Working in Pharmaceutical Quality Assurance: Career Guidance

Working in Pharmaceutical Quality Assurance: Career Guidance
Behruz Sheikh

3 mins

Working in Pharmaceutical Quality Assurance: Career Guidance

Discover the importance of quality assurance in pharma and what skills matter most with Behruz Sheikh, Pharmaceutical Sector Head

While the pharmaceutical industry is evolving fast, pharmaceutical quality assurance experts provide the critical foundation behind its progress.

From ensuring that products are safe, and manufacturing is optimised, to facilitating innovation to enable consistency in quality over time, quality assurance professionals in pharma provide a core layer of accuracy that underlies the success of every pharmaceutical product in the market today.

Keep reading to find out:

  • The role of quality assurance professionals in pharma
  • Career routes in quality assurance
  • Key characteristics of a successful quality assurance expert

The role of quality assurance professionals in pharma

Quality assurance professionals work to optimise drug development processes and ensure the safety of the product for end-users. 

While quality control professionals often have overlapping responsibilities with quality assurance professionals, quality control teams tend to work directly with the physical product in a laboratory environment. Meanwhile, quality assurance teams have a more direct role in regulatory affairs, including regulation documentation, auditing, and process management.

Quality assurance ensures both the safety and effectiveness of prescribed medicine by:

  • Ensuring the pharmaceutical product is designed to meet needs and performance requirements
  • Processes are designed to consistently meet product critical quality attributes
  • Processes, equipment, personnel, and deviations are identified and controlled appropriately
  • Manufacture is monitored and updated to achieve consistency in quality over time

Career routes in quality assurance

Quality assurance provides a wealth of opportunity for those interested in working in a fast-paced, and agile environment, where attention to detail and a passion for learning are key.

While a pharmaceutical degree is often cited by employers as preferable, other STEM-associated degrees as well as business degrees are often considered valuable for the role. 

In terms of career progression, quality assurance professionals often start their careers working in QA or QC officer roles, either as an associate, or executive. After further experience, professionals can progress onto QA or QC management, as well as Director and C Suite level positions. Often, many QA professionals work as consultants, particularly once they have established themselves within the industry. 

Key characteristics of a successful quality assurance expert

Successful quality assurance experts are detail-oriented and agile, with a strong understanding of not only the processes and regulations surrounding the pharmaceutical industry, but of why they are there, and why they’re important.

When our teams at SRG look to hire quality assurance professionals we often assess the following:

  • Knowledge of good manufacturing practice
  • Policies and regulation knowledge
  • Quality monitoring system knowledge
  • Data integrity knowledge

Most notably, a thorough understanding of GMP, in terms of what the most important aspects are, is a key discerning factor of a strong candidate. Taking the time to understand why the processes exist, and need to be followed is very valuable, and reflects a detail-oriented perspective that is equally as important for the role.

Looking for your next opportunity in quality assurance?

If you’re interested in exploring a career in quality assurance, our expert consultants at SRG are on hand to support your journey as a candidate.

Click here to explore our latest opportunities in quality assurance

About the author: Behruz Sheikh specialises in providing innovative solutions around talent to companies across the life sciences sector, with a strong focus on pharmaceuticals, med tech and biotech. Having established a strong network across the north of England across SMEs, start ups, and big pharma, he has provided a wide range of bespoke talent solutions to organisations from ad-hoc niche scientific searches to on-site RPO solutions.  Behruz’s team specialise in placing a wide range of STEM roles spanning across bench to boardroom; typical roles include: Analytical Chemists, Microbiologists, Molecular Biologists, Formulation Chemists, Upstream Biotechnologist, Downstream Biotechnologist, GMP Quality Specialists up to Qualified Person, and commercial roles such as Project Managers and Business Development Managers.

Connect with Behruz on LinkedIn to learn more about our opportunities in the field.

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