Quality-assurance (QA) professionals are the ones who make sure the job is done right -- whether their QA job involves manufacturing a product, making a mortgage loan or creating a safe car.
In QA work, metrics and statistical methods are used to inspect, test and analyze products, procedures and processes.Jobs in QA are varied:
A materials inspector job involves finding problems and imperfections in manufactured products.
A mechanical inspector's job is to check the fit, movement and operation of machines.
A tester's job is to see how products hold up under use and to find ways of making products more reliable.
A sorter's job is to separate goods into categories, such as length, color or fabric type.
A sampler's job is to inspect portions of a product for problems or defects.
A weigher's job is to measure the weight of materials used to manufacture goods.
A QA manager's job involves finding and correcting product defects.
A QA engineer's job is to apply mathematical and statistical modeling to manufacturing challenges.
QA Job Market
The BLS forecasts that QA job opportunities will grow 8 percent between 2010 and 2020, more slowly than the rate for all occupations. QA employment will be strongest in the pharmaceutical and medical-equipment industries, the BLS says.
As manufacturers automate their QA processes, some jobs in QA will disappear, but QA processes involving subjective judgments like taste, smell, appearance or texture will continue to be done by humans.
QA jobs in manufacturing are done primarily by hourly workers who earned a median wage of $15.88 in 2010. The lowest-paid 10 percent earned less than $9.68, while the best-paid 10 percent earned more than $26.72, the BLS says.
QA managers'jobs pay a much higher median salary -- $89,500 in 2012, according to a 2012 salary survey by the American Society for Quality (ASQ). Adding an ASQ certification can add as much as $10,000 to a quality manager's salary.
The median QA engineer salary is $75,000, with an additional $4,200 for certification, the ASQ says.
QA technicians'jobs pay a median of $45,000, with an additional $1,700 for certification, the ASQ reports.