Although a high school diploma is enough for the basic testing of products, complex precision-inspecting positions are filled by experienced workers.
Prospective quality control inspectors improve their chances of finding work by studying industrial trades, including computer-aided design (CAD), in high school or in a postsecondary vocational program. Laboratory work in the natural or biological sciences also may improve analytical skills and increase the chances of finding work in medical or pharmaceutical labs, where many of these workers are employed.
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.
Training for new inspectors may cover the use of special meters, gauges, computers, and other instruments; quality-control techniques; 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 inspection techniques that need less inspection by hand, workers in this occupation will have to learn to operate and program more sophisticated equipment and software applications. Because these operations require additional skills, higher education may be necessary. To address this need, some colleges are offering associate’s degrees in fields such as quality control management.
The American Society for Quality (ASQ) offers many different certifications for workers in quality control. These certifications may help workers advance in the occupation. They generally require a certain number of years of experience in the field and passing an exam.
Dexterity. Quality control inspectors should be able to quickly remove sample parts or products during the manufacturing process.
Math skills. Knowledge of basic math and computer skills are important because measuring, calibrating, and calculating specifications is a major part of quality control testing.
Mechanical skills. Quality control inspectors must be able to use specialized tools and machinery when testing products.
Physical strength. Because workers sometimes lift heavy objects, inspectors should be in good physical condition.
Stamina. Quality control inspectors must be able to stand for long periods on the job.
Technical skills. Quality control inspectors must understand blueprints, technical documents, and manuals, ensuring that products and parts fully meet quality standards.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition