Quality Control, often abbreviated to QC, is the practice of ensuring consistent quality throughout a manufacturing process and also uniformity in a company’s products. A large number of scientific and technical companies will have dedicated QC departments however QC is also required in a range of other industries. Depending on the size of the company, there may be many individuals who are each responsible for a different area of the QC process, or alternatively the QC duties not be a full time job and may be shared amongst different staff.
Employees that work within Quality Control are referred to as QC Analysts, QC Chemists, Quality Controllers, QC Specialists, QC Support, In Process Chemists, In Process Analysts, Raw Materials Analysts, Finished Product Analyst and sometimes Analytical Chemists (however this often refers to the analysis of R&D samples via specialised instrumentation). For the purpose of this article, this genre of role will be termed QC Analyst.
A QC Analyst focuses on testing substances for compliance to standards and requirements. This could be at the start of the production process (Raw Materials Analyst), during production itself (In Process Analyst) or at the end of manufacture (Finished Product testing).
A QC Analyst utilises lab skills (chemistry usually, but could also include physical test methods, microbiology and other skills) to test and measure materials, generally in a manufacturing field such as pharmaceutical manufacturing, chemical manufacturing, and other industry sectors. A QC Analyst ensures that experiments are completed according to established Standard Operating Practices (SOPs), and also Good Laboratory Practices (GLP) or Good Clinical Practices (GCP) for highly regulated industries. Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) is also adhered to for in process testing. Some QC Analysts are required to validate instrumentation and experiments as well.
- QC Analysts prepare and test samples from all phases of a manufacturing or other handling process, with the goal of determining if the substance meets the standards or requirements of the project.
- A variety of methods that vary from industry to industry but generally require basic lab-work skills and thorough understanding of chemical & pharma testing equipment and processes.
- They prepare technical documents that report the results of their lab work.
- They may also be responsible for minor equipment troubleshooting, calibration and repair.
- QC Analysts may need to have a degree or equivalent in chemistry or a relevant subject to the industry sector, such as pharmaceutical sciences or biochemistry.
- Via academia, students will develop some necessary laboratory skills for fulfilling the duties required of an entry level QC Analyst, including knowledge of how to perform analytical chemistry, biochemistry, instrumental analysis and physical chemistry work.
- Most universities may also have options for students to undertake a placement year in industry – this is a great way of ensuring that you have practical skills relevant to the wider work place.
- A QC Analyst vacancy is an excellent role to begin a career in industry; you will be required to perform a variety of tasks which will provide you with a broad range of experience which can be transferred into any future positions.
- If you already have some industrial experience you may decide to move into quality to gain experience working in another industry or working environment.
- Having a quality background may open doors into other areas of the business and there are other roles that can be progressed into in the Quality Department such as:
- QA Manager
- QA Auditor
- QC Supervisor
- Quality Assurance (QA) Officer
- Gaining experience in a quality based role will be valuable for your career development especially if you manage to advance into QA, as this skills set is in demand.