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In my April 2013 column, I explained Ten Reasons to Invest in Yourself. Due to the number of comments and follow up questions, I thought it worthwhile to do a sequel.
While much of my career has been spent in quality engineering and management roles, I came to understand, appreciate, advocate and promote the greater role of the quality profession. Many organizations have come to recognize the flexibility and versatility of their quality professionals and the value they bring to the party, and a host of companies place a high level of importance on their quality professionals becoming certified by an independent body like the American Society for Quality (ASQ).
In addition to the reasons discussed in April, the following explains why a person should become certified and why organizations should encourage their people to do so.
Improve organizational effectiveness. More teams and individual employees are being assessed for quality, internal/external customer satisfaction, cost-effectiveness and technological literacy. Why? Because more organizations are placing greater emphasis on controlling product and service quality at the source. Front-line personnel find themselves indispensable in this process. Being trained and independently certified as a manager of quality and organizational excellence, quality engineer, reliability engineer, quality technician, quality auditor, quality inspector, Six Sigma green belt, Six Sigma black belt, quality improvement associate, quality process analyst, etc., adds tremendous insight and capability to their performance.
Follow an established body of knowledge. If quality is a profession, then quality professionals should work from an established and evolving body of knowledge. A person’s level of knowledge should be measured by their proficiency of a body of knowledge such as those required by ASQ.
Keep up with the profession. The challenge for the rapidly evolving quality profession is to keep up with change. The quality profession isn’t disappearing but becoming operational. Each person and team is responsible for the quality of their processes and the ensuing products.
Follow the leaders. Over my 47 years of experience and more than 35 years as an ASQ member and certified quality professional, I’ve talked with hundreds of ASQ-certified professionals regarding the value of certifications. While the results are informal, the majority values their ASQ certification and can quantify that value. An increasing number of individuals, especially supervisors and managers, recommend and/or require certification.
Invest in something valuable. Technical training has become more valuable, and a person with a technical education and skills is immediately employable. Some college programs are encouraging students to take an ASQ Quality Improvement Associate (CQIA) or Quality Process Analyst (CQPA) exam prior to graduation because it makes them more marketable.
Apply practical skills. Organizations focus on short-term quality projects to gain demonstrable results. They identify a chronic problem, collect data, implement short-term actions and use the improvement results to foster a change in thinking. The goal is to eliminate the root cause of the problem. Quality professionals work at the center of this problem-solving, project approach.
Increase organizational exposure. Competitiveness requires full participation and customer awareness by all employees. They must know who their customers are, their requirements and how to satisfy them. Both established and new employees are expected to have quality and customer skills to do their jobs. All levels of quality professionals often train front-line team members in team skills, computer process applications, customer focus, and quality literacy.
Enhance professional recognition. ASQ certifications promote lifelong learning. They also provide an inside track to jobs and greatly enhance a person’s reputation as a professional.
Get paid to learn. Many organizations have instituted pay for learning to motivate and reward people. Students increase their skills, knowledge and salaries. The company gains improved performance, quality-trained employees, a flexible work force, and increased morale. Everyone wins!
Become an internal consultant. ISO 9000 policies, procedures and work instructions often state that process owners are responsible for their processes—including quality. To carry out quality functions, operating teams need quality experience and leaders.
Start at the top. Organizations use professional certifications to set salaries and gauge workplace competencies as well as their employees’ commitment to self-improvement, initiative, and value. Why not leverage certifications to increase your earning power?
Follow the money. Higher salaries, improved working conditions, and increased status induce people to become quality technicians, engineers, and consultants. More administrative, production and operating jobs require extensive quality knowledge and abilities, mainly because of automation and electronic control systems, many of which have quality tools embedded in them. Also, the graying of the current technical work force has opened up more work opportunities.
Quality professionals should seek every opportunity to demonstrate to their organizations that they are uniquely qualified to teach, coach, mentor and consult to enlighten others. Becoming professionally certified in one or more of the quality sciences is just one way to demonstrate that value!
For the original column, Ten Reasons to Invest in Yourself, see www.qualitymag.com/articles/91035-ten-reasons-to-invest-in-yourself.