Quality control engineers work to ensure that manufactured goods meet all safety standards in a given industry. They need at least a bachelor's degree but are served even better by a master's degree with a concentration in quality control.
The field of quality control engineering involves testing and inspecting manufactured goods to ensure that they comply with quality and safety laws and industry standards. Quality control engineers are integral parts of production processes in several industries; they document and analyze test results and report the findings to management. A bachelor's degree meets minimum training and education requirements for the profession, but most positions also require a master's degree. Qualified engineers may pursue a professional certification.
|Required Education||A bachelor's or, ideally, a master's degree in engineering with a concentration in quality control or quality engineering|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||-0.2% (Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers & Weighers)|
|Median Annual Salary (May 2015)*||$36,000 (Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers & Weighers)|
Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics
Employers require that quality control engineers hold a bachelor's degree in engineering, preferably with a concentration in quality engineering or quality control. Requirements for a bachelor's degree program in quality control engineering include courses and labs covering quality planning and control, reliability engineering, metrology and experiment design.
Master's degree programs include courses offering advanced training and education in areas such as statistical quality control, advanced experiment design, quality function management and research. Master's degree programs also require that students gain in-depth knowledge of quality control standards such as Total Quality Management (TQM), Statistical Quality Control (SQM), ISO 9000 and Six Sigma.
Most quality control engineering training occurs on the job. Training varies widely depending on the industry, company, type of manufactured products and job responsibilities. During training, quality control engineers learn how a particular company creates and implements testing standards. On-the-job training typically involves learning to work as part of a team that may include product marketing managers, product developers and manufacturing line supervisors. Quality control engineers may learn to use specialized computer programs, electronic equipment, statistical and analytical processes, gauges, meters and other devices.
Many quality control engineers obtain certification from the American Society for Quality (ASQ). Quality control engineers must have at least eight years of total work experience and education to apply for certification. Individuals who earn a degree from a program accredited by ASQ may request a waiver for some of the eight years. The type of degree earned determines the number of years waived. ASQ certification requires passing a 5-hour test covering quality control processes and systems. Certification lasts three years, and quality control engineers must re-apply for certification to maintain it.
The employment of quality control engineers was expected to increase slower than average, mostly because more manufacturers are turning to automated inspection equipment. Between 2014 and 2024, the number of employed inspectors, sorters, testers, samplers and weighers was projected to decrease by 0.2%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2015, the BLS reported that people in this job group earned a median salary of $36,000 per year.
Quality control engineers will need at least a bachelor's degree but may also seek out a master's degree to improve their job prospects; many employers require graduate-level education. Voluntary certification can also help to increase job prospects. Candidates must have a total of eight years of work experience and education at the minimum in order to sit for the test.