Quality control is essential for a smooth-running business, as failure to meet customers' expectations can lose income, materials, and customer loyalty. While there is no required degree program to find a position in quality assurance (QA), having experience or some kind of quality certification can be extremely useful for breaking into the job market.
QA technicians implement controls and standards for products and services in fields like manufacturing and software engineering. They may answer customer calls and test products for consistency. Some quality assurance technicians need only a high school diploma, whereas others may need a degree in chemistry, engineering or computer science. Quality assurance-related bachelor's, master's and doctoral programs exist. Qualified candidates might pursue a voluntary certification.
|Required Education||Varies according to the position and industry; high school diploma or degree in a relevant field|
|Certification||Voluntary certification available|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||0% for quality control inspectors|
|Median Annual Salary (2015)*||$36,000 for inspectors, testers, weighers, samplers and sorters|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Education Requirements of a Quality Assurance Technician
The education level necessary for quality assurance technicians is specific to the industry in which one works. QA technicians who perform simple pass/fail tests on products often need only a high school diploma. Employment in more technical fields like chemical or computer manufacturing might require a degree in chemistry, engineering or computer science. Likewise, quality assurance technicians working in food manufacturing or agriculture might benefit from a degree program in nutrition or food safety management. Additionally, some colleges and universities award bachelor's, master's or doctoral degrees in quality assurance or quality management.
Quality assurance technicians may earn voluntary national certification through the American Society for Quality. It offers the Certified Quality Technician credential, in addition to more than a dozen other specialized certifications, such as Certified Calibration Technician and Certified Quality Auditor.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not have data specific to QA technicians; however they do group this field with inspectors, testers, weighers, samplers and sorters. Overall, the BLS does not expect positive growth for this field; employment for quality control inspectors is projected to remain constant between 2014 and 2024, due primarily to increased automation in the manufacturing world in addition to the increasing trend of integration of quality control in the production process.
According to the BLS, in May 2015 the median annual wage of inspectors, testers, weighers, samplers and sorters, including quality assurance technicians, was $36,000. The industries paying the highest salaries were electric power generation, transmission and distribution, with a mean annual wage of $69,910, followed by insurance carriers, whose workers brought home an average salary of $66,990.
The amount of education required for a QA inspector varies; some positions are available with only a high school diploma, while more technology-oriented fields might call for a degree. Demand for is expected to remain steady, but not grow. Adding a certification can greatly improve employment opportunities.