How to become a quality engineer (with steps and FAQs)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 28 January 2023

Published 30 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The aim of quality engineering is to ensure that a product reaches a certain level of quality. They perform quality checks on products and manufacturing processes throughout the production pipeline. Knowing the specifics of what a quality engineer is and the route to becoming one can help you decide if the career is right for you. In this article, we examine how to become a quality engineer and answer common FAQs, including what their duties are, how much they make and the skills they use to be successful.

How to become a quality engineer

If you're wondering how to become a quality engineer, follow the steps below:

1. Get the minimum educational requirements

As with most engineering roles, a degree in science or an engineering discipline is important for a quality engineer. This is the first thing employers look for, as it shows that you have engineering skills and understand the principles you use to measure quality scientifically. Some employers may only require a bachelor's degree, but a master's degree can be advantageous, especially in companies that create products with complex or dangerous processes.

2. Gain relevant experience

Apply for internships, apprenticeships and entry-level roles to gain relevant experience in quality engineering. The amount of time you spend gaining experience in these roles before becoming a fully qualified quality engineer depends on your education level. Candidates without a degree can expect to work for eight years or more before becoming eligible. Throughout this time, you gain an understanding of the most important software, processes and regulations within the field.

Related: How to craft an effective engineering internship cover letter

3. Get certifications

After accruing work experience, you can pursue certification. Many quality engineer employers require a certification from the American Society for Quality (ASQ) to become a Certified Quality Engineer (CQE). The certification is active for three years. You renew your certificate every three years by submitting a journal or by taking a recertification exam.

4. Apply for jobs

After meeting the necessary prerequisites for a quality engineer, begin applying for job openings that match your skills and training. You can find roles on job boards or contact companies that you would specifically like to work for. Quality engineers are valuable in many industries, so if you have a specific industry you'd like to work in like aviation, communication and software, it's wise to target them. Make sure that you tailor your CV and cover letter to the role and company you're applying for.

Related: How to write an engaging engineer CV in 8 simple steps

What does a quality engineer do?

A quality engineer usually performs a range of duties. They include:

  • monitoring manufacturing processes to ensure they're using the right materials and methods

  • establishing, maintaining and implementing all quality standards

  • creating training materials and best practice guides for staff

  • ensuring trainees are following current standards and up-to-date procedures

  • ensuring that all safety requirements are met in the factory

  • analysing manufacturing data and reports to identify areas of improvement

  • creating documents and reports on quality controls and systems

  • collaborating with key stakeholders, like operations managers and project managers, to refine processes

Related: Complete Guide: What is Product Engineering

Types of projects quality engineers work on

Quality engineers work in diverse environments depending on the industry they operate in. You could work in an office and spend much of your time interacting with software and statistics, a laboratory where you perform tests and explore theories or be on your feet all day within industrial sites. The most common industries you work for include:

  • aviation

  • heavy machinery

  • biomedical equipment

  • chemical

  • electronics

  • tools and dies

  • automotive

  • construction

  • software

Quality engineer salary

Most quality engineers work full-time, though some part time or contractual basis roles are available. The national average salary of a quality engineer is £33,788 per year. The amount you make can vary depending on your level of experience and education and your employer's location.

What skills does a quality engineer need?

Quality engineers use a wide variety of skills to be successful in the role. They include:

  • Attention to detail: A quality engineer ensures the effective manufacturing, installation and operation of a company's products. They rely on observation skills to identify errors or faults, as small problems in manufacturing can lead to large problems later on, including low-quality goods or potentially dangerous defects.

  • Numeracy: A quality engineer uses advanced mathematical principles in analysis, design and troubleshooting. Accuracy lowers the risk of errors and improves their ability to identify trends in data.

  • Decision making: Quality engineers conduct root cause investigations and implement action plans. They oversee and decide when to carry out potentially expensive improvements to processes to produce a net gain for the company.

  • Teamwork: Manufacturing processes involve a wide range of stakeholders, such as the engineering team, factory workers and project managers. Quality engineers work with each of these to create a quality product and ensure that each part of the pipeline synergises well.

  • Communication skills: Diverse groups of stakeholders often have diverse communication styles. Quality engineers are able to communicate information verbally and through reports to each of these groups, adjusting their methods according to the stakeholder's level of expertise.

  • Data presentation: Data is useful for identifying areas of improvement and presenting them to management. Quality engineers do this effectively with analytics tools such as Pareto charts, histograms, diagrams and flow charts.

  • Willingness to learn new methods and systems: Quality engineers strive to achieve the best and most efficient results. This often involves embracing new practices, tools, ideas and processes, which can be complex and less commonly understood than older technology.

  • Multitasking: Manufacturing often involves a wide range of teams, organisations and processes. Quality engineers interact with each of these steps within the pipelines to maximise the quality of the final product.

  • Problem-solving: Quality engineers conduct investigations to determine the root cause of issues in production and implement corrective measures and plans. They often rely on a combination of logic and creativity to solve issues.

Related: Top 9 leadership skills to develop

Quality engineer frequently asked questions

Review a list of answers to frequently asked quality engineer questions:

Do quality engineers have the same responsibilities in different industries?

The responsibilities of quality engineers vary with the industry they find employment in. You generally uphold product specifications, but the process by which you achieve this differs depending on the product. For example, a quality engineer producing a product for end-users may use human testing and physical measurements to check product specifications and quality. A quality engineer working in a software company makes use of digital techniques to automate quality checks and minimise faults.

Related: How to be an application engineer (with duties and skills)

What is the difference between a quality engineer and a product engineer?

A quality engineer uses quality assurance to ensure that products meet quality standards and pass all quality tests and that manufacturing processes follow safety regulations. A product engineer designs the initial product and is usually responsible for designing its manufacturing process. Companies hire both quality engineers and product engineers to work on the same products in their respective capacities.

What are the qualities of a good quality engineer?

A good quality engineer enjoys solving problems. You follow standards and specifications in quality control and are someone who establishes high standards for yourself. You're also a great communicator with excellent verbal and written skills. This helps you to encourage others involved in the manufacturing process to strive for the same levels of quality and efficiency.

Job description sample for a quality engineering role

Review this sample job description for a potential engineering role:

SandsCo is a leading medical devices manufacturing company. We're currently hiring a talented Quality Engineer to join our team. If you're looking for a place to begin your career, SandsCo is the perfect place to start. If you hold a degree in quality assurance or engineering, we'd like to meet you. Kindly apply if you meet our requirements.

Responsibilities:

  • set and track quality assurance goals

  • test procedures to ensure they follow quality standards

  • develop inspection methods to analyse product quality

  • work with other team members to improve products

  • review blueprints and quality documentation

  • identify the root cause of technical issues and conceptualise fixes

  • formulate plans to improve productivity in business

Qualifications:

  • master's degree in engineering

  • extensive hands-on experience working in a quality assurance environment preferred

  • in-depth knowledge of statistical analysis

  • good analytical and problem-solving skills

  • in-depth knowledge of Microsoft Office applications

  • basic arithmetic skills

  • proficiency in computer technology and systems operations

  • excellent communication and verbal skills

  • ability to multitask and work well in a fast-paced environment

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries‌ ‌may‌ ‌‌vary‌‌ ‌depending‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌hiring‌ ‌organisation‌ ‌and‌ ‌a‌ ‌candidate's‌ ‌experience,‌ ‌academic‌ background‌ ‌and‌ ‌location.‌

Related:

  • What does a quality engineer do? With definition and skills


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