A lab quality assurance engineer is responsible for executing procedures that test the manufactured items to ensure that they come up to acceptable standards. Duties may entail checking materials or parts used in manufacturing and overseeing the manufacturing process. They may run tests on the completed items.
If difficulties arise during manufacturing, a lab quality assurance engineer may be part of the problem-solving process. They submit all documentation concerning quality control results and may train others in workmanship. They maintain, review, and revise quality standards and may help with development and redesign and updating user documentation.
In addition, they are responsible for logging all queries, problems, and requests for products they are testing and evaluating in their labs. Quality assurance engineers provide daily progress reports for companies, which include application notes, release notes, installation manuals, and procedures.
Lab quality assurance engineers generally need to have a bachelor's degree, possibly in a technology or engineering field. An employer generally prefers applicants who have some knowledge of the employer's business. Experience working in quality assurance is a plus.
Lab quality assurance engineers must have good oral and written communication and interpersonal skills and be able to quickly learn software tools. Engineers have to be able to work both independently and in a team environment.
Career and Economic Outlook
PayScale.com reported in January 2016 that the median salary for quality assurance engineers in general was $64,874. Specific employment outlook data for lab quality assurance engineers wasn't available. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a 2% decline in job opportunities for quality control systems managers for 2014 to 2024.
Alternate Career Options
There are some other options in quality control careers.
Health and Safety Engineer
One option is to become a health and safety engineer. Normally having a bachelor's degree in an engineering discipline, or possibly industrial or occupational hygiene, these engineers design systems and develop methods to prevent illness or injury caused by consumer products. From 2014-2024, the BLS anticipated average employment growth of 6% for health and safety engineers. As of May 2015, their annual median salary was $84,600, the BLS reported.
Quality Control Inspector
Another option is to become a quality control inspector. The education requirements for these inspectors vary, depending on the complexity of the products being tested, and may range from a high school diploma to an associate's degree in quality control management. Inspectors check materials and products, looking for any defects or non-compliance. No job growth was forecasted by the BLS between 2014 and 2024, and quality control inspectors earned median wages of $36,000 per year in 2015.
A lab quality assurance engineer maintains quality standards and needs to have a bachelor's degree in technology or engineering.