Is Your New Year’s Resolution a New Job? Consider a Career in Quality Management

Dec 29, 2014 - Joe Matar
Frustrated by your lack of career growth opportunities? Have you ever considered a career in quality management? Quality management — not to be confused with quality managers — includes everything from quality planning and assurance to quality control and quality improvement. A career in this field involves streamlining processes so an organization can be more effective in the products they create or services they offer. What comes to mind when you think of a career in quality management? Do you picture someone in a white collared shirt and clipboard standing on an assembly line, robotically inspecting toasters as they make their way through some nondescript manufacturing facility? Maybe you think of that pesky auditor who comes around once a year lecturing about industry code, regulation and procedure -- with seemingly no regard for the work that has to be completed on a timely schedule. While some types of quality management roles might adhere to the above scenarios, there’s more to this field for your career than meets the eye. Here are a few reasons you might consider a career in this field and how you can use your transferable skills to get your foot in the door. (Click here to tweet this link.)

Job security in quality management

There’s more to quality management than random sample generation and statistical process control. Process and inspection are vital to producing a safe working environment and quality product or service. Procedural auditing for example, just one aspect of quality management, can be a beneficial and productive exercise if performed with an open mind and the right approach. The first-hand experience you might gain while performing a procedural audit -- or assessment if you prefer the term -- would rival any classroom curriculum on the general mechanics of business management.

What industries need quality management expertise

Long-term demand for quality management professionals is growing across all industry sectors. Aviation and oil and gas, for example, have some of the most stringent regulatory mandates. This demand is not limited only to the transportation and energy sectors, but also industries such as food, health and retail. Along with regulatory requirements, client organizations are reluctant to award contracts unless a robust quality management structure is in place. Low-quality services or products can bring loss of revenue and poorly impact an organization’s reputation. These quality systems are not isolated to product sampling or technical inspection. Quality management processes are now intertwined within the whole corporate organizational structure. Demonstrated quality processes and procedures are recommended for executive and project management, finance and human resources, just to name a few. In fact ISO 9001:2008, one of the most widely used quality management standards in the world today, is implemented by over one million companies and organizations in over 170 countries. This translates into growing career opportunities for professionals like you. The time is ripe to take advantage of this trend and transition into a quality management role.

How you can translate your skills into project management

Now for the best part! As an experienced professional, you likely have most of the tranksferable skills required for a successful career in quality management. It’s just a matter of building on that foundation. And because the necessity for quality representation spans all industries, your skill set is not only relevant and transferable, but also essential to your success. How many times have you followed a procedure at work, mentally noting how redundant or impractical the process was? Or perhaps you have disregarded the procedure altogether because you developed a more efficient way to complete the task? Your knowledge and experience provide you the ability to recognize and identify these costly inefficiencies and help you improve or refine processes instead of brushing them aside. This would make for a valuable member of any management team.

How to transition into quality management

If you want to transition into a quality management role, here are a few tips that could get you started on the road to success:
  • Enroll in quality related coursework or training. Take it on personal time or make a case to your employer of the benefits this training will bring and have it reimbursed. Again, the ISO 9000 Standard would be a great starting point.
  • Network with other people in the quality field both local and online. The American Society for Quality - ASQ has a local branch in most major cities in North America. LinkedIn is a great source for connecting with people internationally and can be a powerful career tool.
  • Take targeted management courses through your local university or college. Online or continuing education programs are a great option.
  • Volunteer to observe on audits both with your employer or with people you meet through your local networks. This is a strategy most people don't do but should.
These few strategies, when combined with your knowledge and expertise, could open up doors that might have otherwise been inaccessible. Quality management may not have been on your career radar in the past, but it’s a hidden gem that should not be overlooked. How could your expertise be adapted to a career in quality management? Greg Peckford (@gregpeckford) is a corporate quality management professional with over 18 years of experience in areas of aviation, oil and energy, and construction management. He is also founder of Quality Career Advancement, a blog dedicated to helping technical professionals use quality management to elevate their careers.