Many colleges and universities offer undergraduate and graduate certificates in quality assurance. Many of these certificate programs last a year or less. To get into an undergraduate program you will need a high school diploma or GED. Likewise, a graduate program requires a bachelor's degree. Graduates may qualify for certification through the American Society for Quality. Graduate certificates in quality assurance are designed for students with a bachelor's degree and may meet criteria for transfer into a master's program.
Undergraduate Certificate Programs in Quality Assurance
Certificate programs in quality assurance (QA) are offered by many community colleges and vocational schools. These certificate programs focus on the manufacturing, software, and service industries and prepare students for entry-level careers as quality inspectors or control technicians, or for taking a certification exam. Coursework for undergraduate quality assurance programs can vary based on the program's focus. For example, some quality assurance programs may address it as a general area of study, while others may focus on a specific field, such as industrial technology. Some common courses at the undergraduate level may include:
- Measurement science
- Quality planning
- Engineering technology
Graduate Certificate Programs in Quality Assurance
At the graduate level, programs in quality assurance can be offered in conjunction with the field of regulatory affairs. Some of these programs may be offered as regulatory affairs with quality assurance included in the field of study. While quality assurance programs at the undergraduate level may be focused on the specific, technical aspects of an organization, graduate programs may focus on broader areas, such as general day-to-day operations.
At the graduate level, certificates may be short and coursework may be limited to about 9-12 credit hours. Coursework will build on areas of study available at the undergraduate level and introduce more advanced concepts. Some courses can include:
- Regulatory affairs
- Total quality studies
- Engineering statistics
- Quality management
- Pharmaceutical quality management
Popular Career Options
Certificate programs in quality assurance can prepare individuals for entry-level positions in the field and for professional certifications. This can include positions in manufacturing industries, including auto parts, electronic components, aerospace products, and health and safety. Some possible job titles include:
- Quality assurance technician
- Industrial technology technician
- Quality control inspector
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
From 2014-2024, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that quality control inspector would see employment increase 0%, or little to no change for that time period. In May 2015, the BLS stated that quality control analysts earned a median annual salary of about $36,000.
Quality control inspectors may not need any formal education beyond a high school diploma, but higher education might be useful for advancing into positions working with more advanced technology. Associate degree programs in quality control management are available at community and vocational colleges.
With only an undergraduate certificate in quality assurance, a graduate can be qualified to sit for certification through the American Society for Quality. This organization offers the title of Certified Quality Technician, which could help individuals demonstrate competency in the field to potential employers.
After completing a graduate certificate program, a student may transfer into a master's degree program in quality assurance. Such a program could build on previous coursework and could lead to career advancement. Additionally, they may consider the same certification programs as individuals completing undergraduate certificates.
Students wanting to enter a career as a quality control inspector can seek certification through the American Society for Quality by earning a undergraduate or graduate certificates in quality assurance.