Quality Assurance Engineer

What They Do

Insider Info

"'Assurance of quality' means that whenever a service or product is consumed, the person receiving it is assured that they are getting what they paid for. It does not imply excellence," explains Louise Routledge. She works for a technology institute.

"For example, one set of standards might be associated with Volkswagens and another with BMWs. But customers would know what to expect from both."

Depending on the job and the industry, quality assurance engineers perform many tasks. They work with statistical process control, quality cost measurement and control, and total quality management.

They make sure that quality standards are met. Clients, regulatory bodies and certification organizations may outline these standards. ISO 9000, for example, certifies companies and makes sure that they follow ISO's standards. (ISO stands for the International Standards Organization.)

Quality assurance engineers design and conduct experiments. These experiments reveal if a company is operating well.

These engineers attend meetings, consult with other people, make presentations and write reports.

Routledge says that quality assurance engineers come from many backgrounds. They may be statisticians, professional engineers, nurses, educators or customer service representatives. Some are professional engineers. But many are not.

The American Society for Quality (ASQ) certifies quality assurance engineers in Canada, the U.S. and many other countries. You don't need to be certified to work in quality assurance. But it does increase your credibility. It could also make it easier for you to get a job.

Those who are certified can use the letters CQE (certified quality engineer) behind their name.

Depending on the industry and the type of job, people with physical disabilities can do this work. That's according to Alan Parrish. He is a CQE and president of the Virginia chapter of the ASQ.

"I have many different types of quality assurance jobs," he says. "Disabled persons could definitely do systems activities, internal auditing and data control."

At a Glance

Make sure people get the quality they pay for

  • These engineers conduct experiments to see if a company is operating well
  • You can work in a wide range of places -- schools, hospitals, utility companies and more
  • Certification isn't necessary, but it helps