Throughout the manufacturing process, a Quality Assurance (QA) specialist evaluates products and their performance. During the production of a product, he or she follows a set of procedures and is usually in charge of any problems or potential problems that arise during testing. During testing, the specialist may be expected to use a variety of specialized equipment, depending on the types of products he or she works with. Quality assurance specialists typically receive extensive on-the-job training, though those who perform highly specialized types of tests may be required to hold an academic degree in a related field. Furthermore, some professional organizations for quality assurance workers provide various types of specialist certifications to experienced quality control workers.
When a product is being developed, it is usually put through a series of tests to ensure that it is safe and functional. This is a continuous process in many companies, as manufacturing errors and problems can occur at any time. As a result, even products that have been in the company’s line for a long time must go through a quality assurance procedure. People can get their start in the field of quality control conducting simple tests on products. These workers may eventually be able to advance their careers learning how to conduct more complex tests with laboratory equipment or other tools and skills.
Because most employers require documentation of testing, a quality assurance specialist is usually in charge of writing up reports on the performance of the products he or she examines. Although each employer may have their own standards for writing these reports, the specialist may need to learn how to properly complete government-issued forms in order to stay in compliance with various health and safety codes in some cases. The specialist is in charge of ensuring that any problems discovered are accurately described in this documentation. Furthermore, the specialist must be able to collaborate effectively with other employees, such as manufacturing supervisors, in order to ensure that issues are identified and addressed.
The education required to work as a quality assurance specialist varies depending on the field and employer. Many entry-level quality control jobs can be taught in-house, while others may require the quality control employee to have specific skills. If a quality assurance specialist works in a highly specialized or technical field, he or she may choose to obtain industry certification in that field in order to maximize career opportunities and chances for advancement.