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How to Progress your Pharmaceutical Quality Assurance Career

What is Quality Assurance (QA) and Quality Control (QC)?

Quality Assurance and Quality Control are key components of Quality Management. The responsibility of professionals within both functions is to make sure there are no deficiencies within the processes used to develop a product and that the product itself is safe for consumption.

Although the roles and responsibilities of QA and QC professionals can overlap, there is a key distinction between the two.  The responsibilities of Quality Assurance professionals involve compliance and regulation documentation, auditing, and process management. Typically, roles within QA are office-based. In contrast, Quality Control professionals deal with the physical product. Roles within QC are usually lab or manufacturing site based.

Typical Quality roles

Typical roles within Pharmaceutical Quality Management sector are:

  • QA / QC Officer, Executive or Associate
  • QA Assistant
  • QA / QC Management,
  • Director or Head of Department
How can you progress your Pharmaceutical Quality Assurance Career?

If you are looking to progress your career within Pharmaceutical Quality Assurance, you’ll need to have fantastic communication and technical skills and have confidence in your ability.

In addition to these characteristics, you’ll need to complete additional tasks to help take your career to the next level:

  1. Obtain a Degree in a Relevant Field of Study 
    Obtaining a degree within a relevant field of study is hugely beneficial for your career progression. Ideally, companies look for candidates who have a science/ pharmaceutical based degree. However, relevant fields of study can range from microbiology and chemistry to business admin.
  2. Gather relevant industry experience 
    Entry-level candidates starting their career will be able to increase their knowledge of the industry significantly within a relatively short period of time as they will be given exposure to working on QMS, CAPA's, deviations, batch release, risk assessments and root cause analysis duties.
    They will also learn various regulations that fall under the GxP depending on the sector. These cover manufacturing, clinical and distribution practices.

    A career in Quality gives the exciting opportunity to develop and train in new areas. This could include auditing (internal, external, supplier, leading and hosting inspections), RP and QP training (this is relative to batch release of a product and final sign off). These are high-level roles, but additional courses are on offer in some companies to get to this stage, so those who thrive on learning and development would advance well in a career in Quality.
  3. To be successful within this line of work you’ll also need to be confident, sociable and have excellent communications skills as you’ll be dealing with external stakeholders regularly.
  4. A key trait to have to work within the Pharma Quality Assurance sector is adaptability. As you’ll be exposed to several different businesses and their products, it will be a requirement of yours to use your initiative and change your approach to working to tackle any new situations you may face.

Looking for a new role in Quality Assurance?

Find out more about a career in Pharma Quality Assurance and Quality Control below, take a look at our jobs or speak with our specialist consultant Katrina Hughes for an informal chat: katrina@carrotpharma.co.uk /  01625 541 040

Submit your CV

Can you transition into the Pharmaceutical Quality Assurance sector without previous experience?

If you have worked within a Quality Assurance role in another industry i.e. food, cosmetics and medical devices/ healthcare it is possible to transition into a Pharmaceutical Quality Assurance role – although it’s important to understand regulations within Quality are stricter than those of other industries.

As there are many similarities between Regulatory Affairs and Quality Assurance, it is relatively easy to transition between the two sectors, especially within smaller companies. For entry-level candidates, it’s important to note that small to medium-sized companies offer more exposure and responsibility for individuals in lower-level roles, so this could be a good place to start. They also offer a fast-paced environment, learning and development opportunities and career growth.

In contrast, larger companies can offer quicker career progression opportunities as they have bigger teams, but you may only gain exposure to a function within the company.  The size of company candidates chooses to work in usually depends on the individual and their personal career goals.  For example, some candidates will want to work for a smaller company as they will gain exposure to different functions whereas other candidates will prefer to be part of a larger company as there are stringent processes and structure.

Typical Pharmaceutical Quality Assurance career progression options

Typical career progression opportunities within Pharmaceutical Quality Assurance could look like:

  • Quality Officer
  • Senior or Specialist Quality Officer
  • QA Manager
  • Senior Manager
  • Head of Department
  • Director
  • Vice President

To have a successful career within Pharmaceutical Quality Assurance or Quality Control, you will need a good reputation within the industry and a willingness to learn.  Demonstrating these key characteristics, as well as a strong knowledge of general practices, will help you progress your career. Visit our jobs page to browse our current vacancies. 

Talk to us

If you would like an informal chat to discuss your career progression opportunities, our specialist recruitment consultant Katrina Hughes will be happy to help. She can be contacted on: