Manufacturing Quality Technician
A manufacturing quality technician works with quality engineers to improve efficiency or performance of machinery, personnel, and process controls. Duties can vary by area of manufacturing and employer; however, it is common for workers in this occupation to take measurements using physical or electronic tools and instruments or monitor electronic systems that carry out these tasks automatically. Jobs in this field may require hours of sitting or standing, as well as heavy lifting or reading data and writing reports. Manufacturing settings can be noisy places to work. Protective gear is sometimes required in places where hazards may be present. Evening, weekend, and overtime shifts may be necessary.
|Education Level||High school diploma or equivalent; for some positions, postsecondary education is helpful|
|Licensure and/or Certification||Optional certification is available through the American Society for Quality (ASQ)|
|Experience||Varies by employer|
|Key Skills||Dexterity, math skills, physical strength and stamina; knowledge of how to use circuit boards, processors, microchips, analytic software, CAD software, database user interface and query software; able to read and understand blueprints, manuals, schematics, and other technical documents; know how to use calipers, comparators, gauges, and other machinery needed for quality assessment|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$36,000 (for all quality control inspectors)|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Society for Quality, Job postings for October 2016, O*Net OnLine
Step 1: Determine Education Goals
Employers may prefer job candidates with a degree or a certificate, but some may only require a high school diploma or GED. Degree and certificate programs are available in quality technology, although other engineering technology degrees may be acceptable. Education programs in quality technology often have courses in statistics, dimensional metrology, inspection methods, mechanical measurements, and engineering drawing.
As a student, it can be helpful to take high school coursework in math and sciences. A student preparing for a career as a manufacturing quality technician will need to develop strong mathematical skills and the ability to use technical equipment. Some states offer vocational programs at the high school level for students preparing to enter the manufacturing industry.
Step 2: Gain Work Experience
After securing an entry-level job, manufacturing employers may provide on-the-job training that is specific to quality control for their plant or industry. According to assorted job listings from 2016, skills and knowledge that may be required for this job include computer skills, capability with inspection software programs, familiarity with quality control terminology, math and analytical skills, knowledge about test procedures, metrology and calibration skills, use of electrical and mechanical test equipment, and the ability read and understand schematics and other technical documents.
One way to possibly prepare for the needed skills of this technician position, is to consider getting an internship or apprenticeship. Some colleges, companies, and government agencies offer internships and apprenticeships designed to give students experience in the manufacturing industry. These apprenticeships typically include training in the technical skills needed to be an effective manufacturing quality technician.
Step 3: Consider Certification
The ASQ (American Society of Quality) offers a Certified Quality Technician (CQT) certification which may be required by some employers. Requirements for this certification include a combination of four years of education and work experience related to quality control and a passing score on an exam. The exam covers basic inspection techniques, testing equipment, quality auditing, and corrective actions.
Step 4: Pursue Career Advancement
Career advancement is possible through experience, continued education, and certifications. Experience alone may suffice to transition to higher-level technician positions needing less supervision. Other relevant certifications beyond the CQT credential are also available from ASQ, such as Certified Quality Engineer, which requires eight years of on-the-job experience and education. This certification also requires three years in a decision-making position, which can include supervisory positions.
In summary, a career as a manufacturing quality technician may only require a high school diploma or GED. However, advancement in the field will likely necessitate some postsecondary education, several years of experience, and earning certifications in order to have the skills and knowledge to successfully inspect and measure products, record data, observe quality standards, and use industry-related tools and procedures.