industrial engineers who worked in aerospace product and parts manufacturing earned median pay of $94,960, while those who worked in motor vehicle parts manufacturing earned $76,190.

Health and Safety Engineer

A health and safety engineer develops systems that protect human health and property. Health and safety engineers review physical workplaces and occupational processes and procedures for possible dangers. They also investigates cases of work-related illness and accidental injury, from possible causes to future prevention.

Health and safety engineers have a bachelor's degree in an engineering specialty or a related field, like industrial hygiene; professional engineer licensing is required in some states, and to qualify, candidates need to meet education, work experience, and testing requirements. The BLS predicts that jobs in this field will increase 6% from 2014-2024, a rate that's the same as the average increase across all occupations during that same decade.

Health and safety engineers' median pay varied by field of employment. In 2015, those who worked in engineering services earned median pay of $91,220, and those who worked in construction earned median pay of $76,730.

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