Where can a career in QA take me?
The QA role provides an opportunity to learn about many aspects of product development and how each of the parts inter-link. This, combined with the huge variety of work that the QA Professional becomes involved in often leads to strong job satisfaction that keeps most people in the job for many years. For those looking for different career progression, prior experience as a QA Professional is generally viewed very positively by recruiters and people often go on to take up more senior roles in other company functions.
QA is a profession that provides opportunities to:
- Influence working practices to improve standards of quality
The main purpose of the role of the QA professional is to assure management of compliance with the applicable regulations.
Monitoring for compliance by the QA professional involves conducting audits of the facilities, quality development in the facilities, and the review of various documents.
The role also involves proactive input into changes in policies and working practices within the organisation. As a QA professional, you will be asked for suggestions on how to improve processes and policies with a view to improving the quality of the work.
- Work with a variety of internal and external companies
A QA professional typically works with many parts of the organisation. It is a cross-departmental role. Additionally, an organisation may be involved in contracting out work or in collaborations with other organisations and may be involved in auditing quality systems within these external organisations as well as auditing other parts of your own organisation.
- Share knowledge through advice
You may be expected to deliver training in the basic principles of quality to new staff within the organisation as well as training for staff taking on particular quality roles in what their responsibilities are (for example, computer system owners, Study Directors). It is also expected that staff receive periodic refresher training so you may be involved in putting together material for this as well as running training workshops. All of this training needs to be organised and documented, so organisation skills are key.
- Provide opportunities for personal and professional development
A career as a QA professional will mean that you will be constantly developing your knowledge and skills. In order to perform audits, you will need a good understanding of the science behind the work being conducted. Therefore as scientific techniques evolve and develop, you will be aware of this and learn about these exciting developments. You will also get opportunities to gain a broad understanding of the pharmaceutical or agrochemical industry and the drug development process to understand how your role fits in. You may also get the opportunity to attend professional development courses such as auditing skills, observation and report writing, risk management, and process mapping.
Many organisations employing QA professionals are large global companies with sites in many locations. You may be required to travel to other locations to participate in joint audits or attend meetings.
You may also be required to be involved in due diligence activities at a location of another company of which your organisation is considering a buy-out or buying a drug in mid-development.
Your organisation may decide to contract some work to other organisations. You may be required to audit these 3rd party organisations, which could be located anywhere in the world. The purpose of these audits is to assess the standards that they are working to and whether this is acceptable to your organisation.
Additionally you may be required to audit supplier companies who provide materials and/or services that are key to the work being conducted in your organisation. This is to ensure that the systems in the supplier company are adequate to ensure quality of those products that are being supplied.
- Enjoy a variety of roles through involvement in a number of different projects, processes and locations
You could be involved in auditing a wide variety of study types ranging from toxicity studies designed to provide a safe dose to soil sediment studies looking at how an agrochemical would behave in the environment.
Additionally, as you hold a unique role within the organisation that encompasses many departments, you will probably also get involved in improvement projects both in QA and in the scientific functions, as well as computer validation projects.
You may occasionally be involved in hosting inspections of your organisation from regulatory authority inspectors. This will include helping to prepare for the inspection as well as answering questions and supporting scientific staff throughout the inspection.
- Raise your profile within your organisation
Working in QA means that you will never be stuck in an office all day not being able to meet people in other parts of your organisation.
Your role means that you will be liaising with people from all parts of your organisation at all levels.
You will meet people through auditing and liaise with management to discuss corrective actions. Working in QA is an excellent way to get to know all parts of the organisation and raise your profile.
- Plan and organise your own workload and schedule
You will be required to plan audits and maintain schedules, which will be scrutinised by the regulatory authorities. The ability to prioritise your workload is very important, as you are likely to be involved in different projects and audits at the same time. Acquire an in-depth understanding of how complex organisations work Due to the unique position that QA holds with their 'umbrella' view, you will gain an understanding of many different areas and processes within your organisation and gain an understanding of how different parts of your organisation liaise with each other.