What Is a Quality Engineer? Job Descriptions, Salaries, and Skills Required to Become One

Quality engineering is the key to many products that shape our day to day lives. From the phone we talk on, computer we work on, or vehicle we commute in, a quality engineer plays a vital role in making the goods and devices we spend so much of our lives relying on.

In this article, we will cover the following topics that will give you a complete understanding of what is quality engineer and how to become one: 

  • What does a quality engineer do?
  • How to become a quality engineer
  • Skills required for a career in quality engineering
  • Quality engineer salary
  • What are the quality engineer’s responsibilities?
  • Top industries with a demand for quality engineers

What Does a Quality Engineer Do?

When it comes to quality engineering, the goal is always a quality product. Starting with the initial product concept through to the manufacturing stages, a quality engineer oversees it all, which is why this person plays a crucial role in ensuring products are manufactured at only the highest standard and without defects.

You can often find quality engineers working in a manufacturing or laboratory environment alongside the quality control team to maintain high standards within products and processes. The engineer oversees all manufacturing and engineering processes to prevent potential issues that may arise in all processes and products.

A quality engineer performs routine quality checks and creates preventive measures that help to mitigate defects and achieve only the highest quality products every time, making these professionals an integral part of any manufacturing team.

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How to Become a Quality Engineer

Looking to start a new career in this field? Becoming successful requires a balanced mix of education, training, skills, and experience.

Start your career in three simple steps:

1. Get Educated

Quality engineers are required to have, at minimum, an associate’s degree in quality engineering. Through your education, you’ll learn the basics of quality assurance, including regulations (both state and national), documentation, and testing practices. Some senior positions may also require a master’s degree in quality assurance. 

2. Get Experienced

Before getting certified in this field, you must build experience in the field. Get your feet wet with entry-level positions or internships to exercise your education and gain the real-world experience required to become successful.

3. Get Certified

With an associate’s degree and work experience under your belt, you’re ready to get your quality engineer certification by the American Society for Quality. The CQE Certification Exam covers topics such as management and leadership, the quality system, product and process design, product and process control, continuous improvement, quantitative methods and tools, and risk management. Once you’ve attained your CQE certification, you must renew it every three years to ensure your knowledge is up to date.

Skills Required for a Career in Quality Engineering

In this role, education is only the tip of the iceberg. Along with your associate’s degree and CQE Certification, you’ll require a number of hard and soft skills to help you effectively control and measure the quality of manufacturing practices and goods.

Hard and soft skills beneficial to this career include:

  • Mathematics 
  • Computers
  • Communication
  • Attention to detail
  • Critical thinking
  • Teamwork
  • Creativity
  • Time management

Quality Engineer Salary

On average, a quality engineer’s salary is $76,919 per year in the United States. In addition to the impressive salary, employees in this occupation often receive benefits including 401(k) and 401(k) matching, health insurance, and dental insurance.

What Are the Quality Engineer’s Responsibilities?

A major player within the production of goods, a quality engineer is responsible for the overall quality of manufactured products. 

Though tasks may vary depending on the organization, common responsibilities include:

  • Establish and implement quality standards
  • Monitor workflows, processes, and products
  • Create quality documentation
  • Collaborate with operations managers to identify opportunities for improvements to workflow and controls, to ensure they comply with health and safety codes and regulations
  • Review systems and processes to develop continued improvements and efficiencies
  • Inspect and test processes and products to ensure they meet or exceed standards

Analyze manufacturing data and reports

Work toward continuous improvement within the manufacturing process through a variety of techniques including, but not limited to Six Sigma, quality by design, quality by control, and quality assurance

Top Industries with a Demand for Quality Engineers

Several industries that are dependent on manufacturing environments and laboratories rely on quality engineers to test system processes and monitor quality standards. 

A few of the top industries include:

Technology

Quality engineers test, inspect, and analyze computers and other electronics to make sure they meet set safety and control standards. Find jobs as a quality engineer in the technology industry.

Food & Beverage

Quality engineers play a vital role in the food and beverage industry as even the smallest error in production can cause a ripple effect, impacting the health and safety of consumers and destroying public trust. Find jobs as a quality engineer in food and beverage.

Automotive

Quality engineers in the automotive industry work across all phases of product development to make sure the vehicles that get us from point A to B are safe and manufactured to specification. Find jobs as a quality engineer in automotive.

Medical & Pharmaceutical 

Working within FDA regulations, professionals in the medical and pharmaceutical industries work to develop safe and quality medical equipment and medications. Find jobs as a quality engineer in pharmaceuticals.

Aviation, Space, and Defense

Quality engineers in the aviation, space, and defense industry oversee and maintain quality standards and compliance with legislation that are detrimental to public safety. Find jobs as a quality engineer in aviation, space, and defense.

Energy (Oil, Gas, Nuclear, and Chemical)

Quality engineers within the energy industry work with manufacturers to develop processes, test procedures, implement systems, and analyze efficiencies among various types of renewable energy. Find jobs as a quality engineer in energy.

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