What is a quality technician?
A quality technician is a professional who ensures that the products produced by an organization meet specified quality standards. They work within various industries, such as pharmaceutical companies, food manufacturers, and electronics production. Generally, they inspect the materials and finished products for defects or deviations from benchmarks. These professionals are pivotal in promoting customer satisfaction, ensuring regulatory compliance, and reducing financial waste due to defective goods.
Duties and responsibilities
A quality technician’s primary responsibility is to test samples of manufactured products and evaluate their consistency with established quality standards. Using various tools and equipment, they measure product dimensions, examine material strength and durability, and ensure goods adhere to the design specifications. They are responsible for documenting the results of their evaluations and flagging any detected defects. In the event of a discrepancy, these professionals aid in determining the underlying cause of the problem and recommend appropriate corrective actions. They have to deal with problems quickly and effectively to prevent large-scale production of substandard products.
The environment in which a quality technician works can largely depend on the industry they are involved in. Typically, they work in manufacturing or production facilities, labs, or workshops. The work environment is usually structured and may require employees to wear protective clothing or personal protective equipment to safeguard against potential hazards like noise, heat, chemicals, or machinery. They might have to stand for lengthy periods or even perform some of their duties in uncomfortable positions, depending on the kind of products or materials they inspect.
Typical work hours
The hours and conditions of a quality technician’s work schedule can be quite varied. Many technicians will work a standard work week of Monday through Friday during daytime hours. However, in industries that require 24/7 operations like food processing or pharmaceutical manufacturing, they might need to work night shifts, weekends, or on a rotational shift basis. They might also need to be on call to handle quality issues that arise outside of normal working hours. It’s important to note that despite the schedule, they must maintain a rigorous level of precision and accuracy in their evaluations at all times.
How to become a quality technician
This career guide section outlines the steps to become a quality technician. The journey to this profession mainly involves obtaining an educational degree, gaining field experience, and acquiring certifications demonstrating expertise in quality control.
Step 1: Obtain a high school diploma
Securing a high school diploma is typically the first step toward becoming a quality technician. The diploma is required for most post-secondary education programs and subsequent job opportunities. In high school, courses like mathematics, science, and, if available, industrial arts or manufacturing can provide a good foundation.
Step 2: Pursue post-secondary education
While some positions only require a high school diploma, pursuing further education, such as an associate’s degree in quality assurance or a related field, is advantageous. This education typically involves coursework in quality control techniques, manufacturing processes, statistical quality control, auditing, and problem-solving skills.
Step 3: Gain field experience
Hands-on experience in the field is a vital step. Many entry-level positions offer on-the-job training to familiarize new hires with their role’s specific tools and procedures. Additionally, internships during post-secondary education provide practical exposure and valuable industry connections.
Step 4: Obtain industry certifications
Certifications offer official recognition of your skills and can make you more competitive in the job market. Useful accreditations include Certified Quality Technician (CQT) from the American Society for Quality (ASQ) and Six Sigma certification.
Step 5: Continual learning and professional development
The technology and mechanisms for quality control are ever-evolving, so it’s important to stay updated with the latest industry practices and advances. This could be achieved through ongoing training programs, pursuing advanced degrees, attending relevant seminars and workshops, or regularly reading industry publications.
How much do quality technicians make?
Quality technician salaries will vary by experience, industry, education, location, and organization size. Aspects that impact their compensation include the complexity of the work, levels of responsibility, analytical and technical skills, and the ability to work long hours, on weekends, and during holidays.
Highest paying industries
- Oil and Gas Extraction – $81,000
- Federal Executive Branch – $78,660
- Scientific Research and Development Services – $73,590
- Wholesale Electronic Markets and Agents and Brokers – $70,230
- Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing – $68,990
Highest paying states
- Alaska – $82,120
- Hawaii – $78,450
- California – $76,560
- Connecticut – $75,390
- Virginia – $74,720
Types of quality technicians
Below, we highlight the various career types and areas of specialization for quality technicians. This section provides detailed insights to help professionals understand the field’s broad range of specializations.
Quality assurance technician
Quality assurance technicians ensure the safety and quality of products and services. They inspect products or services to detect defects and non-compliance. This often involves fieldwork, where technicians go to production sites or facilities to carry out their duties.
