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Quality Control Inspectors

Summary

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Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCTxteXoiAA.
Quick Facts: Quality Control Inspectors
2021 Median Pay $38,580 per year
$18.55 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Moderate-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2020 557,900
Job Outlook, 2020-30 -12% (Decline)
Employment Change, 2020-30 -68,100

What Quality Control Inspectors Do

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

Work Environment

Many quality control inspectors work in manufacturing. Most work full time, and overtime may be required to meet production deadlines.

How to Become a Quality Control Inspector

Quality control inspectors typically need a high school diploma to enter the occupation and receive on-the-job training once employed.

Pay

The median annual wage for quality control inspectors was $38,580 in May 2021.

Job Outlook

Employment of quality control inspectors is projected to decline 12 percent from 2020 to 2030.

Despite declining employment, about 54,900 openings for quality control inspectors are projected each year, on average, over the decade. All of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for quality control inspectors.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of quality control inspectors with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about quality control inspectors by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Quality Control Inspectors Do About this section

Quality control inspectors
Quality control inspectors remove or discard all products and equipment that fail to meet specifications.

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

Duties

Quality control inspectors typically do the following:

  • Read blueprints and specifications
  • Monitor operations to ensure that they meet production standards
  • Recommend adjustments to the assembly or production process
  • Inspect, test, or measure materials
  • Measure products with calipers, gauges, or micrometers
  • Operate electronic inspection equipment and software
  • Accept or reject finished items
  • Remove all products and materials that fail to meet specifications
  • Report inspection and test data such as weights, temperatures, grades, moisture content, and quantities inspected

Quality control inspectors, also called testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers, monitor nearly all manufactured products to ensure that they meet specified standards. Job duties vary across the manufacturing industries in which most of these inspectors work, which include foods, glassware, motor vehicles, electronic components, and structural steel.

Quality control workers use a variety of tools. Although some still use hand-held measuring devices, such as calipers and alignment gauges, workers more commonly operate electronic inspection equipment, such as coordinate-measuring machines (CMMs) and three-dimensional (3D) scanners. 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 through test reports. When they find defects, inspectors notify supervisors and help to analyze and correct production problems.

Some manufacturers have automated inspection processes, with advanced vision inspection systems installed at one or several production points. Inspectors monitoring these automated systems check equipment, review output, and conduct random product checks.

The following are examples of types of quality control inspectors:

Materials inspectors check production materials by sight, sound, or feel to locate imperfections such as cuts, scratches, missing pieces, or crooked seams. Materials inspectors also may use devices such as infrared microscopes to analyze plastic, rubber, and other substances and to look for deterioration or defects.

Mechanical inspectors generally verify that parts fit, move correctly, and are properly lubricated. They may check the pressure of gases and the level of liquids, test the flow of electricity, and conduct test runs to ensure that machines run properly.

Work Environment About this section

Quality control inspectors
Quality control inspectors may be required to stand for long periods of time or lift heavy objects.

Quality control inspectors held about 557,900 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of quality control inspectors were as follows:

Manufacturing 64%
Professional, scientific, and technical services 9
Administrative and support services 8
Wholesale trade 5

Inspectors may be required to stand for long periods and may have to lift heavy items.

Injuries and Illnesses

Some quality control inspectors are exposed to loud noises, moving mechanical parts, and hazardous contaminants, such as airborne particles that irritate the eyes and skin. Workers typically wear protective eyewear, ear plugs, and appropriate clothing to help protect themselves from injury.

Work Schedules

Most quality control inspectors work full time. Some inspectors work evenings, overnight, or weekend shifts. Shift assignments may be based on seniority. Overtime may be required to meet production deadlines.

How to Become a Quality Control Inspector About this section

Quality control inspectors
Quality control inspectors usually receive up to one year of on-the-job training.

Quality control inspectors typically need a high school diploma to enter the occupation and receive on-the-job training once employed.

Education

Quality control inspectors typically need a high school diploma for entry-level jobs. Postsecondary certificate programs are available for instruction on quality control concepts, such as inspection planning and auditing. Students in these programs also gain familiarity with tools and technologies that quality control inspectors use.

Some employers require or prefer to hire candidates who have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a field such as quality control management or engineering.

Training

Workers typically receive on-the-job training that lasts more than 1 month and up to 1 year.

In some industries, such as automobile and aerospace manufacturing, inspectors train for the occupation in an apprenticeship program. Apprentices typically receive paid on-the-job training and instruction. Requirements for entering these programs, which are typically sponsored by trade associations or businesses, may include having a high school diploma, related work experience, or relevant licenses.

