what does a quality assurance specialist do?

  • job profiles
  • September 10, 2020

Quality assurance (QA) specialists are responsible for ensuring that the highest standards are upheld across multiple areas of operations at life sciences companies today. In that capacity, they help ensure that everything from research and development (R&D) to clinical trials is governed by the appropriate safeguards and protocols. That helps with compliance, and it also helps with regulatory approval — two things which, from the standpoint of pharmaceutical and life sciences companies, are extremely valuable.

Zooming out to take the 30,000-foot view, the core responsibilities of today’s top quality assurance specialists usually include:

  • leading quality assurance testing for a wide range of products, compounds, substances and more
  • leading continuous improvement initiatives while working with quality assurance management systems, quality controls and more
  • identifying quality issues and other defects in finished products
  • providing input around potential improvements to production processes, with the goal of driving consistently higher-quality output
  • executing test cases, as needed
  • diligently logging details of findings, reporting and escalating as appropriate
  • developing quality-related documentation
  • collaborating with cross-functional stakeholders and providing insights around testing outcomes and business needs
  • contributing to the automation of testing processes
  • coaching and mentoring more junior team members
  • ensuring broad-based adherence to relevant regulatory requirements as well as quality standards

how do you become a quality assurance specialist?

Interested in becoming a quality assurance specialist? You’ve come to the right place! We advocate either of the following two paths forward for aspiring quality assurance specialists:

  • exploring opportunities on job boards
  • signing up with a staffing firm that can identify relevant quality assurance positions — and even email new opportunities directly to your inbox the minute they become available

what are the key skills of a quality assurance specialist?

Success as a quality assurance specialist requires a bit of hands-on experience and technical training, but transitioning into this field is totally doable if you set your mind to it. So if you’re concerned you might need to build up your credentials a bit, don’t sweat it. In fact, the great news is that there are tons of resources you can access online in this field. Just take a look at the top courses in quality assurance on Udemy, our learning partner, if you aren’t sure where to get started.

What skills and backgrounds are the most highly prized by employers when evaluating new hires for quality assurance specialist roles today?

  • bachelor's degree in a relevant life sciences field of study
  • familiarity with basic document review and control processes
  • organization and time-management skills
  • attentiveness to detail
  • safety- and quality-oriented
  • native problem-solving and analytical aptitude
  • demonstrated verbal, written and presentation skills
  • ability to multitask and prioritize workloads
  • ability to rapidly adapt in a fast-paced environment

how much does a quality assurance specialist make?

Devotees of quality, these life sciences specialists tend to be well compensated accordingly. Looking at the latest salary data, notably, average salaries for these life science pros seem to fall into three tiers — low, middle and high — depending on a number of factors, including your location, market and level of experience.

Those tiers are as follows:

  • low $41,400
  • mid $62,000
  • high $74,600

Looking for more detailed and granular information about compensation in your location or market? Check out this salary comparison tool from Randstad. It’ll give you at-a-glance data about pay rates across roles and markets.

key takeaways

We've covered the ins and outs of daily work for your average quality assurance specialist. At this point, you should have a pretty clear idea of what to expect in the role, what next steps to pursue if you're looking to evolve your current prospects — or even how to get started on this exciting career path!

To recap, we've covered:

  • what quality assurance specialists do
  • what training, experience and core requirements are commonly associated with the role
  • what essential skills you’ll need in order to be successful in this position
  • what the salary expectations should be for these highly in-demand pros
  • … and a whole lot more!

Hopefully, you feel empowered to take action after reading this article — after all, there are any number of great career paths open to quality assurance specialists today. So if you’re eager to take the next step, you can start by searching for quality assurance specialist jobs with Randstad right now.