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Quality Assurance Jobs in Cannabis and Pharmaceutical Industries

Quality Assurance jobs in Canada

Introduction

For a company to achieve its business objectives, high levels of quality are essential. High quality is not an added value but it is an essential basic requirement. Quality provides a competitive advantage and is a hallmark of any company’s products and services. Quality is not only related to the end products and services a company provides, but it also conveys the way the company employees do their job. Employees make up the most important resource for improving quality. The work processes that the employees follow need to be efficient and continually improving so as to produce quality products or services. Quality, therefore, is an overarching and driving force propelling organizations forward.

What is Quality Assurance?

Quality Assurance (QA) is part of the manufacturing quality system. Quality Assurance operates at the level of manufacturing processes and procedures seeking to maintain the quality of the finished product. It is process-oriented and aims at eliminating process variation by creating, revising and rigorously implementing a set of tightly and precisely defined processess and procedures that when exactly followed, ensure the final quality of the product.

Quality Assurance concentrates on areas such as inspection of raw materials, monitoring and inspection of the production processes, documenting procedures, and implementation of production measures. The eventual aim of Quality Assurance is to implement standard processes that allow replicable results within the manufacturing process to produce a finished product that meets all industry standards.

Discussion

Why is quality assurance critical in the cannabis industry?

When it comes to the cannabis industry, quality assurance ensures that every step of the production, harvesting, and packaging process is checked to guarantee cannabis product safety and consistency.

QA system in the cannabis industry supports continuous improvement, reliable data sets and the very best in business practices. The implementation of quality assurance will help the growth and sustainability of the industry by transforming the production, market and research of cannabis. Quality assurance is therefore critical in ensuring a successful and thriving business within the rapidly evolving cannabis industry.

A quality assurance system minimizes risk by adhering to proper procedures to produce reliable data. Any product issues, recalls, and lawsuits cost organizations great amounts of time and money. It also causes immeasurable damage to the brand and industry. In many ways, quality assurance can be summarized as “say what you do, and do what you say”.

What are the job roles in Quality Assurance?

Quality Assurance Specialist

This role is also called Quality Assurance (QA) Associate or Quality Assurance Technician by some companies. A QA Specialist checks the implementation of the quality system, conducts quality assurance audits and monitors and records results from processes and procedures within manufacturing industries. They constantly compare results to predetermined expected ranges and take corrective measures if any deviation is found. These quality checks ensure the ongoing reliability of the manufacturing process.

Quality Assurance Specialists carry out tasks that may vary depending on the type of product being manufactured. For example, a QA Specialist working in a cannabis company may have to perform the following specific tasks:

  • Provide QA support to all cultivation, manufacturing and warehouse activities occurring in extraction, processing and packaging
  • Perform in-process checks to correct any potential defects or discrepancy during manufacturing and ensure full compliance with Good Production Practices (GPP)
  • Conduct line clearance verification to prevent product mix-ups and contamination
  • Ensure the facility sanitation program is well monitored

Quality Assurance Specialists working in the cannabis and pharmaceutical companies may have to carry out additional tasks that include:

  • Audit the company processes to ensure adherence to regulations and standards
  • Inspect processes and procedures to ensure measurements comply with predefined standards
  • Review and maintain QA, manufacturing and audit documentation
  • Ensure compliance of company processes to cGMP regulations
  • Review third party lab test results, logbooks and batch records and ensure compliance with good documentation practices
  • Ensure full implementation of company standard operating procedures
  • Investigate test results that deviate from standards
  • Coordinate investigation of quality issues with customers and suppliers
  • Review, approve and communicate root cause and corrective action to stakeholders
QA Specialist
Reviewing cGMP documents to ensure company processes comply is one of the tasks conducted by a QA Specialist

The key skills required for someone working in quality assurance include:

