A Quality Control Associate tests the product of a manufacturing process to ensure that it meets with predefined criteria. The completion of this quality check ensures that the final product is safe to release for sale or distribution.
Let’s take a closer look at the details of quality control and the role of a quality control associate.
What is Quality Control and what does a Quality Control Associate Do?
Quality Control is the process by which a manufactured product is deemed suitable to be released for sale or distribution. This decision is made after significant testing of the product and comparison against a pre-defined standard.
The Quality Control department will test the product at various points along the manufacturing process as well as testing the final product. Each test measurement is compared to the standards pre-defined in the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
Tests shown to deviate from that standard will result in a product being destroyed and actions taken to adjust the manufacturing process to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
The standards that test measurements are compared with are internal standards, external regulations and industry-wide standards. Clear documentation must be kept to show that rigorous Quality Control has been carried out before products were authorised for release.
A job in this team carries a great responsibility. In the pharmaceutical and medical device industries, a defective product can mean significant harm to a patient. Maintaining the highest levels in product quality is essential.
What Does a Quality Control Associate Do?
Quality Control Associates are also sometimes referred to as Quality Control Assistants or Quality Control Specialists. The tasks assigned to any one individual can vary greatly depending on the product being produced, but tasks might include:
- Testing and recording measurements of various product attributes
- Comparing these measurements against a pre-defined standard specification
- Monitoring production practices to ensure compliance with Quality Control procedure
- Providing assistance to production staff where necessary regarding the Quality Control procedures
- Completion of documentation to show that tests have been carried out and recording whether the product met the standards or not
- When defects are found – they are analysed and carefully logged into production documentation
- Quality Control teams then work together to find solutions and implement new protocols and procedures in response to deviations
- Compiling test measurements and outcomes into reports for senior colleagues
Watch this Video on a Quality Control Associate’s Role
Take a look at this short video from the About Bioscience website, produced by the North Carolina Association for Biomedical Research (NCABR). It gives a great outline of a ‘day in the life’ of a Quality Compliance Associate.
Becoming a Quality Control Associate
High school level education in science subjects and industry experience are usually the minimum requirements for entry level Quality Control Associate positions.
Many companies will provide training to candidates showing the right traits and skills. A BSc in science or engineering can replace industry experience for some candidates.
The ideal skill set for someone moving into Quality Control includes:
- Team working – Quality Control Associates often work in teams to gather and analyse data
- Keen attention to detail – must be able to quickly spot when something isn’t correct and take effective action, catching a problem early can reduce wasted time and product
- Good communication skills – this role requires working with people from across the manufacturing process and often working with production staff to discuss defects, adherence to protocols and implementing new quality SOPs.
- Excellent written communication – documentation is a key feature of these roles and an essential requirement of industry compliance
- Prioritisation skills – often working to deadlines and ensuring the manufacturing process is working efficiently at every stage, must be able to prioritise workload
Switch to a Quality Control Associate’s Role in the Pharmaceutical Industry
If you want to know more about making a mid-career change into this area, the first step is our 30 week conversion certificate course eBioPharmaChem.
For more information on currently available Quality Control Associate roles, head to our jobs boards and select Quality in the “Jobs by Category” menu. We currently have jobs boards for Ireland, the UK, Philadelphia, USA and Puerto Rico.
How much does a Quality Control Associate Earn?
For information on typical salaries for this role, check out our Salaries Page.
Other Articles in This Series
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- Automation Engineer
- Laboratory Technician
- Maintenance Technician
- Packaging Operator
- Process Engineer
- Process Technician
- Project Engineer
- Quality Assurance Associate
- Quality Engineer
- Validation Engineer
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