Becoming a Quality Technician: Job Description & Salary Info

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A quality technician's annual salary is around $34,000. Is it worth the training requirements? See real job descriptions and get the truth about career prospects to find out if becoming a quality technician is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Quality Technician Career

Quality technicians, also referred to as quality control inspectors, examine products and materials for flaws and deviations. Review the pros and cons of a quality technician career to determine if it's the best path for you.

Pros of a Quality Technician Career
A high school diploma and experience may be sufficient for an entry-level position*
Quality workers are employed in a variety of industries, including electronics and food processing*
May advance to an engineering, supervisor or management position**
Professional certifications are available*

Cons of a Quality Technician Career
Slow job growth (6% from 2012 and 2022)*
Some manufacturing environments are loud and dirty*
Production deadlines may require overtime hours*
Some positions are physically demanding*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Career Development Center.

Essential Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Quality technicians use blueprints, customer specifications and drawings to determine the criteria to evaluate in a quality inspection. They develop instructions for inspections and audits for quality assurance inspectors. Quality technicians analyze inspection data to identify trends and problems with a production process.

Technicians must have the ability to use a variety of tools and gauges to measure products. Automated inspection equipment is also available in some industries. Some technicians or inspectors perform quality audits on products to ensure that it meets specifications. Employers may require quality technicians write work instructions for production employees, issue corrective actions and ensure test equipment is calibrated.

Job Prospects and Salary Info

Quality inspection employees work primarily in the manufacturing industry, which is facing a decline in job growth. The expected growth for quality inspection positions is 6% from 2012 and 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). The annual median salary for inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers and weighers was $35,330 in 2014, according to the bureau.

What Are the Requirements?

Education

You may consider associate's or certificate programs. These programs may cover areas like engineering technology or quality systems. Associate's programs may include general education coursework in math and communication. Coursework related to quality assurance may include topics in statistical process control, manufacturing practices and quality improvement techniques, such as Six Sigma. Some certificate programs may offer different certification levels.

Experience

You may qualify for a quality technician position with a high school diploma and experience in the field. Some employers train quality inspectors to use inspection equipment, such as calipers, computers, meters and gauges, on the job. Technicians must be knowledgeable in reading blueprints and customer specifications to inspect products.

What Are Employers Looking For?

Employers may require job candidates to have experience in their industry. Candidates without experience may qualify for a position after completing a quality technician certificate program or with a degree in quality management. Below are examples of quality technician postings available in April 2012:

  • An employer in Wisconsin in the manufacturing industry is looking for a quality technician to monitor, evaluate and update inspection criteria in their production facility. The candidate must have a high school education, but an associate's degree is preferred. In addition, applicants must have a professional certification from the American Society for Quality.
  • An Illinois employer in the engineering services and manufacturing industry is seeking a quality control technician to conduct inspections of incoming materials, in-process products and finished goods. The candidate must have a high school education and the ability to read blueprints and engineering drawings.
  • An employer in Missouri in the food manufacturing industry is searching for a quality technician to monitor temperatures, weights, lot numbers and the formulas for products. To be considered for the position, the candidate must have a high school diploma and one to two years experience in a food-manufacturing environment.
  • A Michigan employer is looking for a quality technician to perform incoming, in-process and final inspections in their manufacturing facility. The candidate must have an associate's degree or an equivalent amount of experience. In addition, the employer requires a minimum of five years experience in quality control and automotive manufacturing.

How to Gain an Edge over the Competition

A certificate from the American Society for Quality may help you stand out among other job candidates for a quality technician position. The organization offers the Certified Quality Technician credential to those with four years of work experience or higher education in quality. Applicants with an associate's degree are required to have two years experience and those with a bachelor's degree or higher must have at least one year of quality experience.

Alternative Careers to Consider

Engineering Technician

If a career providing data for engineers interests you but the salary is not what you require, a position as an engineering technician might fit your needs better. Engineering technicians can work in a variety of engineering disciplines, such as mechanical, electrical and electronics. An associate's degree in engineering technology is required for a position in the field. The annual median salary for an electronics-engineering technician in 2011 was $57,000 and mechanical engineering techs earned $51,000.

Industrial Engineer

Industrial engineering provides an opportunity to improve production processes and efficiency in an organization. Industrial engineers work with customer specifications to improve the quality of products and processes. An entry-level position as an industrial engineer requires a minimum of a bachelor's degree education, but the median annual salary in 2011 was $77,000.

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