What does a QA engineer do

What does a quality manager do?

Quality managers or quality engineers check and ensure the quality of products. But you also optimize processes and systems, if necessary in cooperation with the maintenance engineer. The quality manager's work extends across the entire value chain. Read more about this profession here.

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General overview of the activities

Globalization has influenced the work in many companies. This applies from medium-sized family businesses to large corporations. The competition is tougher and if you want to sell your goods at a good price, you have to deliver the right quality. This is ensured by the quality management of a company. However, not only globalization, digitalization also poses major challenges for companies. Procedures and processes change, and robots take over routine jobs. At the same time, ever faster and better products are in demand. This increases the importance of quality managers immensely.

They monitor the quality standards. What's more, they are continually improving it. In this way, they also optimize the company's turnover. It is not only about the quality standards of the products manufactured in the company, but also about the quality of the materials used. These may have to be checked on-site at the suppliers' premises, which means that the quality engineer also has to travel. The aim of the quality manager's work is to ensure that the product quality is met in terms of customer requirements, but that the quality costs remain minimal, that throughput times are shortened and that production processes are effective in this way.

However, quality management does not just begin with production. The quality manager or quality engineer accompanies the development of a product from the beginning. He creates the quality standards for new products, analyzes the necessary processes, optimizes them, creates instructions on how the standards can be adhered to and monitors the entire development process. Quality managers subject finished products to extensive tests and material inspections. This is the only way to get as few returns as possible, to guarantee customer satisfaction and thus to increase the company's sales.

An essential task in quality management is the further development of quality assurance instruments and procedures. Process-oriented regulations, guidelines and standards need to be updated and developed. Then the new quality techniques and work instructions have to be introduced into the company. In all work steps of the quality engineer, there is close cooperation with other departments of the company: for example development, construction, production, materials management and procurement, if necessary also with technical marketing, sales and product management.

In addition to in-house quality management, there are also standards, such as ISO 9001, which define the legal requirements for quality management. They must be strictly adhered to. The whole thing then has to be brought into line with the customer's wishes. Ideally, the processes have been optimized by the quality manager in such a way that flexible adjustments to customer requirements are possible at any time.

In summary, the activities of the quality manager include the following tasks:

  • secure and improve product quality
  • Process assurance
  • Process optimization
  • Control of compliance with quality standards
  • Recognize potential for improvement
  • Development of quality standards for new products
  • Tracking down technical defects
  • Recognition of malfunctions in processes
  • Review and analysis of, for example, production processes
  • Prepare risk analyzes
  • Instruction of employees to comply with quality goals
  • perform tests
  • Prepare checklists
  • Time management in case of problems
  • Monitoring of development processes
  • Calculation of quality indicators
  • Planning and implementation of quality assurance measures
  • Planning and implementation of audits
  • carry out employee training
  • Introduce and incorporate new guidelines
  • Monitoring of legal guidelines and DIN standards

Qualities and soft skills that quality managers should bring with them in order to be able to carry out their profession in the best possible way are:

  • analytical skills
  • Motivation
  • Communication skills / good expression
  • Assertiveness
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Organizational talent
  • Initiative
  • Sense of responsibility
  • accuracy
  • Quality awareness
  • flexibility
  • Stress resistance
  • Presentation strength
  • Moderation skills
  • good grasp
  • customer-oriented thinking
  • SAP knowledge
  • Knowledge of the common quality standards such as ISO, VDA or TS
  • When working abroad or for customer contacts: knowledge of foreign languages, especially English
  • If necessary, willingness to travel, also abroad

How do you become a quality manager?

Quality manager is not a classic apprenticeship, and the quality management course does not exist as a completely independent - that is, bachelor and master course. However, quality management can be selected as a focus in various other subjects. Quality managers are mostly technicians or engineers who have received the appropriate training and have received further training in quality management. Because only a few already know during their studies that they want to work in quality management and orientate their studies accordingly. For everyone else there are various further training courses, for example at the chambers of industry and commerce, but also at some universities. The TÜV and DGQ also offer relevant additional training.

The basis for training to become a quality manager or quality engineer is usually a bachelor's degree in business administration. An engineering bachelor's degree is also possible. In the master’s program, there is then the opportunity to specialize in quality management. Most courses have their own specialization, which determines the focus on quality management. These are for example:

  • Environmental management
  • Resource management
  • Integrated management
  • health Management
  • Service management

The usual modules for quality managers, such as statistical methods of quality assurance, quality costs, quality control and planning, project management and test equipment management, are taught based on this focus. The range of courses, however, is manageable and is mostly offered part-time or as distance learning. The advantage: working people already know in which area they are working and can organize the training to become a quality manager accordingly. The alternative would be a degree in business administration with a focus on quality management.

