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Engineering careers

Safety & Quality Assurance Engineering

The importance of safety and quality assurance engineering

Every single product that people buy, from TVs and toasters, to tanks and tin whistles, will have gone through vigorous safety and quality assurance tests. It’s actually one of the most important parts of the engineering field, as these guys ensure that everything runs smoothly once it is actually being used in the big, wide world.

Safety and quality assurance engineering is incredibly important for maintaining customer satisfaction and for reducing detrimental effects on commercial activity. This principle influences everything, including the computer you’re reading this article on, the light that’s keeping you from sitting in the dark or even the clothes you’re wearing.

If there is even the slightest issue, a whole product line can be recalled. This kind of thing seems to happen every few years for a particular model of car, often resulting in a company losing millions of pounds or even worse, the people at the wheel being placed in danger. It’s kind of like Edward Norton’s job at the beginning of Fight Club, but quite a bit more pleasant.

Things need to work and if they don’t, we better know about it and get it sorted. With so many products now having the capacity to do real damage if they go wrong, the level of testing and safety checks are nothing short of rigorous.

It’s not simply about preventing it from exploding though: you need to make sure it works. If you buy a phone that requires you to stand on your head before it will work, this obviously doesn’t make for the most practical of experiences.

What’s the difference between the safety and quality assurance engineer?

Well, as I’m sure you’d expect, the safety engineer is responsible for making sure that nobody will come to any harm as a result of using the product in question.

As for the quality assurance engineer, these guys are responsible for answering the question: “Does it do what it says on the tin?” If not, they assess why and make provisions to ensure that it will do so in the future. In most cases, these engineers are involved in the development process of a particular product. However, in certain situations they will work on a product that has been recalled.

How do you become a safety or quality assurance engineer?

An engineering degree will give you a great start if this is the route you are looking to take. However, a university education isn’t the be all and end all; for example, there are hundreds of apprenticeships available if you are looking to ‘earn as you learn’.

Regardless of which route you take, becoming a safety or quality assurance engineer is perfectly possible if you apply yourself. If you want to succeed though, an analytical mind is essential. Problem solving is the name of the game, although being meticulous in the way you explore a product and its potential flaws is just as crucial.

What companies need safety and quality assurance engineers?

When it comes to your work environment, you will usually find yourself in a factory or test centre of some sort. You might be bashing up a toaster or trying to see whether you can put your fingers into a blender when it’s on. In other words, you need to be able to second guess how the public will use a product and ensure that every eventuality is tested and confirmed to be 100% safe.

As for potential employers, you can really work for any company that produces something. Whether it’s a TV remote, a cup, a biscuit tin or a coat, they all need to be tested to ensure they are safe and to make sure they do what the company guarantees it will do.

As a result, there’s a wide array of companies out there looking to hire you, whether it’s Apple, IBM, Tesco, Acer or any other product-producing company that requires something to go on the market and be placed in the curious hands of the consumer.

We can 'assure' you that applying for a job in this field is a 'safe' bet (sorry, we couldn't resist). You’ll be taking advantage of your mechanical and analytical skills, all the while making sure that people are consistently safe and happy. Pretty ideal, we reckon!

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