Quality managers ensure that a company’s products meet or exceed the quality standards its customers expect. They develop quality management systems and supervise teams of inspectors who monitor quality on the production line. In some cases, they enable companies to meet the requirements of standards organizations or comply with the quality standards set by customers. By improving quality and minimizing waste, quality managers help companies to reduce costs and improve profitability.
A bachelor’s degree is essential for this position, according to O*Net Online. Managers who want higher qualifications can take a degree such as master of science in quality management from the Florida Institute of Technology. Quality managers can also obtain certification through an accreditation organization such as the American Society for Quality.
Analytical skill and attention to detail are essential requirements for this role, according to O*Net Online. Quality managers review and interpret statistical data supplied by inspectors or automated monitoring systems. They need good decision-making skills to make recommendations for quality improvements. They must also be good communicators so that they can guide their teams and encourage colleagues to maintain the highest standards of quality.
Quality managers establish procedures and policies for quality control. They may base their procedures on a system such as ISO 9000 -- Quality Management published by the International Organization for Standardization. They prepare quality documentation and issue copies to all departments and employees responsible for quality. To get accreditation to a standard such as ISO 9000, they implement its recommendations and arrange training programs in preparation for a quality audit.
To develop consistent quality standards throughout the supply chain, quality managers work with suppliers. They may impose the company’s quality standards on suppliers of components and materials, or integrate the quality standards of different companies in the supply chain. Harmonizing quality reduces the time and cost of inspecting incoming materials, and helps to ensure the quality of the final product.
Quality managers recruit, train and manage quality inspectors. They plan and manage continuous improvement programs to increase levels of quality. They also aim to widen the responsibility for quality to other employees on the production line. By making employees responsible for their own quality and operating quality award schemes, they can create a culture of quality throughout the organization.
Pay and Outlook
The average salary for quality professionals in the United States was $87,086 in 2011, according to the American Society for Quality’s annual salary survey published in “Quality Progress” magazine. Employment opportunities for quality managers are projected to grow less than 10 percent from 2010 to 2020, slower than the 14 percent average predicted for all occupations in the United States, according to O*Net Online.