  • Critical/logical thinking – ability to identify problems and provide new solutions to ensure efficiency and quality of the manufacturing process
  • Keen attention to detail –able to identify non-compliant processes and able to read and interpret guidance and industry regulations
  • Analytical skills – good at compiling and interpreting data and identifying trends and outliers
  • Organizational skills – keeps track of test results, documentation, and recommendations
  • Excellent written communication – writes concise and accurate documentation, reviews internal and external guidance, and potentially writes company SOPs
  • Interpersonal skills – trains production and other staff on quality systems and works closely with others to find and correct errors in the processes

Quality Assurance Manager

The exact duties of a Quality Assurance Manager vary from company to company. However, typical responsibilities of the job include:

  • Monitor testing and inspection of products and materials to ensure the finished product meets quality standards
  • Design, implement and improve company quality standards
  • Train, motivate, and coach employees to ensure that standards are met
  • Review processes in order to ensure that they align with current trends
  • Determine, negotiate and agree on in-house quality procedures, standards, and specifications
  • Encourage change and improvement in performance and quality
  • Specify quality requirements of raw materials with suppliers
  • Assess customer requirements and ensure that these are met

Key skills for Quality Assurance Managers include:

  • Ability to make decisions and to communicate them effectively
  • Excellent technical skills
  • Analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Good numerical skills and an understanding of statistics
  • Planning and organization skills
  • Interpersonal and teamwork skills
Quality Assurance Managers
Quality Assurance Managers work with other staff to establish procedures and quality standards and monitor these against agreed targets.

Quality Assurance Person (QAP)

Under the Cannabis Act & Regulations, a holder of a license for processing cannabis must retain the services of one individual as a Quality Assurance Person who has the training, experience, and technical knowledge related to the requirements of Part 5 of the Cannabis Regulations (Good Production Practices) and Part 6 (Cannabis Products).

The Quality Assurance Person is responsible for:

  • Assuring the quality of the cannabis before it is made available for sale
  • Investigating every complaint received in respect of the quality of the cannabis and, if necessary, immediately taking measures to mitigate any risk by taking any necessary corrective and preventative measures
  • Investigating and taking measures to mitigate any risk if they suspect, on reasonable grounds, that the cannabis or anything that will be used as an ingredient presents a risk of injury to human health or that the applicable requirements of Part 5 or 6 are otherwise not being met

Key skills for Quality Assurance Person:

  • Previous work experience in quality control or quality assurance position at a site where regulated products are manufactured
  • Sufficient quality assurance experience in Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), Good Production Practices (GPP), Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), or Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) regulated environments
  • Experience relating to the product classes and activities under the cannabis license.
  • Demonstrated good leadership skills
  • Experience leading and/or training a team of individuals in quality assurance or quality control
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Strong critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Positive attitude when it comes to embracing new methods, ideas, and processes

Quality Assurance Person Qualifications:

  • Degree in a field of science related to the work to be carried out (agriculture, biology, chemistry, etc.)
  • Education on quality assurance operations through graduate / post-secondary diploma and certificate programs or through training programs and seminars / webinars
  • Knowledge and understanding of the applicable legislation around cannabis, as well as the entire production process that will take place on-site, from receipt of raw material to release and sale of the finished product
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Ontario Job Grant - NACPT Pharma College

Job market demands for Quality Assurance - Cannabis across Canada for various province/cities

People working as Quality Assurance – Cannabis have different job prospects depending on where they work in Canada. The following table was extracted from Job Bank, the Government of Canada’s leading source of jobs and labor market information in Canada. These prospects were published in December 2019 based on information available at that time.

Job opportunities over the next 3 years:

Location

Job prospects

Alberta

Fair

British Columbia

Fair

Manitoba

Fair

New Brunswick

Good

Newfoundland and Labrador

Undetermined

Northwest Territories

Undetermined

Nova Scotia

Undetermined

Nunavut

Undetermined

Ontario

Fair

Prince Edward Island

Undetermined

Quebec

Good

Saskatchewan

Fair

Yukon Territory

Undetermined

Undetermined: An employment outlook has not been assigned to this occupation in this region due to low levels of employment.

Fair: The following factors contributed to this outlook:

  • Employment growth will lead to a moderate number of new positions.
  • Several positions will become available due to retirements.
  • There are a moderate number of unemployed workers with recent experience in this occupation.

