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Quality Control Inspector Career Guide

As a quality control inspector, you’ll have many responsibilities. If you like working in a fast-paced environment, this may be the perfect fit for you. Duties include, but aren’t limited to, checking the quality of materials that are going in and out of a company, running tests, keeping track of incoming defects, analyzing different products, and overlooking procedures. Other responsibilities will include monitoring operations to assure the standards expected are met and training employees on the inspection of products, services, and assembly lines. For this job, you’ll work with materials such as gauges, calipers, and micrometers to inspect companies’ products. As far as education goes, a quality control inspector is considered an entry level job, so you will need a high school diploma and at least 1-2 years of prior experience. Required skills for this job include basic math knowledge, reporting skills, being organized and detail-oriented, and having a good understanding of the industry’s products.

Sample job description

[Your Company Name] is seeking a quality control inspector to perform basic to complex set-ups, alignments, maintenance, operations, and/or calibration of our products. In the quality inspector role, you will be responsible for inspection and quality services to ensure our company’s products and processes meet customer and company requirements. This role supports company initiatives, provides training, and assists the manager. An ideal candidate will have proven experience analyzing, measuring, calibrating, and conducting similar tests to monitor the quality of manufactured products.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Monitor operations to ensure they meet the approved standards
  • Maintain detailed records of quality control testing 
  • Inspect, test, and measure products and materials using gauges, calipers, and micrometers
  • Utilize electronic inspection equipment to ensure products are inspected to a high standard
  • Create reports for the quality manager, noting the number of defective products and suggesting ways to improve production
  • Comply with health and safety policies and procedures
  • Inspect manufactured products or parts to ensure they meet production standards
  • Disassemble products and inspect parts individually
  • Make adjustments to assembly to ensure quality standards are being met
  • Ensure products meet customer expectations based on company objectives

Education and experience

  • High school diploma or GED
  • 1-2 years experience

Required skills and qualifications

  • Experience as a quality control inspector
  • Intermediate proficiency in computer word processing and Microsoft Office applications
  • Detail-oriented
  • Knowledge of industry products and processes
  • Basic math skills
  • Excellent written, verbal communication, and reporting skills
  • Ability to work efficiently with minimal supervision
  • Outstanding organizational skills

Preferred qualifications

  • Experience in the same industry as a quality control inspector
  • High level of proficiency with quality control tools and software
  • Associate’s or bachelor’s degree

Typical work environment

Quality control inspectors typically work in office settings as well as on-site manufacturing locations. They spend their day making evaluations on manufactured products and goods. They might be exposed to dangerous locations and materials, depending on where they work, and must wear appropriate clothing and protective gear to maintain safe work environments. They may be required to stand for long periods of time.

Typical hours

Most quality control inspectors work full-time, 40-hour weeks during regular business hours. Some may be required to work overtime on evenings or weekends to meet production deadlines.

Available certifications

Quality control inspectors work in many different industries, therefore many institutions offer certifications for these professionals. Here are three of the top certifications you can receive to set yourself apart from the crowd:

  • Certified Quality Inspector (CQI) – As a CQI, you have the proven skills to aid and work under the direction of quality engineers, supervisors, and technicians. You demonstrate the knowledge to evaluate hardware documentation, perform laboratory procedures, inspect products, measure process performance, record data, and prepare formal reports. To be eligible for the exam, you will need 2 years of relevant experience and a high school diploma or GED.
  • Certified Quality Assurance Professional (CQAP) – The CQAP program trains you to become a leader in quality assurance by providing you with the knowledge and skills needed to develop quality control processes. A CQAP is also part of a network of high-level quality assurance experts that you can get help from. With a CQAP, you will have a solid understanding of quality assurance tools and frameworks and their use in any industrial environment. Topics include quality management systems, quality system standards, and customer satisfaction and relationship management.
  • Certified Calibration Technician (CCT) – The CCT tests, calibrates, maintains, and repairs electrical, mechanical, electromechanical, analytical, and electronic measuring, recording, and indicating instruments and equipment for conformance to established standards. To become a CCT, you will need 5 years of experience working with measurement and calibrations systems. Part of the experience requirement can be waived if you have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree from a university or trade school.

Career path

The steps to becoming a quality control inspector begin with receiving a high school diploma. Helpful elective courses include math and science, specifically measurement, testing, and scientific techniques. Many employers prefer candidates who have at least 1-2 years of experience. Training is typically done on the job. Quality control inspectors typically gain knowledge about specific production processes used in a particular field, such as in medical equipment manufacturing, food production, chemical manufacturing, furniture manufacturing, appliance manufacturing, electronics manufacturing, and pharmaceuticals. 

Many certifications are available for quality control inspectors as the move forward in their careers. An additional step for a quality control inspector to take includes earning an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in quality assurance, quality control, and/or manufacturing management. These degrees can lead to better employment or advancement opportunities. Some degree programs offer students internships, where they can gain valuable hands-on experience. 

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 51-9061

2020 Employment557,900
Projected Employment in 2030489,800
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 12% decrease
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift68,100 decrease

It’s no surprise that testing automation will continue to grow as part of the quality assurance process. Automation is now utilized in a wide range of quality assurance testing and that trend will only continue. As automation evolves and improves, companies will increasingly begin to employ these tools in order to enhance the quality control process.  

Cost-effective quality assurance processes will be an ongoing trend due to the economic downturn in 2020. Companies have tighter budgets and will need to rely on effective quality management systems to maintain their businesses. 

Organizations that understand the importance of agility and adaptability are the ones who will survive crises similar to what we experienced in 2020. Quality control strategies that are adaptable, with contingencies in place, will be key to a company’s survival. Risk analysis, especially in a global market, is crucial in quality control. Quickly identifying solutions to global threats against quality assurances will be a necessity in the next decade.