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What Quality Control Inspectors Do

Quality control inspectors examine products and materials for defects or deviations from manufacturers’ or industry specifications.


Quality control inspectors typically do the following:

Quality control inspectors ensure that your food will not make you sick, that your car will run properly, and that your pants will not split the first time you wear them. These workers 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 a number of tools to do their jobs. Although some still use hand-held measurement devices, such as calipers and alignment gauges, they more commonly operate electronic inspection equipment, such as coordinate-measuring machines (CMMs). 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 and prepare test reports. When they find defects, inspectors notify supervisors and help to analyze and correct the 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 do random product checks.

The following are 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:

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.

Sorters separate goods according to length, size, fabric type, or color.

Samplers test or inspect a sample for malfunctions or defects during a batch or production run.

Weighers weigh quantities of materials for use in production.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition