Quality assurance managers, or quality control managers, are responsible for maintaining specified quality standards at a workplace, often including supervising a team of quality control inspectors. Until the late 20th century, most Q/A inspectors and managers did not need a lot of education, as on-the-job training sufficed for simply judging products on a pass/fail basis. Quality assurance technology, however, has grown more advanced over the last few decades, and the more complex devices and processes used for quality assurance in many industries require a higher level of education. This means 21st-century employers seek Q/A managers with relevant industry certifications and college degrees.
Earn an associate or bachelor's degree in quality control management, business administration or a related field. You can also become a quality manager with a technical degree in industries such as chemical manufacturing, industrial machinery and semiconductors.
Apply for entry-level quality assurance specialist or inspector positions in your area. Complete the on-the-job training program and accept all additional responsibilities. Earn any relevant industry certifications, such as the American Society for Quality's quality technician, quality inspector or quality process analyst certifications.
Work as a Q/A specialist for at least three or four years to gain experience and seniority. Take the time to learn about all standards relevant to your industry. Quality manager positions typically require four to five years' professional experience in addition to educational requirements.
When you meet the experience requirements, apply for quality assurance or control manager positions at your current job and elsewhere. Unless you live in a major city, you might have to relocate to find an ideal Q/A manager position.
Start developing your personal and professional networks in college. Networking will give you an inside track for many jobs, especially management positions, and will give you a shot at jobs you might not even have heard about otherwise.
2016 Salary Information for Quality Control Inspectors
Quality control inspectors earned a median annual salary of $36,780 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, quality control inspectors earned a 25th percentile salary of $27,760, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $49,250, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 520,700 people were employed in the U.S. as quality control inspectors.