Quality control technician
In the space of quality control, technicians have the critical task of verifying that the output from production processes meets set standards. They perform tests, checks, and inspections to confirm that the products meet the company’s quality requirements.
Food quality technician
In the food industry, these technicians ensure that all food items are safe for consumption. They test food samples to check for harmful bacteria or other contaminants. In addition, they also confirm that the food products abide by food safety and quality standards.
Mechanical quality technician
For those with a knack for mechanics, a specialization as a mechanical quality technician could be appealing. These professionals are in charge of confirming that all mechanical parts and systems function correctly. They perform detailed inspections and tests to ensure the technical parameters and performances are met.
Pharmaceutical quality technician
This specialization caters to the pharmaceutical industry. These technicians verify the quality of medical drugs produced. They perform diligent checks on the chemical and physical properties of the drugs, ensuring they are up to standard and safe for usage.
Top skills for quality technicians
This section outlines the primary skills and traits needed for career success as a quality technician. A successful technician demonstrates a mix of technical expertise, attention to detail, and problem-solving abilities.
These professionals need an understanding of quality assurance principles, statistical methods, and blueprint reading. Additionally, knowledge of relevant computer software, like quality control applications and database management systems, is crucial for this position.
Technicians should be able to identify, analyze and solve quality issues in product manufacturing or service delivery. This entails understanding the source of the problem, brainstorming potential solutions, evaluating their feasibility, and implementing the most effective one.
Attention to detail
They should be able to notice even the smallest discrepancies, irregularities, or faults in the processes, materials, or final products. This skill is crucial in identifying defects early and preventing substandard products from reaching the market.
Quality technicians often need to relay complicated information to coworkers, supervisors, or clients. They should be able to explain complex issues clearly, ensuring all parties understand the situation and the necessary steps to rectify any issues.
Quality technician career path
A quality technician often has a diverse range of opportunities for career advancement. Leveraging expertise in quality assurance, many progress into roles that involve a higher level of responsibility and decision-making capabilities.
This role often opens the gate to the quality engineer position. This role typically involves a deeper analysis of production systems and products, ensuring they meet both internal and external benchmarks. Additional opportunities can also exist in leadership roles, with the potential to advance toward positions such as quality manager or quality director. These roles involve not only managing teams but also shaping and implementing strategic plans concerning product or service quality.
For those interested in branching out, experience in quality assurance can be transferable to roles such as production supervisor or project manager within the manufacturing industry.
As experts in their field, they may choose to pursue continuous specialist development, becoming senior quality technicians or certified quality engineers. Alternatively, they might desire a transition into roles with greater responsibilities, such as quality manager, where leadership and the ability to manage teams are required.
On a broader spectrum, they could decide to move over to roles completely outside the quality domain but still within the manufacturing setting, like being a production supervisor. The skills acquired can even offer the potential for individuals to obtain roles as consultants, offering guidance to companies to improve their operations and meet quality standards.
Similar job titles
Position trends and outlook for quality technicians
The current trends in this industry include a substantial increase in automation, augmented reality, and the Internet of Things. Industrial quality assurance is adopting cutting-edge technology with open arms, and professionals in this field are expected to adapt to these changes. This digital evolution requires quality technicians to develop new competencies, such as handling automation tools and analyzing big data.
Green manufacturing practices, which aim to reduce waste and promote sustainability, are also gaining precedence in industrial operations. Technicians are now playing pivotal roles in implementing these eco-friendly procedures. In addition to enhancing environmental sustainability, these standards can positively impact the company’s brand image and increase customer loyalty.
Quality control processes are also becoming increasingly integrated with customer service. Consumer feedback is now directly influencing quality checks and standards. As a result, a new skill for technicians could be customer relations management.
Employment projections for quality technicians
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest projections, the demand for quality control analysts, including quality technicians, is expected to decline by 3 percent through 2031. While this rate is on a downward trend, technological innovations could present new opportunities over this period.
Quality technician career tips
Understand relevant standards and regulations
You must have a profound understanding of industrial standards and regulations related to your specific field. This knowledge assists in maintaining a high level of quality control, ensuring compliance, and reducing the risk of non-conformities. It involves knowing the standards and staying updated with any changes or new legislation.
Master the use of quality testing tools
Competency in using various quality testing tools is essential for your role. This might include computer-aided drafting (CAD) software, calipers, micrometers, or other precision measurement tools. Learning to use these tools will help improve the accuracy and reliability of your quality evaluations.