Good: The following factors contributed to this outlook:

  • Employment growth will lead to several new positions.
  • Several positions will become available due to retirements.
  • There are a small number of unemployed workers with recent experience in this occupation.

According to the Government of Canada Job Bank website, the establishment of the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) and the legalization of recreational marijuana have been reported to have led to numerous investments in this sub-industry. This would lead to more job prospects in the industry.

Pharmaceutical manufacturing, according to the Government of Canada Job Bank website, has also seen some growth over the last few years. This area is expected to continue to grow due to greater demand for pharmaceutical products, increased sales of generic drugs, growth of biopharmaceuticals and biosimilars, as well as the expanding field of nanopharmaceuticals.

How much do these jobs pay?

According to the Government of Canada Job Bank website, Quality Assurance Managers – Cannabis usually earn between $28.85/hour and $76.92/hour in Canada.

The following table extracted from the Government of Canada Job Bank website listshow much workers earned in different provinces and regions in Canada.

Community/Area

Wages ($/hour)

Low

Median

High

Canada

28.85

49.04

76.92

Alberta

20.85

57.69

101.92

British Columbia

28.85

44.62

69.71

Manitoba

N/A

N/A

N/A

New Brunswick

32.00

45.00

63.57

Newfoundland and Labrador

32.00

45.00

63.57

Northwest Territories

N/A

N/A

N/A

Nova Scotia

32.00

45.00

63.57

Nunavut

N/A

N/A

N/A

Ontario

34.52

49.04

67.31

Prince Edward Island

N/A

N/A

N/A

Quebec

28.85

52.20

76.92

Saskatchewan

N/A

N/A

N/A

Yukon Territory

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A: Data not available

Who can target these jobs?

Job seekers targeting QA jobs may need a university/college degree/diploma or equivalent professional experience in a natural or applied science (e.g., chemistry, biology, food/pharmaceutical sciences, or a related field).

If you are targeting QA jobs in the cannabis industry, you may require 1-3+ years’ experience in the legal cannabis, agriculture, food, or pharmaceutical industry. You would also require knowledge, training, and significant experience in Good Production Practices (GPP) and/or Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and other regulatory standards. Knowledge of analytical chemistry/microbiology and extraction systems would be considered an asset.

How can NACPT help you in finding QA jobs?

NACPT trains its students with sufficient and updated industrial skills. This enables NACPT students to secure most employment opportunities in various sectors including leading cannabis, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, nutraceutical, food, cosmetic, and medical device companies.

NACPT provides its graduates with maximum access to various companies through job fairs, direct access to employers, practical placements, internships, co-ops, alumni events, networking events, industrials workshops, and conferences. Over the years, NACPT has brought in the greatest number of recruiting companies including its partnered companies, to place its students in safe and secure firms.

NACPT also conducts a unique job/development program for its students. This program which is optional and for free is led and delivered by NACPT’s team of expert faculties to equip the students with all the potentials required in the industry. In this program, NACPT’s graduates are given an opportunity to work with a career coach on a one-to-one basis. Hands-on training is given to the students during the training sessions. As part of the job development program, NACPT graduates are also given access to network with industry experts, career coaches, and employment centers through workshops, alumni events, and guest speaker sessions from the industry. For further details see Job Development (nacptpharmacollege.com)

About Us

NACPT is a leading career college in Canada that provides in-depth skill training in pharmaceutical, cannabis, business, technology and related fields to maximize the job and business opportunities within the target industries. NACPT has offered specialized Certificate, Graduate and Postgraduate diploma programs in the pharmaceutical and cannabis industries for over ten years. We also offer various cannabis skills training and business incubation programs in the related industries. As a college with affiliations of highly reputable organizations, NACPT provides analytical testing, consulting services and research & development in the pharmaceutical, cannabis and other sectors.

For those interested in learning more about cannabis analytical testing requirements, Cannabis Quality Control and Quality Assurance, we invite you to our 1-4 days comprehensive certification training – Online Interactive Instructor-Led Webinar:

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