Becoming a Quality Assurance Inspector
Quality assurance inspectors examine products to ensure that they meet manufacturer guidelines and do not contain defects. Their job duties may include monitoring operations, reading blueprints, testing materials, measuring products, rejecting defective products, and reporting on product suitability to managers or other responsible parties.
Quality assurance inspectors, like other quality control inspectors, spend time in an office setting as well as on site, making evaluations of products and goods. They may be exposed to some dangerous locations and materials and must wear appropriate clothing and protective gear when completing their inspections. The majority work full-time during business days, although some night and weekend hours may be required.
|Degree Level||High school diploma; associate's and bachelor's degree programs available|
|Degree Fields||Quality assurance, quality management, quality assurance technician, manufacturing management, or a related field|
|Certification||Not required; voluntary certification available from the American Society for Quality (ASQ)|
|Experience||1-2 years' related experience|
|Key Skills||Mathematical, technical and mechanical skills, knowledge of production, processing, electronics, chemistry and computers; able to use analytic and scientific, database, programming, and spreadsheet software; use of fork and torque sensors, ultrasonic examination equipment, tension testers, and thickness measuring devices; stamina and physical strength|
|Median Salary 2018||$38,250 (for all inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
A high school diploma is usually required to become a quality assurance inspector. Associate's and bachelor's degree programs in quality assurance, quality management or manufacturing management are also available. Certification is not typically required, but voluntary certification is available from the American Society for Quality (ASQ). QA inspectors should have some key skills, such as technical and mechanical skills, knowledge of electronics, processing and computers, ability to use analytic and scientific software, and physical stamina. In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that quality control inspectors make a median annual salary of $38,250.
Earn High School Diploma
So, what are the specific steps necessary to get started in this field? A minimum of a high school diploma is required to work as a quality assurance inspector. Therefore, graduating from high school or earning a GED certificate is the first step to a career in the field. Elective math and science high school-level courses provide instruction about measurement, testing and scientific techniques. Because much of a QA inspector's job duties include measuring and testing products, these courses can provide a solid foundation for the types of tasks an individual will complete in his or her future career.
Many employers prefer candidates with at least 1-2 years of experience. In a QA inspector position, an individual may inspect electronic devices, coordinate quality control with other departments and maintain accurate testing records. Additionally, individuals can become knowledgeable about the production processes used in a particular field, such as medical equipment manufacturing.
The American Society for Quality offers multiple certifications to workers in the industry. Examples of these certifications include quality technician, quality inspector, reliability engineer, quality engineer, quality auditor and calibration technician, to name a few. Earning these certifications usually requires having related work experience and passing an exam.
Earn a Degree
Although not always required to work in the field, an associate's or bachelor's degree can lead to increased employment or advancement opportunities. Associate's degree programs are available in quality assurance, quality control and management or in quality assurance technician. These 2-year programs may include courses in inspection methods and techniques, non-destructive testing, quality planning, blueprint reading, planning for six sigma, sustainability and machine shop calculations.
Bachelor's degree programs are available in areas such as quality assurance and manufacturing management. Classes in these 4-year programs could cover topics like physics, quality control, total quality management, quality auditing and planning, interpreting technical documentation and quality improvement. Some programs may require students to complete a capstone project prior to graduation.
Some degree programs allow students to complete internships with local businesses. These internships provide students with hands-on experience working in the field and may allow for networking opportunities that could lead to employment opportunities after graduation. Students in bachelor's degree programs are sometimes allowed to conduct research independently. Experience investigating problems and finding solutions to them may be a skill that impresses employers during job interviews.
To sum up, aspiring quality assurance, or QA, inspectors often only need a high school diploma and related experience to secure a position in the field. However, a degree or voluntary certification can help job prospects.