While there are regulatory science programs available at universities, I find the best quality employees are those with exceptional communication skills. Degrees in communication, technical writing, marketing, and rhetoric are beneficial. Additionally, technical degrees such as statistics, biology, and chemistry are beneficial in the life science industry.

Traditionally the qualities most associated with quality professionals are fastidiousness, attention to detail, and a drive for perfection. As valuable as those traits can be, you also need problem-solving skills, communication skills, rhetorical skills, and a lot of enthusiasm to succeed in the quality field. Quality can often be seen as an adversarial environment rife with red tape. It takes a skilled communicator—adept at identifying an audience and convincing them to adhere—to get others excited about change. Meticulous review skills are also important. But don’t miss the forest for the trees and don’t stop at a bunch of individual redlines. When reviewing quality documents and procedures, you need to recognize the overall opportunity for improvement.

Lillian Erickson, MasterControl’s global quality manager