Career Definition for a Quality Engineer
Comprising the areas of quality assurance and quality control, quality engineering governs the manufacturing processes and testing procedures that ensure that products fulfill both quality standards and safety regulations. Working closely with manufacturers, developers, and product managers, quality engineers are responsible for regulating, overseeing, documenting, and analyzing quality assurance procedures and quality control testing of final products. A career in quality engineering offers many different paths in a variety of settings: for instance, a quality engineer may focus on identifying and implementing quality assurance measures in a software development process, testing food and healthcare products for compliance with FDA regulations, or inspecting clothing or home goods for defects before releasing them for retail.
|Required Education||A bachelor's degree in engineering as a minimum|
|Job Duties||Include regulating, overseeing, and analyzing quality assurance procedures and quality control testing final products|
|Median Salary (2019)*|| $71,535 (all engineers, electronics industry)
$78,320 (all software quality engineers)
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)**||8% growth (all engineers)|
Source: *PayScale.com and **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
All aspiring quality engineers should complete a bachelor's degree program in engineering, and most continue their training for two to three more years to earn a master's or doctoral degree. It's prudent for individuals to focus on a branch of engineering relevant to their desired industry, and quality control laboratory experience is very helpful in applying for jobs.
Many quality engineers also seek professional certification from the American Society for Quality (ASQ); to take the exam, applicants must have eight years of education and work experience in the industry (though the ASQ offers exceptions to those with a degree from an accredited program). The certification is valid for three years after passing the examination.
Attention to detail is one of the most important skills in an effective quality engineer, and excellent problem-solving abilities must be utilized consistently, according to Biohealthmatics (www.biohealthmatics.com). Because quality engineers work across many teams in an organization, a natural ability to communicate and collaborate with others is also crucial. Industry-specific skills are also needed on top of a broad knowledge of the sciences: in software engineering, for example, an intuitive grasp of user behavior and software development best practices is needed, while a quality engineer in apparel manufacturing must understand fabrics, proportions, and common wear-and-tear for particular garments.
Career and Economic Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), most engineering fields will experience an 8%, or fast as average, rate of growth overall between 2016 and 2026, although some may grow as quickly as the average for all occupations. Salaries for quality engineers depend on the industry in which they work; for example, PayScale.com reported that quality engineers in the electronics industry earned a median of $71,535 as of March 2019, while quality engineers who work with software earned a median of $78,320 as of April 2019.
Alternate Career Options
Here are some examples of alternative career options:
Occupational Health and Safety Specialist
In this career, workers evaluate workplaces to determine whether or not they meet established health and safety regulations and standards. Occupational health and safety specialists may review work procedures or hazardous materials exposure, or they may conduct occupational safety training sessions and accident investigations.
Employers typically require that candidates have a bachelor's degree in a related field; on-the-job training is commonly required. Voluntary professional certification is available and may be preferred by employers. The BLS expects employment to increase 8% from 2016-2026 for this occupation; the median pay rate was $73,020 in 2018.
Cost estimators review a particular project or service and measure each of the required component parts to come up with a total figure that calculates how much it will cost and how long it will take. Depending on the field they work in - like construction or manufacturing - cost estimators may travel to building sites, talk to engineers or architects, use computer software programs or review blueprints.
A bachelor's degree in a relevant field, usually with an emphasis on math, is generally required. Previous relevant employment experience is also sometimes required. Professional voluntary certification may be earned. The BLS expects that employment will increase 11% from 2016-2026 for this occupation, and cost estimators earned median pay of $64,040 in 2018.