Quality Assurance is an important part of every company’s production, whether goods or services are produced. Workers who specialize in this area are a valuable part of the company, ensuring that their continued success through monitoring the quality of goods or services given. This is done through several different methods, depending on the field of work. Quality Assurance workers must have a strong work ethic, be dependable, honest and responsible. The work environment varies between different companies and fields. Some workers may be exposed to harmful chemicals or vapors; others may be subject to work in extreme heat or cold for prolonged periods. Stooping, standing, bending and sitting for long and intermittent time periods is also common in Quality Assurance jobs.
Quality Assurance Job Responsibilities
The titles of workers in Quality Assurance positions usually include inspectors, testers, samplers, sorters and weighing specialists. In factory settings, Quality Assurance is simply referred to as “Q.A.” or “Quality Control.” Inspectors are responsible for examining the merchandise visually and sometimes with the use of special equipment to ensure it is functional. Testers use special methods to test products to be sure they are not faulty. In food-based industries, they may test the taste of the food to be sure the correct ingredients and measurements were used. Chemical tests are also performed to be sure the food is safe to eat and won’t harm consumers. Those who are responsible for weighing must be certain that the weight of products is correct.
Overall, each of these employees work individually or as a team to uphold the quality standards of the company they are employed by. It is their responsibility to be sure that other workers are producing quality goods and services; if they are not, the Q.A. worker has the responsibility to report the defects or insufficient service to employers. They work in a variety of fields, including automotive, food, toys, music and any other field that produces anything in mass quantity. Not all Quality Assurance departments are limited to safety and taste. This aspect also includes things such as sight, sound and smell. Depending on the product or service, these all must come into consideration when they are a vital part of that product’s purpose.
Quality Assurance Training and Education Requirements
Depending on the company and what they produce, the requirements for training will differ. For example, those who work in Quality Assurance for airplane parts must have more thorough education than those who work to ensure that a scented toy smells correct. When safety is an issue, the training is generally more advanced. Workers on a pass/fail line with mass-produced products usually need to have a high school diploma. For specific fields such as aviation, special training is required beyond high school credentials. Special classes are usually taken at specific schools or provided on-the-job by the employer, depending on the nature of the business.
Those who have a background in or have studied various industrial trades stand a much higher chance of obtaining a job as a Quality Assurance worker. For fields that are heavily reliant on science or chemistry, a good background in science and laboratory work will enhance chances of obtaining quick entrance in Quality Assurance. In today’s advanced world, one of the most valuable skills to take into this field is knowledge of electronics or especially robotics. The future of production industries will be heavily reliant on robotics. Mechanical aptitude is also useful to have.
Quality Assurance Salary and Wages
Workers in Q.A. are paid decently. In a 2008 report from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the average hourly wages of inspectors, sorters, testers, samplers and weighers was $15.02. Of this sample, the 50th percentile earned between $11.58 and $19.52. The 10th percentile earned less than $9.28 hourly, while the 90th percentile earned above $25.47 per hour. The highest-paying wages were in aerospace production, followed by vehicle part production, semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing, plastic products and employment services.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Quality Assurance Certifications
Actual certification is not required in every company, but the American Society for Quality does offer 15 types of certification for Q.A. workers. These certifications are given upon proof of a certain number of years in the field, along with passing a mandatory exam. Requirements may vary by state, so the best place to begin the search for requirements is within the state of residence, usually the department of licensing, sometimes called the “licensing division” in some states.
Quality Assurance Professional Associations
The American Society For Quality is a world-wide professional organization for Q.A. workers. Membership is paid annually and is available in three different options, based on access and information given. The least expensive is less than $50 and the most expensive is more than $100. Their site should be viewed for up-to-date rates. Members enjoy access to helpful links featuring educational tools and tools for connecting with other professionals in the field to share valuable information. Members are also given access to helpful new information, including new laws, technologies and various other news related to their field. Jobs can also be found through this network.