Career Definition for a Quality Assurance Technician
With their responsibility for implementing processes and systems to ensure product quality in a variety of fields, quality assurance technicians shouldn't be confused with quality control technicians, who test individual products to find defects, according to Tech News World. For example, a quality assurance technician in a food corporation implements food-manufacturing processes that support compliance with safety standards and FDA requirements, rather than inspecting finished food items; for a medical device manufacturer, quality assurance technology puts production measures in place to promote patient safety and accurate performance of the final product; and a quality assurance technician for a software company writes use cases and automated scripts to be used for testing new software.
|Education||Bachelor's degree usually required, graduate degrees and certificates also available|
|Job Skills||Detail orientation, problem-solving, organization, team work|
|Median Salary (2019)*||$63,670 for quality assurance engineers|
Most quality assurance technicians begin with a bachelor's degree in engineering or a technical field relevant to their areas of specialty. Those looking for a leg up in the job market may pursue a graduate degree, such as the Master of Science in Quality Assurance (MSQA). Typical coursework includes Total Quality Management (TQM), a set of industry management standards designed to produce results based on customer satisfaction, measurement and testing methods, project management, and Six Sigma, a quality management strategy that focuses on identifying the causes of problems and defects in the process. Some MSQA degree holders seek post-graduate certification in quality engineering from the American Society for Quality (ASQ), though the qualification is not required to pursue a quality assurance technology career.
Quality assurance technicians should be extremely thorough and detail-oriented and should work well with established processes. Because quality assurance technology sets out to avoid defects in the final product, it's important that individuals in the quality assurance field be skilled at identifying possible problems throughout the production process and to use their intuition to problem-solve. They must also take meticulous notes, be organized about recording process steps, and work well with others, since the job involves coordinating with production teams and product managers to ensure that the right measures are put into place to align the final product with the initial goal.
Salary data for the specific job of quality assurance technician isn't available, but Salary.com reports that the median salary for the related job of quality assurance engineer was $63,670 as of March 2019. A quality assurance technology career can advance into management with ample work experience or an MSQA degree. The job of quality assurance technician can also be a useful starting point for entering other areas of a company, since comprehensive knowledge of production process and quality standards are valuable assets for joining product, programming, or manufacturing teams.
Alternate Career Options
You might want to look into these other careers in quality assurance:
A logistician monitors and keeps all the factors in a company's supply chain running efficiently, from purchasing to warehousing. Logisticians have a variety of duties, from using specialized software to perform supply chain analysis and suggest improvements, to working with vendors to improve the process for acquisition of supplies, to problem-solving that keeps manufacturing on schedule. It is possible to get a job with an associate's degree, although employers may prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree; desired areas of study include industrial engineering, business, supply chain management or process engineering. Voluntary industry certification may be earned. Logisticians can expect job growth of 7% from 2016-2026, according to the BLS; median pay was $74,590 in 2017.
Quality Control Inspector
A quality control inspector takes a look at a manufactured product using a variety of methods and tools and checks it against item blueprints or specifications to ensure it's made as it's supposed to be. When a quality control inspector detects errors, he or she reports the problem and typically works with others to identify and correct the causes. A high school diploma is the minimum education requirement, although candidates with some postsecondary vocational training or lab experience may have better job prospects; new hires receive on-the-job training. Quality control inspectors can earn voluntary industry certification. Employment is expected to decline by 11% from 2016-2026, per the BLS, and this occupation paid a median salary of $37,340 in 2017.