Quality Assurance Technician Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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What are the pros and cons of becoming a quality assurance technician? Check out some real job descriptions to get the truth about career prospects and learn if becoming a quality assurance technician is right for you.
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Quality Assurance Technician: Pros and Cons

Quality assurance technicians, also known as 'quality control inspectors', look over products produced by a company to ensure that they meet production standards. A benefit to working in this position is that there are minimal education requirements. A drawback is that the field is expected to experience slower than average job growth.

Quality Assurance Technician: PROS
High school diploma or equivalent is the only education requirement for most positions*
In the next decade, retirements are expected to cause there to be available positions for new hires*
Stable jobs opportunities due to machines being unable to inspect smells, textures, appearance and taste*
Safety gear normally provided by employers*
High salaries for minimum education requirements (approximately $38,400 average yearly salary in 2014)*

Quality Assurance Technician: CONS
Some employment settings can expose inspectors to chemicals or other hazards*
Weekend and evening shifts may be required*
Slower than average job growth expected (6% during 2012-2022)*
May have to work overtime as production deadlines approach*
May have to sit or stand for long periods of time, depending on the industry*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Info

Job Description

Most of the products you use, including your car, clothes and food, are inspected by quality assurance technicians. These inspectors monitor and inspect items to ensure that they contain no flaws before they are shipped for sale to the public. Inspectors might measure products to make sure they are the appropriate size, record their findings and report the results to their supervisors. Products that inspectors find do not meet required specifications are not released for sale or use.

Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that, in 2014, inspectors, sorters, testers, weighers and samplers earned an average of about $38,400 per year (www.bls.gov). Also according to the BLS, the top ten percent of these workers earned upwards of around $60,000. The states that paid the best on average for quality control inspectors were Alaska, District of Columbia, Washington, Wyoming, and North Dakota. The industries that paid the highest on average for quality control inspectors were electrical power generation, distribution and transmission.

Occupational Requirements

Training and Education

A GED or a high school diploma is usually required to work as a quality control technician. While in high school, courses in computer-aided design can be helpful for finding employment after graduation. However, computer-aided design classes are often also available in post-secondary programs, such as a quality control management associate's degree program. Many times, though, you receive on-the-job training which covers quality-control techniques, safety procedures and reporting requirements.

What Are Employers Looking for?

Mechanical and technical abilities are very important to employers seeking quality assurance technicians. Employers use various machines to create many of the items you're inspecting. Therefore, many require that you be familiar with technical manuals, blueprints and other technical documents so that you can make sure that parts and products meet appropriate standards. Take a look below at what some employers were looking for in quality assurance technicians from actual job listings found in May 2012.

  • In Illinois, a quality assurance technician job required someone capable of lifting up to 30 lbs.
  • Applicants for a quality assurance technician job in Ohio needed at least three years of experience in food manufacturing.
  • A supplier in Missouri looked for quality assurance technicians with an understanding of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP).
  • In California, a biotechnology manufacturer required an associate's degree for applicants for a quality assurance technician position.

How to Stand Out as a Quality Assurance Technician

Earning certification can help you stand out against your competition. The American Society for Quality offers several certifications, including the Quality Technician Certification (QTC) and the Quality Inspector Certification (QIC). To earn the QTC, you must have four years of work experience or some higher education and pass an exam. To earn the QIC, you must have two years of work experience in the field and a high school diploma.

Other Occupational Options

If you like inspection work, but are not interested in working with products, you might consider working as a fire inspector. In this career, you travel to buildings and ensure that everything meets fire codes. If you find any fire hazards, you report them and follow their progress as they are fixed. While at a site, you might test sprinklers, fire alarms and fire extinguishers. In May 2013, the BLS reported that fire inspectors earned an average annual salary of about $58,100 at that time.

Another career you might consider is construction and building inspecting. As an inspector in this industry, you investigate dams, bridges, buildings and streets to ensure that their construction and operation satisfies all regulations. You also report violations and make sure that the any problems are resolved. In 2013, according to the BLS, construction and building inspectors earned yearly incomes of roughly $56,430.

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