"'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
"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