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Quality Engineer

Education and Training: Bachelor’s or master’s degree in engineering, manufacturing, mathematics, business or related discipline
Average Salary: $60,000 per year
Job Outlook: Poor

Quality engineers make sure the products people use are manufactured according to quality standards. They work in a wide variety of industries making sure our garments do not tear, our cars run safely and properly, and our electronic devises works as advertised. They perform a variety of tests that check quality and longevity. Quality engineers utilize a number of tools and technology to perform testing. Depending on the industry they work in there are different software programs and testing equipment that require specific training. After testing is performed they analyze data to look for ways to improve products. Quality engineers work on virtually all manufactured products and are involved in virtually all stages of manufacturing. Some quality engineers test the same products or similar products while others test a wide variety.

Education and Training Requirements

The industry standard level of education is a four-year bachelor’s degree although it is not common for some quality engineering positions to require a master’s program. Most master’s programs take two years to complete but vary depending on student enrollment level. Majors that prepare students for this occupation are manufacturing engineering, systems engineering, information technology, statistics, business, and decision science.

Specific training is needed for software systems and measuring tools required for testing procedures and analysis. It is helpful to have a background in computer-aided drafting and blue print reading. For those working in a laboratory it is helpful to have a background in laboratory sciences. Much of the training is done on the job through industry training programs designed to help entry level quality engineers.

Getting the Job

Quality engineering positions can be found via traditional job search methods such as employment search engines, internet job boards, state and municipal employment agencies, and recruiting services. Jobs can also be found in a variety of classified advertisements and industry trade journals. It is also helpful for students to participate in an industry internship to gain experience.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

Job prospects for quality engineering are expected to be poor due to the current economic recession. Quality engineering positions are expected to decline by 4% through 2018. Factors such as research and development, consumer spending, manufacturing, and government spending affect the employment outlook.

Many quality engineers start out as statisticians, engineers or laboratory researchers before moving into quality engineering. The typical career path involves moving into a quality engineering management position. Some professionals choose to become quality control consultants working with clients within the industry where they have the most expertise. Many quality engineers add industry specific licenses and certificates to add to their skill sets and knowledge base.

Working Conditions and Environment

Work environment varies depending on the types of products being tested. Most quality control engineers spend their day in laboratories or testing facilities performing quality assurance procedures. Some work environments can be dangerous such as manufacturing facilities. Many quality engineers are required to wear personal protective equipment such as hard hats and safety glasses.

Salary and Benefits

The average salary for quality engineers is $60,000 per year. Salary depends on level of experience, size and type of organization, and geographic location. It is common for quality engineering jobs to come with full benefit packages that include health, dental and retirement. Paid vacation and sick days are standard.

Where to Go for More Information

American Society for Quality (ASQ)
P.O. Box 3005
Milwaukee, WI 53201-3005

International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
1, ch. de la Voie-Creuse,
Case postale 56
CH-1211 Geneva 20, Switzerland
+41 22 749 01 11

The Society of Quality Assurance (SQA)
Society of Quality Assurance
154 Hansen Road, Suite 201
Charlottesville, VA 22911
(434) 297-4772

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesEngineering, Science, Technology, and Social Sciences