Quality Assurance Management Degree and Training Program Overviews
Degree programs in quality assurance can train students to oversee regulatory compliance in a variety of industries. Depending on the degree level and training, graduates can find work testing product quality or developing methods to improve safety.
Quality assurance professionals, also known as quality control professionals, work to maintain product quality in a range of industries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about two-thirds of quality control inspectors work in manufacturing. While quality control inspectors usually need some vocational and on-the-job training, a bachelor's degree can prepare them for compliance officer and specialist positions. A graduate degree can prepare them for roles in management.
Bachelor of Science in Quality Assurance
In a bachelor's degree program in quality assurance, students can gain knowledge in the laws regulating industries such as health care, pharmaceutical manufacturing, engineering and biological science research. They can analyze the effectiveness of company policies, making improvements where needed. Students can also take part in simulations or real-world audits, reviews and random samples.
Bachelor's degree programs within this field typically require a high school diploma or the equivalent. In addition, some schools may require a semester of college-level calculus before students are eligible to declare the major.
Undergraduate degree programs in quality assurance can typically be completed within four years. Students can be expected to complete general education coursework to comply with university degree requirements. This could include classes in social science, math, natural science and English. Courses within the quality assurance program can include:
- Quality economics
- Systems of quality
- Operations and production
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), compliance officers made an average yearly salary of $62,140 in 2010 (www.bls.gov). In the same year, occupational safety and health specialists made an average yearly salary of $65,610.
Master of Science in Quality Assurance
The focus in a quality assurance master's degree program is typically in giving students the tools to manage a company or organization's quality control and safety systems. These degree programs usually takes two years to complete, during which time students can learn to design and implement safety procedure systems and recognize issues that arise due to human factors in production.
A bachelor's degree is generally required for admittance into these degree programs. A bachelor's degree in quality assurance or a technical field such as applied science or technical engineering is generally encouraged, but not mandatory. Some schools also require students to submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination.
Quality assurance master's degree programs typically involve classroom learning that culminates in independent research. Students may be expected to analyze data and compile statistics. They may run simulations that recreate real-world scenarios, or be given the opportunity to observe an organization's production line to study sampling methods and potential human error factors. Programs can be offered as an interdisciplinary option, allowing students to become familiar with a variety of industries . Course topics could include:
- Production quality
- Human factors
- Organizational procedures
- Inspection procedures
- Cost and supply
- Legality and ethics
- Medical device regulation
- Risk management
Popular Career Options
Graduates of a master's degree in quality assurance degree program are typically qualified to work in managerial positions for companies and organizations that must adhere to quality assurance laws and regulations. Because of the variety of industries impacted by quality and safety regulatory systems, job opportunities for qualified individuals are also varied. Graduates of these programs can explore a multitude of career pathways, such as employment in the medical, automotive, aerospace, agricultural and food handling industries. Some job titles could include:
- Regulatory compliance officer
- Occupational safety and health specialist
- Pharmaceutical inspection manager
- Aerospace product regulatory supervisor
Continuing Education and Certification Information
Graduates of a master's degree program in quality assurance are expected to be informed of the changing regulations in their given field. Most schools prepare students to take examinations for professional certifications administered by the American Society for Quality (ASQ), which can be a job requirement in this field. As graduates progress in their careers, they can take additional training programs offered by the ASQ. This can lead to certifications in various specializations of quality assurance, including Certified Reliability Engineer, Certified Quality Engineer, Certified Quality Manager and Certified Quality Auditor.
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