A quality inspector thoroughly examines material goods on the production line and either approves or rejects an item based on its final quality. Although this is often a management-level position, a high school diploma is usually the only education required for this career; some employers, however, might prefer hiring a candidate who has completed some form of postsecondary education.
Quality inspectors are responsible for assuring that manufactured items are made and assembled correctly. They also make sure that the products meet government standards and safety regulations. Education and training for this position vary based on the specific industry and job responsibilities. Many employers require only a high school diploma or equivalent.
|Required Education||High school diploma or equivalent, some employers may require postsecondary education|
|Certifications||Optional American Society for Quality certification|
|Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)||-18% for all inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers and weighers*|
|Median Annual Salary (2018)||$38,250 annually for inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers and weighers*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Job Description and Duties
Quality inspectors work with manufacturing professionals during the production process, often approving the quality of raw materials before manufacturing begins. When production is completed, quality inspectors are responsible for a final in-depth inspection, before signing off and approving the product. More importantly, quality inspectors find the faults in both materials and the manufacturing process. Correcting those faults ensures a better finished product for prospective consumers.
When a product is completed, a quality inspector tests the performance to determine if it meets manufacturer and industry standards. If a product does not meet specific standards, recommendations are made to improve the quality of a product.
Besides having an understanding of the product or service, a quality inspector must also be adept at the tools of the trade. Because many industry standards depend on weights and measurements, a variety of calibration tools may be necessary.
In the service industry, quality inspectors must be able to connect with customers in order to gauge satisfaction, identify problems, and work on a systematic approach to solve those problems with employees and management.
Educational and Other Requirements
Educational requirements to become a quality inspector vary, depending on the industry. While some employers require only a high school education, others demand extensive post-secondary education and training. Food or perfume industries may require an inspector with a sophisticated palate or sense of smell. Quality inspectors usually start at the manufacturing or management level, where they begin the process of learning about a specific business or industry. Rarely, is this considered to be an entry-level position.
Organizations, such as the American Society for Quality (ASQ), offer certification for a quality inspector, quality control engineer, calibration technician and auditor.
Employment and Salary Information
Demand for quality control inspectors is not likely to increase between 2018 and 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). The lack of growth can be partially attributed to automated inspectors and inspection duties being delegated to other workers, but there will still be a need for inspectors to do things that machines can't.
In 2018, the BLS reported the average salary for inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers and weighers was $20.20 per hour or $42,010 annually. The 2018 average annual salary was higher in the electric power generation, transmission and distribution industries, as those professionals made an average of $70,600 per year, based on data from the BLS.
A quality inspector needs to be familiar with the manufacturing process and know how to operate a variety of industry tools, such as those used for calibration purposes. Aspiring quality inspectors can obtain optional certification through an organization like the American Society for Quality in order to possibly increase their chances of employment. The BLS reports that there will be a decline change in job growth for inspectors between 2018-2028, due in large part to advances in technology that has automated many quality inspection duties.