Employment of quality control inspectors is expected to grow 8 percent from 2010 to 2020, slower than the average for all occupations. Projected employment growth reflects the continuing need to have quality assurance testing in a variety of manufacturing industries, particularly in pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.
Despite technological advances in quality control in many industries, automation is not always a substitute for inspecting by hand. Automation will likely become more important for inspecting elements related to size, such as length, width, or thickness. But inspections will continue to be done by workers for products that require tests of taste, smell, texture, appearance, complexity of fabric, or performance of the product.
Nonetheless, many manufacturers have invested in automated inspection equipment to improve quality and productivity. Continued improvements in technology allow manufacturers to automate inspection tasks, increasing workers' productivity and reducing the demand for inspectors.
Manufacturers increasingly are integrating quality control into the production process. Many inspection duties are being reassigned from specialized inspectors to fabrication and assembly workers, who monitor quality at every stage of production. In addition, the growing use of statistical process control results in smarter inspections. Using this system, manufacturers survey the sources and incidence of defects so that they can focus their efforts on reducing the number of defective products. These factors are expected to result in less demand for quality control inspectors.
Numerous jobs in the manufacturing industry are expected to arise over the coming decade as workers retire or leave the occupation for other reasons. Those with advanced skills and experience should qualify for many of these positions.
The best job opportunities are expected to be in the employment services industry and in plastic product manufacturing.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition