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Quality Engineer How to become, career path, income potential

A quality engineer is an excellent position for those with strong attention to detail. Your time will be spent with quality assurance and quality control teams to develop processes, test procedures, and implement systems to meet all of your clients’ expectations. As a quality engineer, you will need to be familiar with TDD, BDD, and ATDD approaches. Your main duties in this role would be to ensure that the manufacturing processes are efficient and accurate. You will also be responsible for documenting findings that would raise concerns, conducting quality tests while observing parameters, and implementing changes as necessary to meet the highest quality standards. Because quality engineers are true engineers, you will need to have a background in engineering, with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in engineering or a related field.

Sample job description

A quality engineer has the responsibility of ensuring the overall quality of a manufactured product. They create supporting documentation, inspect and test products, components, and processes, and produce quality control systems. Quality engineers must be critical thinkers, have excellent attention to detail, and possess solid analytical and communication skills. [Your Company Name] is looking for a quality engineer to take our company to new heights. You should have excellent troubleshooting skills and a proven ability to ensure processes and products consistently meet established quality standards.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Develop methods to inspect and measure product quality
  • Recommend changes to improve product quality
  • Work with team members and stakeholders to enhance products
  • Ensure products meet company and industry quality standards
  • Identify problems and brainstorm solutions
  • Create strategies to increase productivity
  • Document results and findings from inspections
  • Implement production systems to ensure consistency and accuracy

Education and experience

  • Bachelor’s degree in quality, industrial, or mechanical engineering
  • Extensive experience in a quality assurance environment
  • Master’s degree or PhD preferred for specific positions or career advancement

Required skills and qualifications

  • Analytical, problem-solving, and critical-thinking skills
  • Teamwork and interpersonal communication skills
  • Strong technical writing ability
  • Experience working with engineering and computer-assisted design software
  • Demonstrated skill in solving highly technical problems
  • Expertise in computer technology and systems operations
  • In-depth understanding of industry market trends and conditions

Preferred qualifications

  • Competent in TDD, BDD, ATDD approaches
  • Experienced in defining and executing manual test strategies, test plans, and effective regression testing
  • Practical usage and a good understanding of both top-down and bottom-up approaches
  • Bachelor’s degree in a related field of study

Typical work environment

Quality engineers work in a variety of industries, and the work environment can vary as a result. Typically, they work in manufacturing environments or laboratories where they monitor and analyze the efficiency of processes and product quality standards. Some quality engineers may work in environments that contain safety hazards and require protective gear to be worn, such as hard hats or steel-toed boots. Quality engineers will either work full-time or in shifts, including nights and weekends in plants that stay open seven days a week.

Typical hours

The typical work hours for a quality engineer are from 9 AM to 5 PM. However, some quality engineers may work non-traditional hours, depending on the needs of their company.

Available certifications

Quality engineers work in a wide range of industries, and many institutions offer certifications to help them advance within their careers. Here are some of the top certifications for quality engineers:  

  • Certified Quality Engineer (CQE) – This certification program is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and proves your understanding of the principles of product and service quality evaluation and control. Candidates are tested on their knowledge of the development and operation of quality control systems, application and analysis of testing and inspection procedures, their ability to use metrology and statistical methods to diagnose and correct improper quality control practices, and much more. To be eligible for this certification, you need 8 years of related on-the-job experience, with 3 of those years in a decision-making position. 
  • Certified Quality Auditor (CQA) – The American Society for Quality (ASQ) offers the CQA certification for professionals who prove their knowledge in the standards and principles of auditing and the auditing techniques of examining, questioning, evaluating, and reporting to determine a quality system’s adequacy and deficiencies. The exam includes multiple-choice questions and case studies covering audit fundamentals, audit processes, audit competencies, quality tools and techniques, and more. Eligibility requirements include 8 years of related experience, 3 of which are in a decision-making role.

Career path

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in quality, industrial, or mechanical engineering. Some employers may prefer a master’s degree or PhD. Certification from the American Society for Quality (ASQ) can also be attractive to potential employers or those interested in career advancement. Successful quality engineers can advance to management roles and receive greater independence to design and evaluate projects and processes. From there, they can progress into executive roles.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 17-2112.02

2020 Employment292,000
Projected Employment in 2030315,300
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 10% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift23,300 increase

According to the professional services firm, Accenture, several current trends will bring change to the field of quality engineering. One of these trends being the use of big data and applied analytics. With more companies finding ways to obtain data about their processes, quality engineers have more tools at their disposal to maintain efficiency and productivity. Also, it will be incumbent upon quality engineers to look at data collection systems and ensure the quality of the data collected versus the quantity.

Another trend in quality engineering is the use of machine learning or artificial intelligence (AI). These new programs will help optimize the tests quality engineers design. They’ll provide extra speed and accuracy, leading to even more sophisticated quality monitoring systems.