What Does a Quality Technician Do?

A quality technician inspects products to assure that they meet defined standards for durability, function, customer satisfaction, or any other metric that the industry considers a measure of quality. The job requires knowledge of a wide variety of tools and machines used to inspect goods and products, and professionals in this field can work in many different settings. Schools offering Engineering Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

The purpose of quality assurance (QA) is obvious: quality technicians prevent bad items from getting to market. How they fulfill that goal varies widely depending on what they are inspecting, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). The field in which a quality technician works may vary, and some of the more common industries that use quality technicians are described below.

Important Facts About Quality Technicians

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Professional Certifications Quality Technician Certification (CQT) designated by the American Society for Quality (ASQ)
Key Skills Strong mathematical background; mechanical knowledge; physical strength and endurance; manual dexterity; technologically savvy
Similar Occupations Accountants; construction project managers; electrical engineers; mechanical engineers; process engineers; production supervisors; quality assurance and quality control inspectors

Agriculture

Sorters separate vegetables by size, throwing out disfigured or rotting ones. Meat inspectors look for good color, sniff for spoilage, and inspect storage for sanitary techniques. Weighers check whether a food package's weight matches its label's weight claim. Dairy inspectors check conditions on farms and measure the butterfat content of milk or cream. Egg quality techs use a bright light behind the eggs, looking for chick embryos or hidden cracks.

Manufacturing: Simple Items

Some quality technicians inspect simple items like furniture, toys, or paper clips. Quality assurance inspectors look for imperfections in basic construction and in the item's look and finish. They may use tools to gauge the tightness of joints or depth of cushioning. The quality technician usually samples a small percentage of the items produced. If the samples tested meet standards, the company assumes that the rest do, too.

Manufacturing: Complex Machines

The quality technician may use X-rays and other advanced sensing devices to examine machines for imperfections. Feeler gauges and micrometers allow manual measurement of tolerances. Often, an experienced quality control professional discovers problems by listening to the machine operating.

Manufacturing: Computer Chips, Pacemakers -- Extremely Complex or Life-Critical Items

Sampling is unacceptable in these fields. Due to the microscopic scale at which silicon chips are built, a high failure rate is inevitable. A pacemaker's failure may mean the user's death. Therefore, every one of these items is rigorously tested, usually with electronic measures on a 'test bench.'

Services

Quality assurance departments in large businesses or service organizations use surveys, interviews, and repeat business to measure customer satisfaction.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to PayScale.com, the majority of quality control technicians earn between $32,000 and $61,000 a year, as of May 2019. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) does not provide information specific to the field of quality technicians, though the BLS projects that the employment change of all quality control inspectors is likely to decline by 11% between 2016-2026.

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