|Degree Level||Associate's degree; bachelor's or master's degrees for higher-level positions|
|Degree Field(s)||Quality, mechanical, or industrial engineering|
|Licensure/Certification||Professional certification available|
|Key Skills||Problem-solving, attention to detail, organizational, and communications skills; manual dexterity and familiarity with quality testing tools and procedures|
|Job Outlook (2014-2024)||1% growth|
|Median Annual Salary (2015)||$83,470 (for industrial engineers)|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Quality engineers monitor and audit the quality of all manufactured goods in a variety of industries, including the automobile, textile, clothing, food, and electronics industries. They work to not only find defects, but also to find the cause of the defect and develop a solution. Relevant education is available at the associate through master's degree levels, and industry certifications can boost career options.
Job Description and Duties
Across all types of industry, quality engineers are at work monitoring, testing and inspecting products to make sure they meet specified standards. Quality engineers test products to determine how long they will last, what part may break down first and how to improve product durability. They inspect product materials, mechanics and electrical systems.
Materials quality engineers verify product dimensions, color, texture and strength and locate imperfections. Mechanical quality engineers check levels of liquids and gasses, verify that parts move correctly and test the proper fit of components. Electrical quality engineers check the flow of electricity and ensure the proper operation of equipment and machinery.
Quality engineers may work in laboratory settings running tests and duplicating real-world conditions. They use tools such as micrometers, calipers, gauges, volt meters, ammeters, and ohmmeters, as well as electronic inspection equipment like coordinate measuring machines (CMMs), to aid them in their work. The quality engineer also designs systems by which production quality can be checked in an ongoing process. In addition, quality engineers typically work with the production team to implement any new testing criteria or assembly methods they may have developed.
An associate's degree in quality engineering is the minimum requirement for entry-level positions in this field. A bachelor's degree in quality, mechanical or industrial engineering is required for higher-level positions. A master's degree in engineering or a Master of Science in Quality Assurance is desired for management positions.
Professional certification is available through the American Society for Quality (ASQ). The ASQ provides ten different certifications to quality engineers, including the CQE (Certified Quality Engineer) certification.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for industrial engineers, including quality engineers, were expected to increase by 1% from 2014-2024. Factors such as industry versatility and internal cost reduction drive job growth in this field, since industrial engineers can work in many industries and help businesses save money. As of 2015, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for all industrial engineers was $83,470.
Quality engineers identify and solve problems in the design and manufacturing processes and can come into the field with a minimum of an associate's degree.