A quality control technician working in a laboratory ensures that the lab procedures and equipment meet a certain standard. An associate's degree is typically the minimum educational requirement, but bachelor's degrees exist as well, and may improve job prospects. These professionals must have some scientific and technical background, and be able to conduct analyses and create reports.
Quality control professionals ensure that manufactured products meet safety standards and company specifications. These professionals work in laboratories examining products, taking samples and conducting experiments. They must report imperfections and make recommendations for improvements. An associate's degree is the standard minimum educational requirement for this career, and prospects may also wish to pursue certification through the American Society of Quality.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree|
|Other Requirements||Certification may be necessary to advance career prospects|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||6.8% for life, physical, and social science technicians, all other|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$45,300 for life, physical, and social science technicians, all other|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Quality control technologists inspect finished products, checking for specified colors or textures, verifying dimensions or ensuring safety and durability. They may work in the food, medical, construction or textile industry. Quality control technologists are needed to test a variety of products such as packaged foods, household cleaning products, personal care items, or other mass produced goods.
These specialists identify imperfections using mechanical or electronic equipment or chemical analysis. They may perform routine tests to determine if the products meet certain standards. They conduct analyses of the samples, compile data and interpret the results, often using computer software. They may compute the ideal ratio of ingredients in a household cleaner, solve algebraic equations to determine the required rate of movement in the moving parts of an alarm clock or use chemical equations to determine the ideal cooking temperature of a processed food product.
Other duties might include:
- Reporting of inconsistencies, malfunctions or variations from prototype
- Written explanations of flaws
- Procedural evaluation
- Recommendation of new or revised methods for production efficiency
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Educational requirements for quality control laboratory technicians vary, but most employers prefer some college coursework. Community colleges offer an Associate of Science in Quality Assurance, which can usually be earned in two years. These degree programs introduce students to the philosophy of quality control and train them to achieve quality levels in the workplace. Students in an associate's degree program like this could expect to take classes such as:
- Quality Control Fundamentals
- Reliability Concepts
- Quality Circles
- Statistical Quality Control
- Instruments and Tools
A 4-year degree is available, which is sometimes required by employers and may improve job chances. A Bachelor of Quality Assurance prepares the aspiring lab technologist for lab management by teaching students to design, plan, procure and manage a quality assurance program. Core courses in a program such as this might cover quality planning, inspection and metrology, supplier relations, experimental design and operations management.
Professional certification is available through the American Society of Quality. The organization offers over a dozen types of certification to enhance the performance of quality control technologists, generally helping them advance to higher positions with greater responsibility and specialized knowledge. Professionals earn certification after passing an exam in their area of expertise.
Career Outlook and Salary Information
As reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the projected employment growth for all life, physical, and social science technicians who aren't otherwise categorized is 6.8% from 2014 to 2024. The same source reported that these professionals earned a median annual wage of $45,300 as of May 2015.
Job growth is expected to be as fast as the national average for quality control technicians through 2014. To work in this field, an associate's degree or bachelor's degree are sometimes required, and certification could help with advancement to a higher position. Many industries hire quality control technicians to ensure their laboratories and products meet required standards.