Quality control inspectors examine products and materials for defects or deviations from specifications.
What they do
Quality control inspectors typically do the following:
- Read blueprints and specifications
- Monitor operations to ensure that they meet production standards
- Recommend adjustments to the assembly or production process
- Inspect, test, or measure materials or products being produced
- Measure products with rulers, calipers, gauges, or micrometers
- Operate electronic inspection equipment and software
- Accept or reject finished items
- Remove all products and materials that fail to meet specifications
- Report inspection and test data such as weights, temperatures, grades, moisture content, and quantities inspected
Quality control inspectors monitor quality standards for nearly all manufactured products, including foods, textiles, clothing, glassware, motor vehicles, electronic components, computers, and structural steel. Specific job duties vary across the wide range of industries in which these inspectors work.
Quality control workers rely on many tools to do their jobs. Although some still use hand-held measurement devices, such as calipers and alignment gauges, workers more commonly operate electronic inspection equipment, such as coordinate-measuring machines (CMMs) and three-dimensional (3D) scanners. Inspectors testing electrical devices may use voltmeters, ammeters, and ohmmeters to test potential difference, current flow, and resistance, respectively.
Quality control workers record the results of their inspections through test reports. When they find defects, inspectors notify supervisors and help to analyze and correct production problems.
In some firms, the inspection process is completely automated, with advanced vision inspection systems installed at one or several points in the production process. Inspectors in these firms monitor the equipment, review output, and conduct random product checks.
The following are examples of types of quality control inspectors:
Inspectors mark, tag, or note problems. They may reject defective items outright, send them for repair, or fix minor problems themselves. If the product is acceptable, the inspector certifies it. Inspectors may further specialize in the following jobs:
- Materials inspectors check products by sight, sound, or feel to locate imperfections such as cuts, scratches, missing pieces, or crooked seams.
- Mechanical inspectors generally verify that parts fit, move correctly, and are properly lubricated. They may check the pressure of gases and the level of liquids, test the flow of electricity, and conduct test runs to ensure that machines run properly.
Samplers test or inspect a sample for malfunctions or defects during a batch or production run.
Sorters separate goods according to length, size, fabric type, or color.
Testers repeatedly test existing products or prototypes under real-world conditions. Through these tests, manufacturers determine how long a product will last, what parts will break down first, and how to improve durability.
Weighers weigh quantities of materials for use in production.
Work environments vary by industry and establishment size; some inspectors examine similar products for an entire shift, others examine a variety of items.
Inspectors in some industries may be on their feet all day and may have to lift heavy items. In other industries, workers may sit during their shift and read electronic printouts of data.
Workers in heavy-manufacturing plants may be exposed to the noise and grime of machinery. In other plants, inspectors work in clean, air-conditioned environments suitable for testing products.
How to become a Quality Control Inspector
Most quality control inspectors need a high school diploma and receive on-the-job training that typically lasts as little as 1 month or up to 1 year.
Education and training requirements vary with the responsibilities of the quality control worker. For inspectors who do simple pass/fail tests of products, a high school diploma and some in-house training are generally enough. Workers usually receive on-the-job training that typically lasts for as little as 1 month or up to 1 year.
Candidates for inspector jobs can improve their chances of finding work by studying industrial trades in high school or in a postsecondary vocational program. Laboratory work in the natural or biological sciences also may improve a person’s analytical skills and increase their chances of finding work in medical or pharmaceutical labs, where many of these workers are employed.
Training for new inspectors may cover the use of special meters, gauges, computers, and other instruments; quality control techniques such as Six Sigma; blueprint reading; safety; and reporting requirements. Some postsecondary training programs exist, but many employers prefer to train inspectors on the job.
As manufacturers use more automated techniques that require less inspection by hand, workers increasingly must know how to operate and program more sophisticated equipment and utilize software applications. Because these operations require additional skills, higher education may be necessary. To address this need, some colleges are offering associate degrees in fields such as quality control management.
The American Society for Quality (ASQ) offers various certifications, including a designation for Certified Quality Inspector (CQI), and numerous sources of information and various levels of Six Sigma certifications. Although certification is not required, it can demonstrate competence and professionalism, making candidates more attractive to employers. It can also increase opportunities for advancement. Requirements for certification generally include a certain number of years of experience in the field and passing an exam.
The median annual wage for quality control inspectors was $39,140 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $24,660, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $66,260.
Employment of quality control inspectors is projected to decline 17 percent from 2019 to 2029.
Continued improvements in technology allow manufacturers to automate inspection tasks, increasing workers’ productivity and reducing the demand for inspectors. Fabrication and assembly workers monitor quality at every stage of production, assuming many of the duties previously done by specialized inspectors. In addition, use of three-dimensional (3D) scanners decreases the amount of time required to inspect parts and finished goods for correct measurement.
Similar Job Titles
Inspector, QA Auditor (Quality Assurance Auditor), QA Inspector (Quality Assurance Inspector), QA Technician (Quality Assurance Technician), QC Technician (Quality Control Technician), Quality Auditor, Quality Control Inspector (QC Inspector), Quality Inspector, Quality Technician, Test Technician
Shipping, Receiving and Traffic Clerk; Team Assembler; Food Batchmakers; Solderer and Brazer; Print Binding and Finishing Worker
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- American Society for Quality
- American Welding Society
- International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
- International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America
- National Tooling and Machining Association
- Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute
- Precision Machined Products Association
- The National Council For Advanced Manufacturing
Magazines and Publications
From food and clothing… to motor vehicles and structural steel… Quality control inspectors examine products and materials for defects… to ensure that consumer products meet regulations and quality standards. Inspectors inspect, test, and measure products… if an item meets specifications, the inspector certifies it… but when a product is faulty, inspectors may reject it, send it for repair, or fix a minor problem themselves. Samplers test or inspect a sample from a production run for malfunctions or defects. Sorters separate goods according to length, size, fabric type, or color. Testers test existing products or prototypes to determine how long a product will last and what will break first, and then identify possible improvements. Weighers weigh out quantities of production materials. Some inspectors spend their day lifting heavy objects, while others sit during their shift and read data printouts. Some work environments may be noisy or expose workers to hazardous materials, while others may be clean and air-conditioned. Inspectors may need to wear protective clothing. Though some quality control inspectors work evenings or weekends, standard full time business hours are common. Most quality control inspectors need a high school diploma and receive on-the-job training that typically lasts from as little as 1 month up to 1 year. An associate degree in a field such as quality control management may help qualify workers for more challenging positions.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org