Important: Only those who have actually completed an engineering degree prior to training as a quality manager may call themselves quality engineers. Because the job title of engineer is and will remain protected - also in the quality sector. During the engineering course, students can set their focus on quality modules. There is also a special Master’s degree in Quality Engineering for them, which is aimed at Bachelor graduates.

Anyone who only realizes later in their professional life that they are interested in taking up the profession of quality manager can choose a special training path for engineers: Those who do not have any quality knowledge from their bachelor's or master's degree have the option of an additional qualification as a quality engineer to be completed. The universities that offer this special further education include, for example, the Wilhelm Büchner University (Pfungstadt) or the Beuth University of Technology (Berlin).

The following applies to quality managers: whether it be a university, vocational academy or technical college - it is not the degree that is decisive, but the subject-specific qualification. Those who already have experience in the field of quality assurance have better chances of getting a job.

Where do quality managers work?

Quality managers can find employment in companies of all kinds, but also in public authorities. Their skills are required wherever customers need to be satisfied, production processes need to be optimized and costs need to be reduced. The type of company in which the quality manager or quality engineer ultimately works also depends on his or her training path.

Automotive engineers will most likely work as quality managers in the automotive industry. Mechanical engineers in large industrial companies and engineers in the chemical industry can work in quality management in the chemical and pharmaceuticals sector. Typical branches of engineering that rely on quality management in the development of their products are:

  • vehicle construction
  • Automotive industry / suppliers
  • mechanical engineering
  • Electronics / measurement and control technology / semiconductors
  • Electrical engineering / automation technology
  • Plant construction
  • Energy generation / supply / trading
  • technical services
  • Metal processing
  • Chemical / pharmaceutical industry / refineries
  • Plastics industry
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • IT / EDP / telecommunications
  • Engineering offices
  • Medical technology / health / social affairs
  • Consumer goods and durables
  • Others
  • Heating / air conditioning / ventilation / plumbing
  • Gear and drive technology / bearings
  • Fittings / pumps / compressors

There are even certain industries where the use of a quality manager is required by law. This includes:

  • Pharmaceutical industry
  • Medical technology
  • Health care
  • Aerospace
  • environmental engineering
  • Food production

That's what you earn as a quality manager or quality engineer

With a bachelor's degree, engineers as quality managers can expect an annual starting salary (gross) of 44,000 to 48,000 euros. Master's graduates get an average starting salary of 47,000 to 53,000 euros. Read here what engineers earn to get started.

Over the course of the professional years, the salary of a quality manager is influenced by many factors: professional experience, company size, company sector, region and - more than in most other sectors - additional qualifications and further training. These factors can increase the salary by 15 to 30%.

From a regional perspective, the average salary for quality managers in a comparison of the federal states is around 3,700 to 3,800 euros per month. The only exception is Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, which is a real outlier on the downside: there employees in this profession earn an average of only 2,494 euros per month. But otherwise the monthly earnings of the new federal states are less than 3,000 euros. The highest monthly salary is in Hesse: 4,231 euros. Besides Bremen (4,148 euros) the only federal state in which an average of more than 4,000 euros is earned per month.

The following figures show how much professional experience affects the salary: A 25-year-old quality manager can expect an average salary of 2,757 euros per month. This increases to over 3,395 euros (30 years), 3,994 euros (35 years), 4,096 euros (40 years) up to 5,302 euros for 45-year-old quality managers. After that, the salary begins to drop slightly again, 50-year-olds earn an average of 4,898 euros a month in this job. The average is calculated from all sectors.

Depending on the industry, completely different salaries are possible. Quality managers in the trade get the lowest salaries: 21,790 euros gross per year. In the automotive industry it is 30,270 euros and in the plastics industry 32,793 euros. Engineers get the highest salary as quality managers in social institutions (health care), namely 55,352 euros per year and in the metal industry (55,505 euros). The front runner is mechanical engineering with a gross salary of 63,500 euros per year.

Another very strong factor is company size. The annual average salaries for quality managers in smaller companies with up to 500 employees are 39,696 euros. In medium-sized companies with 501 to 1,000 employees, you earn 44,556 euros in this occupation and in large corporations with 1,000 employees or more, salaries of an average of 59,565 euros are possible.

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