A quality assurance (QA) technician reviews products and services to make sure they meet certain standards of quality. In many companies, the quality assurance/quality control (QC) lab or department is a focal point of the corporate mission and administration. Because of the importance of quality, this technician must often be highly educated and experienced in the particular manufacturing methods and products he or she deals with.
Quality assurance is accomplished by a variety of methods depending upon the product or service to be assessed. Such methods include, among many other things, taste-testing, visual and physical inspection, micrometer measurements, liquid level measurements, viscometer testing and, in the case of service providers, listening in on or being present at sales presentations and customer interaction. The quality assurance technician, often assuming the role of quality control, not only performs individual checks and/or tests on various products and services, but is also responsible for maintaining the long-term continuity of production and service quality.
Attention to paperwork, computer data, and any other necessary documentation is vital in affirming and raising quality standards over the long term. In addition to helping respond to customer queries, such documentation provides production personnel a measurable quality goal to efficiently sustain and, hopefully, exceed. It is essential that production people are aware of the quality standards expected of them. Therefore, another function of quality assurance personnel is the education of production personnel regarding changes in quality standards and procedures. A QA technician, especially in the field of manufacturing, ought to be familiar with all of the various safety procedures and manufacturing methods in his or her work environment. He or she must also stay current with trends and changes that might affect the quality of the products or services he or she is responsible for.
Testing and inspection are also required on various products and methods so that a manufacturer will remain in compliance with the multitude of safety and environmental regulations. In the US, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and various other federal and state regulatory agencies have all instituted rules and regulations governing manufacturing practices and products. In large measure, it is the responsibility of the quality assurance department to maintain compliance with these regulations.
Responsibility for reporting lapses in or serious breaches of quality standards to the proper supervisory personnel is an important step in controlling and assuring the maintenance of expected quality levels. Failure to do so would result in continuation of lapsed practices and the eventual failure of the business.