Is anyone a long time quality engineer, say 15+ years, that can chime in on the positives and negatives of their decision to stay in quality?
I had a variety of problem-solving roles prior to my current (Quality) position. Sometimes the problems had an implemented solution (requiring maintenance/repair) sometimes the problems required implementation. My personal
background prior to being this sort of professional was that I had a peculiarly solid background in "problem solving theory", but the primary skill I had was the evaluation
of effectiveness of my solutions/fixes. Whatever technical experience I have was acquired through the activities that would best be described as "apprentice-like". There are a small number of skills that were developed through "hobbies". That is to say... if I was a applying for specific technical positions, I wouldn't be able to point to a program where a learned skills, instead I would have certifications (of competency, I suppose) and results!
There are times I miss
working with physical solutions, yet I found that results are improved when I have leveraged my position to get TWO (or more) people to do the same job I would have done myself! Simple quality principles (e.g. DMAIC) don't come naturally to many folks, some folks don't even recognize the value such basic principles can bring to a job! I find personal reward in getting more things done, without unnecessary effort.. and this
is what I bring in my role as a quality engineer.
Not everyone in a quality org has this freedom: I encourage my direct reports (and peers, but they report to someone else!) to spend a fraction of their billable hours considering "problems" outside of those that we are directly responsible for. This could be as simple as helping a colleague work on some sort of issue, or it could be wool-gathering (and research, I hope!) on subjects that interest them. Writing only for myself: I have learned things in areas outside my "work responsibility" that have been applicable to my "assigned work". I don't think this is unique to Quality Engineers, but I do think that a trained QE should have the framework to leverage this sort of additional information and learning.