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A quality specialist, or quality assurance specialist, is typically an engineer, working to support an entire organization in its efforts to improve the quality of a particular product. These specialists work in just about every industry, so job descriptions for this position will vary quite a bit. Generally, a quality specialist has acquired a lot of knowledge about specific machinery, equipment, technology, or manufacturing processes and uses this knowledge to work with products or processes in all stages, from initial development to final delivery. Depending upon the industry and the product, this specialist may only need a high school diploma but might need an advanced engineering degree.
Through experience and time spent in the manufacturing process, the specialist may become somewhat of an expert in a particular area of industry. This depth of experience combined with strong analytical skills, quality consciousness, and a systematic approach to the tasks of this type of job allow the specialist to maintain an overview of all products or processes in his domain. A working knowledge of various data analysis computer programs is also an important part of this job.
Quality specialists may examine materials received from a supplier before they are sent to the production line or inspect finished components as they come off the assembly line. The type of work required determines the amount of training necessary to do the work. Generally, the job requires only a high school diploma or some experience in a particular area. For example, a quality specialist may inspect the seams in various types of clothing, so no specialized training or advanced degree is not needed. Specialists who work for a company that designs and manufactures complex machinery, like wind turbines or automobiles, may need to have a college degree in some related area of engineering.
Teamwork, collaboration and excellent interpersonal communication skills are critical in carrying out the responsibilities of this particular job. Most quality specialists will be working as part of a team or managing a team of other quality specialists. This may require a solid sense of leadership and the ability to work closely with many different types of people in order to meet certain goals or specifications. The ability to communicate clearly and effectively with other departments, vendors, outside companies, executives and managers is also an essential part of this job.