Professional certifications run from a Lead Auditor in food to becoming certified in Lean Principles and most importantly Six Sigma in general manufacturing. There are multiple levels of a Six Sigma Certification (Yellow, Green, Black, and Master Black). The difference between a quality manager with an MBA and a quality manager with an MBA and a Six Sigma Black Belt is $10,000 to $15,000 in additional salary per year. Not only does this designation place you in the upper echelon of the quality community but it will make you more desirable to future employers as well.
So why would anybody want to get into the world of quality?
Do you like to give your input and see a positive outcome? Do you like to see things follow a process from start to finish with little to no deviation? If you answered yes then your OCD has led you toward this career. Within the quality ranks, you can build, tinker, engineer, create, and, most importantly, protect product and process from defect and flaw. Once you’ve conquered your process, and can own it in your sleep, you are ready to graduate from quality manager to quality director (with a minimum experience level of five or more years in a quality manager or equivalent role).
Nearly five to 10 years of climbing through the ranks will eventually lead to a very comfortable and nicely compensated position of quality director. This of course can only happen with a strong work ethic, incredible educational credentials, and a solid work history. A person who has shown movement from organization to organization every one to two years isn’t going to achieve the position he/she is looking for through “job hopping.”
A suggestion for companies looking to attract top talent: Invest in your process. Tools make the trade and a solid set of tools will attract top talent. Tools aren’t as simple as a calculator and a drafting table. I’m talking about people too. The better the people, the better the candidate. You, the executive management team absolutely must, without a shadow of a doubt, support your new quality manager or director. You must be open to change and accept that you are wanting to hire this person because he/she has the necessary skills to improve your organization into the lean and mean machine it needs to be in order to reach the next level.
As a recruiter, I first ask the organization what its hot buttons are within its systems. Based on that answer, I then work with the organization to reevaluate the true needs of the written job description—frequently what is not written is far more important than the generic and obligatory job description.
The responsibility of the quality manager or director is to protect his/her brand as well as the safety of the general public from default or flaw. A qualified individual can start as a college student who is interested in sciences, who then obtains a degree, continues to an entry-level position within a quality department, and matriculates into the most senior quality position within an organization.
A Modern Quality Manager
Today’s position of quality manager requires an insanely dynamic person with an internal desire to achieve perfection, who continues to improve, and who has thick enough skin to manage the several dozen audits in a calendar year. Is it worth it? You bet it is because a quality manager is the backbone of an organization. Without the quality professional, products would crumble. Maintaining a quality manager position requires continuous improvement and education to remain an asset for a long and prosperous career.