Career Profile – Quality Engineer
The job of a quality engineer is to test the viability, quality, and endurance of a variety of products. Quality engineers conduct a battery of tests on products from automobiles to shoes – and everything in between. Most quality engineers are involved with testing throughout the evolution of the product from its nascent form up until it is ready to be sold.
Some quality engineers test very few products while others test a wide array of goods. Quality engineers utilize a number of tools and technology. Tools and software used depends on the products being tested. Besides performing the actual tests, quality engineers spend a great deal of their time analyzing the data after testing has been performed. QE’s test virtually every product that is used by end consumers or businesses.
Education and Training
Becoming a quality engineer requires at least a bachelor’s degree. Majors that offer quality preparation for the job include:
- Mathematics (particularly Statistics)
- Decision Science
- Supply Chain Management
- Computer Science
- Laboratory Sciences
On the job training is very common. The evolving nature of manufactured products requires employees to remain current with their knowledge of testing procedures, tools, and information technology. Larger corporations offer formalized training programs for newly hired quality control engineers.
Quality engineer jobs are expected to grow at the average pace of all occupations through the end of the decade. The job market has slowed due to an economic slowdown fueled by low consumer and business-to-business spending. Also, cuts in research and development have halted some product testing.
As the economy recovers jobs in this sector are expected to increase. Because job growth is predicated on spending and research, a person can easily predict career viability by tracking overall economic indicators available to the public such as consumer spending, consumer confidence, business spending, and inflation.
Getting the Job
Students interested in a rewarding career as a quality engineer are encouraged to participate in internships. Internships provide excellent experience as well as networking opportunities that may lead to a position. Students are also encouraged to participate in career fairs at their school. Extracurricular activities involving engineering, manufacturing, business and computer science are all excellent fodder for a resume and provide the student with an opportunity to build their skills.
Job announcements are advertised through traditional means such as internet job sites, trade journals, and newspaper classified ads.
Quality control engineers have plenty of advancement opportunities. Many QE’s move on to management and director positions overseeing teams of quality control engineers after gaining 5+ years of experience.
Working Conditions and Environment
Work environment varies by industry. Much of the time is spent in testing facilities doing the actual product testing. Time is also spent collecting and analyzing test data looking for ways to improve the product. Quality control engineers typically work a standard 40 hour work week Monday-Friday.
Salary and Benefits
According to data released by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics the average annual salary for an entry level quality engineer with at least a bachelor’s degree is $60,000 per year. Wages vary greatly depending on geographic location, experience, and employer. Quality engineers typically enjoy full health and retirement benefits including 401(k), medical, dental, and vision insurance. Managers make an average salary of approximately $100,000 per year.
For further information on a career in quality assurance and control see:
American Society for Quality – www.Asq.org
The Society of Quality Assurance – www.sqa.org