Learn About Being a Quality Engineer
What does a quality engineer do?
A quality engineer oversees an organization’s manufacturing and engineering processes by ensuring the proper use of tools, materials and procedures. They also work with the quality team to create and maintain standards for manufactured products. Other tasks a quality engineer may perform include:
Work with suppliers to make sure all the components and raw materials meet the organization’s quality standards
Analyze customer feedback to identify potential flaws in the manufactured products and implement changes when necessary
Monitor the quality of employee training and the safety standards required in the manufacturing process
Document any issues in the production process and develop ways to fix them
Stay up to date with legal standards the manufactured products must meet and ensure all products are within those standards
Create and present quality reports that analyze internal and external quality standards
Most quality engineers work in full-time positions, although some part-time and contract-based roles are also available. Salaries for quality engineers depend on several factors, such as the level of education, previous relevant work experience, size of the hiring company and geographical location. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the salary link.
- Common salary in the U.S.: $30.22 per hour
- Some salaries range from $21.80 to $65.45 per hour.
Quality engineer requirements
A successful quality engineer requires a combination of education, experience, training and advanced skills.
To become an entry-level quality engineer, you need at least an associate’s degree. A quality engineering associate’s degree program will teach the basics in quality assurance, such as state and national regulations, required documentation and testing practices. Some employers prefer to hire applicants with a bachelor’s degree in quality, mechanical or industrial engineering. To successfully apply for senior quality engineer roles and management positions without experience, you may need to earn a master’s degree in quality assurance.
Quality engineers receive most of their training on the job. Some pursue an internship during college, which can help them gain practical experience while making professional connections. During internships, students or recent graduates will learn the fundamentals of quality engineering with a specific company. On-the-job training for entry-level quality engineers will include instruction on processes and procedures the business uses. They may also learn specialized software or programs.
Certifications enable professionals to prove their qualifications to current and future employers. The American Society for Quality issues the certification most quality engineers need:
Certified Quality Engineer certification
After working the necessary number of years on the job and completing your education, you need to get certified as a quality engineer by the American Society for Quality (ASQ). The examination takes place twice a year and is based on the Certified Quality Engineer Handbook. It lasts a maximum of five hours and consists of 160 multiple-choice questions. You must renew this certification every three years.
A successful quality engineer needs a solid combination of hard and soft skills to successfully perform this role. The most important are:
Quality engineers spend a significant amount of time communicating with coworkers, suppliers, customers and management. Excellent written and verbal communication skills are essential for quality engineers to make and perform requests. They also need to express complex concepts in non-technical terms so people with no quality assurance training can properly understand them.
Attention to detail
One of the most important aspects of the job is creating and implementing quality systems and standards while identifying existing or potential flaws in current systems. A quality engineer must notice every relevant detail and act accordingly.
Identifying flaws in the organization’s processes is one major job aspect, but fixing those flaws and improve the overall quality of the company’s products require excellent critical-thinking skills.
A quality engineer typically works as part of a team, so they must collaborate with other team members. They are also in constant connection with other departments within the organization, so a teamwork-oriented approach is necessary.
Quality engineers gather and interpret complex statistics to create and maintain standards and guidelines. They should have a good understanding of different mathematical concepts.
The issues a quality engineer identifies are often unexpected and with no straightforward solution. A quality manager needs to be creative to develop imaginative ways of handling these issues.
As a quality engineer, you need to constantly analyze and create reports, so basic computer skills are necessary. Good knowledge of word processing software is necessary for many day-to-day operations.
Given the many complex tasks that a quality engineer must perform daily, excellent time-management skills are important. The ability to plan your schedule and prioritize your tasks is vital to completing short- and long-term objectives.
Quality engineer work environment
Companies in a variety of industries employ quality engineers and the work environment can vary because of it. In most cases, they work in manufacturing environments or laboratories, directly observing the efficiency of processes and product quality standards. Some work environments, such as manufacturing facilities, can contain safety hazards, so the quality engineers need to wear protective gear, such as hard hats or steel-toed boots.
Depending on the company, some quality engineers stand for most work hours and directly interact with various personnel, while others spend most of their time analyzing large amounts of data and writing reports.
Quality engineers usually work full-time hours, though the shifts may vary. If a quality engineer works for a manufacturing plant that stays open seven days a week, they may have night or weekend shifts.
How to become a quality engineer
Here are the steps you can take to become a quality engineer:
1. Earn at least an associate’s degree in quality engineering.
An associate’s program teaches you the fundamentals of quality assurance. It also counts as two years of experience out of the mandatory eight required to earn a CQE. Some employers seek applicants that have completed a bachelor’s degree in quality, mechanical or industrial engineering. A bachelor’s degree also counts as four years of experience toward a CQE and helps students get a better understanding of the work process and quality standards. A master’s degree adds another year of experience for the CQE and can help graduates apply for high-level roles.
2. Apply for entry-level positions.
Use your education and any experience you have, such as an internship, to position yourself for an entry-level role.
3. Get the required on-the-job experience.
An applicant must have at least eight years of experience in at least one area of The Certified Quality Engineer Handbook before applying for a CQE. Three years must include managing control projects.
4. Get certified.
After getting experience, you can get certified as a quality engineer by the ASQ. After passing the multiple-choice exam, the applicants will have access to a broader range of quality engineering job opportunities.
Quality engineer job description example
Our manufacturing company is looking for a quality engineer to supervise and enhance our work processes. Applicants must have exceptional attention to detail so they can properly identify any potential or existing flaws in our processes and procedures. They also must have exceptional multitasking skills and the ability to successfully perform under pressure. Candidates should communicate technical data in simplified terms to other departments. The successful candidate will evolve and grow within the organization.
The right candidate will have the following qualifications:
- A bachelor’s degree in quality, mechanical or industrial engineering
- At least three years of experience in a quality-related field
- CQE preferred