Training for new inspectors may cover the use of special meters, gauges, computers, and other instruments; quality control techniques such as Six Sigma; blueprint reading; safety; and reporting requirements.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

The American Society for Quality (ASQ) offers various certifications, including a designation for Certified Quality Inspector (CQI), and various levels of Six Sigma certifications. Although optional, certification may demonstrate a level of competence and professionalism that makes candidates more attractive to employers. It also may increase opportunities for advancement. Requirements for certification generally include a certain number of years of experience in the field and passing an exam.

Important Qualities

Detail oriented. Quality control inspectors must be able to focus to notice flaws or deficiencies in finished products or materials. 

Math skills. Knowledge of basic math is important for measuring, calibrating, and calculating specifications in quality control testing.

Mechanical skills. Quality control inspectors use tools and machinery when testing products.

Physical stamina. Some quality control inspectors must stand for long periods on the job.

Physical strength. Quality control inspectors may be required to lift or maneuver heavy production materials or finished products.

Technical skills. To ensure that products and parts meet quality standards, inspectors must understand the relevant blueprints, technical documents, and manuals.

Pay About this section

Quality Control Inspectors

Median annual wages, May 2021

Total, all occupations

$45,760

Inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers

$38,580

Other production occupations

$37,710

 

The median annual wage for quality control inspectors was $38,580 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $28,820, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $62,970.

In May 2021, the median annual wages for quality control inspectors in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Professional, scientific, and technical services $46,280
Manufacturing 40,020
Wholesale trade 37,800
Administrative and support services 30,070

Most quality control inspectors work full time. Some inspectors work evenings, overnight, or weekend shifts. Shift assignments may be based on seniority. Overtime may be required to meet production deadlines.

Job Outlook About this section

Quality Control Inspectors

Percent change in employment, projected 2020-30

Total, all occupations

8%

Other production occupations

-1%

Inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers

-12%

 

Employment of quality control inspectors is projected to decline 12 percent from 2020 to 2030.

Despite declining employment, about 54,900 openings for quality control inspectors are projected each year, on average, over the decade. All of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Continued improvements in technology allow manufacturers to automate inspection tasks, increasing workers’ productivity and reducing the demand for inspectors. Assemblers and fabricators monitor quality at every stage of production, assuming many of the duties previously done by specialized inspectors. In addition, use of three-dimensional (3D) scanners decreases the amount of time required to inspect parts and finished goods for correct measurement.

Despite technological advances in quality control in many industries, automation is not appropriate for all inspections. Personal inspections will continue to be needed for products that require testing for taste, smell, texture, appearance, fabric complexity, or performance. Automation will likely become more important for inspecting elements related to size, such as length, width, or thickness.

Employment projections data for quality control inspectors, 2020-30
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2020 Projected Employment, 2030 Change, 2020-30 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers

51-9061 557,900 489,800 -12 -68,100 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of quality control inspectors.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2021 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Construction and building inspectors Construction and Building Inspectors

Construction and building inspectors ensure that construction meets building codes and ordinances, zoning regulations, and contract specifications.

High school diploma or equivalent $61,640
Fire inspectors and investigators Fire Inspectors

Fire inspectors examine buildings in order to detect fire hazards and ensure that federal, state, and local fire codes are met.

See How to Become One $63,080
Industrial engineers Industrial Engineers

Industrial engineers devise efficient systems that integrate workers, machines, materials, information, and energy to make a product or provide a service.

Bachelor's degree $95,300
Industrial engineering technicians Industrial Engineering Technologists and Technicians

Industrial engineering technologists and technicians help engineers solve problems affecting manufacturing layout or production.

Associate's degree $60,220
Logisticians Logisticians

Logisticians analyze and coordinate an organization’s supply chain.

Bachelor's degree $77,030

Contacts for More Information About this section

For details about apprenticeships or other work opportunities in this occupation, contact the offices of the state employment service, the state apprenticeship agency, or local businesses that employ quality control inspectors. Apprenticeship information is available from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Apprenticeship program online or by phone at 1-877-872-5627. Visit Apprenticeship.gov to search for apprenticeship opportunities.

For more information about quality control inspectors, including certification, visit

American Society for Quality (ASQ)

For more information about quality control training, visit

International Society of Automation (ISA)

Quality Assurance Association (QAA)

O*NET

Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers, and Weighers

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Quality Control Inspectors,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/production/quality-control-inspectors.htm (visited May 05, 2022).

Last Modified Date: Monday, April 18, 2022

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2021 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2021, the median annual wage for all workers was $45,760.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2020

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2020, which is the base year of the 2020-30 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2020-30

The projected percent change in employment from 2020 to 2030. The average growth rate for all occupations is 8 percent.

Employment Change, 2020-30

The projected numeric change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2020-30

The projected numeric change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2020 to 2030.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

2021 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2021, the median annual wage for all workers was $45,760.