Develop strong report-writing skills
Your job isn’t just about conducting tests and inspections. You’ll likely be tasked with creating detailed reports on your findings. Quality reports aid decision-makers in identifying future quality improvements and determining compliance with required standards. Strengthening your report-writing skills can greatly improve the impact of your work and contribute to the overall success of your team.
Build a professional network
Networking with other professionals in your field can offer numerous advantages. Making connections can bring professional growth, learning, and job opportunities. Here are some relevant professional associations:
- American Society for Quality (ASQ)
- International Association for Quality Assurance Professionals (IAQAP)
- Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME)
Pursue continuous learning
Engaging in lifelong learning will keep your skills sharp and your knowledge current. This is particularly important due to ongoing advancements in technology and changes in industrial standards and regulations. Below are some suggestions:
- Take relevant online courses for new quality assurance methodologies and tools
- Read industry publications to stay updated on current trends and changes
- Consider certification programs such as Certified Quality Technician (CQT) by ASQ to enhance your credibility and job growth prospects
Where the quality technician jobs are
- Honeywell International
- General Electric
- Thermo Fisher Scientific
- Siemens AG
- Becton Dickinson
Top job sites
What specific skills should a quality technician possess?
Quality technicians should have excellent attention to detail, and the ability to read technical documents, understand specifications, and apply them in their tasks. They should also have data analysis skills, competence in using quality inspection tools and techniques, and an understanding of various quality standards and regulations. Communication skills and teamwork are essential for coordinating with other company departments.
What level of education is generally required for quality technicians?
A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required for entry-level positions in this field. However, most employers prefer candidates with an associate’s degree or higher in a relevant field like industrial technology, quality assurance, or mechanical engineering technology. Certifications in quality control can also enhance job prospects.
What industries commonly employ quality technicians?
Quality technicians find job opportunities in various industries. Manufacturing industries, pharmaceutical firms, and food and beverage companies heavily rely on their services. They also find work with electronic and automobile manufacturers, laboratories, and aerospace companies. Their role in maintaining and improving the product’s quality standards makes them fundamental in any industry that produces goods.
What is the common career progression for a quality technician?
In their early career stages, quality technicians usually start by conducting basic inspections and reporting their findings. As they gain more experience and demonstrate proficiency, they may advance to take on more complex tasks and responsibilities, such as training junior technicians and leading quality assurance projects. Eventually, they might progress into quality engineering or managerial roles within the quality assurance department.
What does a day as a quality technician typically look like?
A normal working day for a quality technician typically involves conducting quality control tests and inspections, compiling and analyzing data, and preparing reports. They may also spend some time in meetings with other departments discussing the implementation of quality standards and suggesting areas of improvement. Depending on the industry, some time may be spent on the production floor, communicating with production teams and resolving quality issues.
How does a quality technician contribute to operations in a company?
Quality technicians play a significant role in a company’s operations. They ensure that products or services meet the company’s quality standards and relevant regulatory requirements, which helps maintain customer satisfaction and reduces wastes and costs associated with defects. By analyzing quality control data, they can also identify trends and suggest improvements to production processes, thus contributing to the company’s continuous improvement efforts.
What qualities make a good quality technician?
A good quality technician should have sharp observational skills, pay meticulous attention to detail, and have a methodical, systematic approach to work to accurately identify and resolve issues. Excellent communication and reporting skills are paramount for clearly articulating findings to teammates and superiors. Knowledge and understanding of technical documents, blueprints, and specification sheets is key. In addition, problem-solving skills, adaptability, and the ability to work under pressure are valuable traits.
What type of software or tools does a quality technician use?
A quality technician uses different types of industry-specific software for data collection and analysis, quality management, statistical analysis, and process control. Database management systems are often used to track and manage quality data. They may also use physical tools such as micrometers, calipers, and gauges to conduct physical inspections of products or components. Being proficient with these tools and software is a vital part of the role.
Is certification necessary for a quality technician?
Certification is not necessarily required, but it can enhance career prospects, as it demonstrates a comprehensive understanding of quality principles and practices. Certifications like the Certified Quality Technician (CQT) from the American Society for Quality (ASQ) are recognized globally and can be beneficial for career advancement. These certifications usually require a combination of education and years of work experience in the field.