Master's in Quality Assurance: Salary and Career Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue with an advanced degree in quality assurance. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and certification information. Schools offering Engineering Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Quality Assurance Professional?

Quality assurance professionals, also known as quality control managers or inspectors, work in a variety of environments to ensure that systems, machinery, operations and/or parts are made and operate properly. They start by studying blueprints or other forms of schematics to determine what they are going to be inspecting is supposed to look like and how it functions. They then either monitor the production of an item or inspect it after it's been produced. This may include conducting tests, taking measurements, and/or assessing its assembly. They make reports of what they find and then either send it back with recommendations on how to fix it, or pass it. The following chart provides an overview of the education, job outlook and average salary in this field.

Degree Required High school diploma at minimum; master's degree can help with advancement to management roles
Education Field of Study Project management, business, manufacturing, accounting, statistics
Certification Optional certification through the American Society for Quality as a Certified Quality Engineer or Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence
Key Responsibilities Inspect and test a variety of things for defects; detect problems and find solutions; ensure products and services are in compliance with applicable regulations
Job Growth (2014-2024)* Little to no change (for inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers and weighers)
Median Salary (2015/2016) $36,000 (for inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers and weighers)*; $66,045 (for quality control managers) **

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

What Kind of Career Am I Qualified For with a Master's in Quality Assurance?

Quality control specialists and inspectors typically only need a high school education to qualify for an entry-level position. If your interest lies in management, a college degree is usually recommended or required. Master's degree programs in quality assurance combine the practical skills to provide product and service testing services with business and project management courses. Often designed for working adults to advance a career, a master's program in quality assurance preps students with management techniques to coincide with the demands and objectives of a quality control environment.

What Will I Learn in a Graduate Program?

The majority of the courses in a quality assurance master's program focus on management and leadership. Additional courses and electives provide advanced analysis and testing techniques, as well as regulatory laws governing certain products and services. Many master's programs require you to participate in hands-on practice, departmental research or independent study projects. Some common course topics include:

  • Accounting and statistics
  • Human resource management
  • Quality and reliability testing
  • Project management
  • Utilizing metrics to gauge quality standards
  • Manufacturing and control adjustment
  • Risk management
  • Quality laws by industry

What Kind of Jobs are Available?

As a quality assurance manager, you ensure that the reliability, safety and condition of a company's products and services comply with federal and state regulations, as well as company standards. Due to outsourcing and automation of quality control processes, the BLS anticipated little to no growth in the number of inspector positions (which also includes testers, sorters, samplers and weighers) between 2014 and 2024. With this slow growth in available job openings, professional credentials, such as a Certified Quality Engineer or Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence offered through the American Society for Quality, may allow you to demonstrate your quality control and managerial proficiency, providing you with additional value to potential employers.

What Kind of Salary Can I Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the top-paying industries for quality inspectors included electric power generation, transmission and distribution; insurance carriers; natural gas distribution; other pipeline transportation; and pipeline transportation of crude oil. Approximately 508,590 workers were employed in numerous industries, such as transportation, manufacturing, food distribution and consumer services. PayScale.com reported that 2016 total pay for quality control managers ranged between $36,484 and $98,270 annually, which included bonuses, profit sharing and commissions.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

A few careers related to quality control inspectors include construction, building and fire inspectors. Construction and building inspectors inspect builds both during and after construction to make sure they meet buildings codes, are properly zoned and meet safety regulations. To enter this field you only need to have a high school diploma or equivalent. Fire inspectors inspect buildings to ensure that all fire codes are met. They look for fire hazards and in the event of a fire conduct investigations regarding the sources and causes of the fire. Fire inspectors need a little more training and experience as a firefighter, police officer or EMT.

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