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Businesses can succeed or fail based on the quality of products and services they provide, and a quality manager oversees workers and production processes to ensure customers receive the high-quality items they expect. From instructing and advising workers to checking products for problems during the various stages of production, quality managers are the key to developing a system that produces top results and catches any items that don't meet the necessary standards. They play a role in both physical inspections of products and in meetings to design new ways to create those products.
A manufacturing business provides an excellent overview of a quality manager at work. Before creating a product, the quality manager works with other management staff to brainstorm an efficient development process. She may be responsible for a variety of decisions, including choosing the best materials to use, picking an assembly line system that runs safely and efficiently for the lowest cost, and creating a system of checks each product must pass before it's shipped out.
Once the actual production process starts, the quality manager instructs others to perform checks at specific points during production. If a product has a flaw, it is either fixed or discarded. Finished products must pass careful inspection, and often testing, before they are released to buyers.
The quality manager's job does not end when the product leaves the manufacturing plant, however. She continues to find ways to improve the product by gathering feedback from customers. She also examines data to determine where she can improve either the product itself or the methods used to develop the product.
To start working as a quality manager, an associate's degree or training is usually required. A bachelor's degree provides the greatest job flexibility and often leads to higher paying work. After graduation, a quality manager should seek out certification from the American Society for Quality (ASQ). This two-part exam consists of multiple-choice questions and a written essay. To take the exam without a degree, the ASQ recommends candidates have 10 years of personal experience working as a quality manager.
Popular classes and training for quality managers include computer aided design (CAD), math and statistics, and science classes. Leadership training also helps prepare potential candidates for a top manager position. When the candidate is ready to try the certification exam, she can find practice tests and study guides available from the ASQ to prepare for the test. To stay on top of the ever-changing quality assurance and management field, the ASQ recommends managers re-test every three years.
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