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Career Definition for a Quality Control Technician
Working in an impressive variety of settings, quality control technicians are responsible for maintaining quality-assurance processes, testing products, and recording and analyzing results data during product development and manufacturing. The products being tested can range from healthcare equipment to apparel to food items, depending on the industry in which the quality control technician works. Reporting to a quality control engineer, quality control technicians follow through on set processes and ensure adherence to best production practices and product quality standards, as well as monitoring the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of product output.
|Required Education||Employers require a 2-year associate's degree as a minimum|
|Job Duties||Include maintaining quality-assurance processes, testing products, and recording data during product development and manufacturing|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$53,780 (all industrial engineering technicians)|
|Job Outlook (2014-2024)*||5% decrease (all industrial engineering technicians)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), reports that employers require at least a two-year associate's degree for most industrial engineering technology positions, including quality control technician jobs. Students can find programs accredited by the Technology Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) at community colleges and technical institutes (www.abet.org). Laboratory work in quality control technology is an important part of the degree curriculum. Working quality control technicians can earn quality technician certification from the American Society for Quality (ASQ), as long as they have completed four years of education and on-the-job experience to qualify for the certification examination, though some exceptions do exist (www.asq.org).
Quality control technicians must be meticulous in their work, skilled in quality processes and statistical techniques, and knowledgeable about measurement and test equipment (MT&E) and failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) concepts, according to the ASQ. Attention to detail and an aptitude for working with data are pluses, and a solid grasp of the sciences, and basic engineering concepts is helpful. Because quality control technicians often work as part of an integrated team, excellent interpersonal and communication skills are also crucial.
The BLS predicts a 5% decrease in industrial engineering technician positions between 2014 and 2024, and those with this career, which includes quality control technicians, enjoyed annual median earnings of $53,780 in 2015, though salaries depended on experience and industry. Quality control technicians looking to advance their careers can pursue quality control engineering jobs with further education (a bachelor's or master's degree in engineering); however, opportunities for advancement are also plentiful through work experience. Some quality control technicians aim for more senior positions in quality control production management, while others look to become supervisors or lead inspection teams.
Alternate Career Options
Here are some examples of alternative career options:
Quality Control Inspector
With a high school diploma or its equivalent in addition to on-the-job training, aspiring inspectors can enter this occupation. Quality control inspectors check materials and products for defects in workmanship, also looking for those that don't meet industry specifications. Little or no change in employment growth was forecast by the BLS from 2014-2024 for all inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers - which includes quality control inspectors. These professions paid an annual median wage of $36,000 in 2015.
These professionals earn bachelor's degrees in general engineering or industrial engineering technology, in addition to degrees in industrial, mechanical or manufacturing engineering. Their work entails discovering methods to streamline production processes and eliminate waste. The BLS revealed an annual median salary of $83,470 in 2015 for industrial engineers, and it projected a slower-than-average increase in jobs of 1% from 2014-2024.