Quality assurance (QA) is a critical component of any business, and a QA manager is at the heart of a company’s success. QA managers are responsible for developing new processes and improving existing ones. They aim to avoid errors so that all products, services, or deliverables comply with the company’s requirements and standards. This is vital to customer satisfaction, efficiency, and risk management. Positions for QA managers are available in many industries, including manufacturing, finance, and software.
What Is a QA Manager?
A QA manager’s job description involves overseeing, analyzing, and improving processes within a business. Quality assurance is focused on taking preventative steps to avoid errors. Although quality control sounds quite similar, the two roles should not be confused and are not interchangeable. Quality control involves looking for defects or errors after a process is complete. For example, a quality control employee would examine a finished product to ensure it is safe for consumers. In contrast, a QA manager would have a hand in the process from beginning to end, anticipating, detecting, and solving problems along the way.
Although there are variations depending on the specific type of business, the key responsibilities of a QA manager typically include:
- Hiring and training staff
- Analyzing current processes
- Developing and implementing enhancement strategies
- Communicating effectively with the QA team
Ultimately, the QA manager’s goal is to create a system in which deliverables are produced as quickly as possible while maintaining the expected level of safety and quality.
An average workday for a QA manager would most likely consist of meeting with staff, developing and implementing quality control tests, inspecting products or deliverables, and creating reports to document any problems and potential improvements. Through these tasks, QA managers help improve a business’s processes by reducing wasted time, money, and resources.
QA Manager Role on a Project Team vs. Other Teams
QA managers can be involved in many aspects of a business. Those who work with project teams have the same essential responsibilities as those working with teams of other types, but there are differences in the details. For example, a QA manager working with an assembly or manufacturing team would be involved in examining the steps in creating a product and determining where errors occur.
On the other hand, a QA manager on a project team would likely be focused on ensuring that a project is completed as efficiently and accurately as possible. This might involve developing standards for hiring so that time is not wasted on training employees who are not qualified, compatible, or invested in the position.
Later in the process, the QA manager would provide the team members with expectations and request that they conduct periodic reviews of their work to determine whether they are meeting the necessary goals. They may also submit reports documenting their progress so that the QA manager can look for areas of weakness in the team’s workflow and offer solutions. This helps the project team produce high-quality deliverables on time.
Qualities of an Effective QA Manager
Due to the variety of responsibilities, a QA manager’s skills are wide-ranging. In addition to field-specific expertise, clear and concise communication skills are a must. Written communication is fundamental to a QA manager’s ability to create accurate documentation and reports. In addition, verbal communication, in combination with interpersonal, supervisory and leadership skills, is necessary to train and manage a team effectively.
One of the essential skills of a strong QA manager is the ability to meet deadlines. By nature, the job revolves around efficiency and time management. If you cannot manage your own time, it is unlikely that you will be able to improve the efficiency and productivity of the people and processes you work with. Analysis and observation are also important qualities for a QA manager, as the heart of the job is examining and analyzing processes to find areas needing improvement.
Quality Assurance Manager Salary
According to Payscale, the average QA manager salary is around $83,000 annually. Salary potential may also vary by location, employer, and experience, among other factors*. For example, if you hold an advanced degree, such as an MBA, your starting salary might be above other employees whose highest level of education is a bachelor’s degree.
According to O*Net Online, the projected growth for QA managers is considered fair to average, with a 5% to 10% projected growth rate through 2030. Manufacturing is the top industry for quality assurance professionals (72% employment).
Education and Training
Most QA manager positions require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. A small number of companies may not require a college degree, while others may require a master’s degree.
In addition to a degree, employers may look for work experience in quality control or production to ensure that a candidate is prepared for a QA manager role. The thorough knowledge required by the position necessitates a background of on-the-job or vocational training.
Becoming a QA Manager
With a clear understanding of the skills, qualities, education, and training required, you can evaluate whether it might be the right career path for your future. One possible first step might be earning an online MBA in Project Management from Florida Tech, which can be completed in two years or less. In addition to gaining essential business skills and knowledge from the MBA portion of the degree, the specialized program includes four courses focused on strategic project management, organizational behavior and mastering project management to help you develop knowledge in core areas such as time, cost, scope and quality management.
Professionals who earn an MBA with a specialization in Project Management can:
- Apply case studies analysis skills to various business issues.
- Implement a process-based approach to meeting organizational goals.
- Determine proper tools and techniques needed to solve problems.
- Strategize, plan, and develop projects.
- Leverage advanced knowledge and skills to succeed as a quality assurance manager.
The program is also accredited by the PMI Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Education Programs and its specialized project management courses prepare you to sit for a Project Management Institute (PMI) certification exam (such as the Project Management Professional (PMP®).
*National long-term projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth. Degree program options do not guarantee career or salary outcomes. Students should conduct independent research for specific employment information.
PMP is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.