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Quality Engineer Job Description, Duties and Career Outlook

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a quality engineer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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Essential Information

Quality engineers monitor and audit the quality of all manufactured goods in a variety of industries, including the automobile, textile, clothing, food and electronics industries. They work to not only find defects, but also to find the cause of the defect and develop a solution. Relevant education is available at the associate through master's degree levels, and industry certifications can boost career options.

Required Education Associate's, bachelor's or master's degree in quality engineering or a related field, depending on the position
Other Requirements Voluntary certification available through the American Society for Quality
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022) 5% for all industrial engineers*
Median Salary (2013) $80,300 for all industrial engineers*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Quality Engineer Job Description and Duties

Across all types of industry, quality engineers are at work monitoring, testing and inspecting products to make certain they meet specified standards. Quality engineers test products to determine how long they will last, what part may break down first and how to improve product durability. They inspect product materials, mechanics and electrical systems.

Materials quality engineers verify product dimensions, color, texture and strength and locate imperfections. Mechanical quality engineers check levels of liquids and gasses, verify that parts move correctly and test the proper fit of components. Electrical quality engineers check the flow of electricity and ensure the proper operation of equipment and machinery.

Quality engineers may work in laboratory settings running tests and duplicating real-world conditions. They use tools such as micrometers, calipers, gauges, volt meters, ammeters and ohmmeters, as well as electronic inspection equipment like coordinate measuring machines (CMMs), to aid them in their work. The quality engineer also designs systems by which production quality can be checked in an ongoing process. In addition, quality engineers typically work with the production team to implement any new testing criteria or assembly methods they may have developed.

Education Requirements

An associate's degree in quality engineering is the minimum requirement for entry-level positions in this field. A bachelor's degree in quality, mechanical or industrial engineering is required for higher-level positions. A master's degree in engineering or a Master of Science in Quality Assurance is desired for management positions.

Certification

Professional certification is available through the American Society for Quality (ASQ). The ASQ provides ten different certifications to quality engineers, including the CQE (Certified Quality Engineer) certification.

Career Outlook

According the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), job opportunities for industrial engineers, including quality engineers, were expected to increase by 5% from 2012-2022. Factors such as increasing industry competitiveness and technological advances drive job growth in this field, since they force companies to improve product design and optimize the manufacturing process.

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