Quality control inspectors work in the manufacturing industry to reduce the potential for errors in making a product. Applicants seeking quality control engineering or industrial production management positions should have a bachelor's (4-year program) or master's (2-year program) degree. Entrance to a bachelor's program requires a high-school diploma, while those entering master's programs need to have their bachelor's. Some employers request applicants to have additional laboratory work experience with biological or natural sciences.
Many quality control employers require candidates to be familiar with the specific industrial trade, although some employers prefer on-site training for employees. They also need to know how to interpret blueprints, manuals, and other data-based specifications. Completion of the American Society for Quality (ASQ) certification exams may be required for some jobs. Certain employers also require candidates to know how to use specific inspection equipment, such as calipers, gauge pins, and micrometers. Candidates should also know how to conduct internal auditing per ISO 9000 standards, as well other quality management systems (QMS). Quality control managers should have at least 5 years of experience.
Bachelor's Degree Programs in Quality Control
A 4-year bachelor's degree program in quality control prepares students for entry-level careers in the development, design, and manufacturing aspects of products and service. Students learn about quality management and standards, including ISO 9000 and Six Sigma. Common courses covered include:
- Measurement science
- Value-based quality
- Technical communication
- Systems failure analysis
Master Degree Programs in Quality Control
Students enrolled in a 2-year master's degree program in quality assurance learn technical and administrative aspects of quality control. Most students possess undergraduate degrees in quality assurance, biology, chemistry, bioengineering, chemical engineering or biotechnology. Before graduating, students must know how to perform quality cost analysis, develop sampling plans, manage an organization, and implement a quality control program. Typical coursework for a master's degree program includes:
- Quality project management
- Customer satisfaction
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) gauges the median wage for quality control inspectors at $36,000 and median wage for industrial production managers at $93,940 in 2015 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also estimates a 4% decline for production managers between 2014-2024, and a 0% growth rate for quality control inspectors over the same decade.
The American Society for Quality (ASQ) offers 15 separate types of certification for quality control workers. Applicants must complete a specific number of years of work experience before they can sit for the examination. To become certified, applicants must take a 3-5 hour examination, depending upon the certification. Certifications are valid for three years, after which applicants must apply for recertification. Those already working in quality control can enroll in additional certificate programs, which take as little as one semester to complete.
In addition, professional organizations offer 1-2 day workshops where quality control technicians can learn about safety and environmental impacts and regulatory changes. Annual conferences for quality control managers provide speakers who discuss project management, avoiding human error, strategic planning, and technological advances. Private businesses also offer webinars, or online conferences, where workers learn about regulatory requirements and improving safety in the workplace.
Aspiring quality control inspectors can look into bachelor's and master's programs in the field. The former prepares students for entry-level employment in quality control, while the ladder may provide a better stepping stone for higher-level positions in production management.