Quality Control Technician

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Quality Control Technician


The old expression that values quality over quantity still holds a great deal of truth. Items of high quality always last longer than patchwork goods. Companies today are searching for ways to incorporate both quality and quantity into their products equally. The ultimate goal is to produce a high quality product in large quantities at a low cost. Quality control technicians do this everyday on the job. They gather and analyze information about products in a company and ensure the safety and quality of processes within a production facility. They also try to ensure that products and services are delivered in the most cost-effective and timely manner possible.

Quality control technicians test and inspect products at specified stages in the manufacturing process to be sure that the products are safe, meet customer and international requirements, and perform as designed. They assist industrial engineers to set reasonable quality standards. Technicians set up and perform various kinds of tests on materials, parts, and products, such as measuring performance and durability. Some technicians test food and drug samples or raw materials to make sure they are free from contamination. They record all test data on graphs and charts, evaluate their findings, and write summary reports.

Quality control technicians concern themselves with people, machines and materials. This career field combines engineering with management training and seeks to develop effective, organized work systems that produce quality items in a people-oriented and cost-conscious manner. Unlike other engineering technicians that work in a variety of areas, they focus their work on quality control of products. They examine the overall production process or delivery system of an operation to determine best practices. Also, they introduce statistical performance measurements to analyze and improve operations, analyze materials handling methods and recommend ergonomic solutions to problems, safe work practices and cost efficiencies.

Most quality control technicians are drawn to this field because of the diversity of companies they work with on the job. They take on projects from a healthcare institution to a pulp and paper factory to a clothing company -- the possibilities are endless. They are also interested in helping consumers purchase products of the highest quality. We all know what happens when you buy a poorly made item.

Also, poor quality items can be a safety hazard, therefore technicians seek to create quality products that maintain high safety standards. For example, if you were to buy an electric blender and the blade broke off in the mixing process, then your safety and health is being put in danger because of a low quality product. Quality control technicians work to make sure that these things do not happen. That is truly a comforting thought.

Quality control technicians also participate in inspection work. They will visit factories and plants and make sure that machines are running properly and that the output is of high quality.
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  Average Earnings  
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  Interests and Skills  
Quality control technicians have a natural aptitude for mathematics and science and can visualize abstract concepts and relationships. They possess excellent communication and leadership skills because they interact with clients on a daily basis. They must be good at troubleshooting, but maintain a positive outlook in order to deal with the constant stream of problems faced daily. Finally, paying strict attention to details is as important as persistence. Suggesting quality control solutions to companies is only the first step; helping them act on these suggestions is the hard part.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Develop and assist in the production and quality control programs in manufacturing or in other industries
  • Improve existing work systems concerned with the production and distribution of products and services
  • Analyze production problems such as an inadequate supply of components, materials or personnel or poor quality of products
  • Develop and carry out research and case studies on quality assurance related issues
  • Verify the consistency and reliability of product quality, taking into account such factors as time, cost and quality control
  • Develop and carry out industrial health, safety and fire prevention plans and programs and conduct safety training programs
  • Develop work measurement standards and evaluation systems
  • Manage productivity improvement projects
  • Quality control technicians usually work regular hours in offices, research labs and on production floors. A majority of their time is spent on the computer, preparing layouts, statistical studies and analyses. Some work in teams with engineers and technologists. Quality control technicians may travel to plants and construction sites or attend conferences to upgrade their knowledge and skills.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Quality control technicians work for public and private companies or on a freelance contractual basis. In the private sector, they are found in industrial consulting firms, manufacturing and processing companies, insurance companies, financial institutions, transportation companies and any other industry that requires some help from a quality efficiency consultant. Government organizations, hospitals and educational institutions generally hire quality control technicians.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Since quality control technicians have the option of specializing in so many areas of manufacturing industries, advancements are plentiful and foreseeable. Technicians will start doing routine work under the direction of industrial engineers and as they acquire experience and further knowledge, they will be given more responsibility. Experienced quality control technicians may advance to become production managers or quality control supervisors and inspectors. With further training and education, technicians can also become industrial or manufacturing engineers or technologists.

  Educational Paths  
Completion of a one- or two-year college program in industrial engineering or quality control technology is usually required for quality control technicians. A certification in industrial engineering technology or a related manufacturing field is available through associations of engineering or applied science technologists and technicians, and may be required for some positions. A supervised, two-year period of work is required for employment.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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