Labs are not just for research any more. Commercial environmental, drug-screening and health care-related testing labs have sprung up across the country over the past few decades as businesses have developed a model to make a profit off lab facilities. Physics, chemistry and life science testing labs have to maintain extremely high quality control standards in conducting tests, and commercial labs typically have a full-time lab quality control manager charged with making sure that good laboratory practice or another quality control process is followed at all times.
You need a bachelor's degree to get a job as a laboratory quality manager. Typical majors for those interested in lab QA/QC careers include the natural sciences, business administration, health care administration or quality control management. Earning a master's in business administration or industrial management will increase your chances of landing a manager-level QA position.
Most employers prefer to hire lab managers with one or more professional certifications attesting to their expertise in GLP, GMP or other quality control standard. The American Society for Quality awards more than a dozen quality control-related certifications, including the Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence Certification and the Pharmaceutical GMP Professional Certification. The American Society for Clinical Pathology also has a well-regarded certification program for lab managers.
Implementing Quality Control Processes
The primary responsibility of a lab quality manager is to implement the quality control process decided on by upper management. GLP is typical for research labs and smaller testing or development labs, but GMP, Six Sigma, ISO 9000, ISO 15189 or ISO 17025 are more typical for larger testing or manufacturing facilities. Implementation of a new quality control process involves management and employee training and a significant amount of baseline and ongoing QC process documentation.
Preparing Reports and Training
Lab QC managers typically work closely with with departmental managers in designing and implementing QC/QA training programs. Most quality control training programs are ongoing -- they start with a comprehensive training based on job description and include a continuing education component. Virtually everything about the development and implementation of a QC process must be documented, including all deviations from the process. Lab quality managers spend a good bit of their time preparing and reviewing reports on QC process deviations. Larger enterprises often expect QC managers to produce quarterly and annual reports that provide an overview and details about specific problem areas in QC management.