Quality control engineers come from various backgrounds and specialize in assessing and developing quality control processes. Most QC engineers studied civil, industrial or software engineering, but those from other specialties are sometimes involved in quality control projects. Typical activities include planning and supervising the development and application of quality standards for raw materials, industrial processes and products. QC engineering projects usually relate to reducing costs by producing fewer defective products or improving safety.
Earning an Engineering Degree
You must have an engineering degree to become a QC engineer. Civil engineers interested in quality control typically work as QC engineers in the construction industry; software QC engineers in the software industry; and industrial QC engineers work in a wide variety of industries in the manufacturing and tech sectors.
Employers typically prefer QC engineers who have earned one or more professional industry certifications. The American Society for Quality offers 17 professional certifications, including the certified reliability engineer and certified software quality engineer designations. You can earn a CRE by completing an accredited four-year engineering degree, accumulating four years of professional QC experience, and passing a 150-question exam. Similar requirements apply to earning a CSQE designation.
Becoming a Professional Engineer
Earning a professional engineer license is a major goal for most engineers. Becoming a PE requires earning a state-issued license, which typically requires a four-year college degree, working with a Professional Engineer for at least four years, and passing two rigorous exams. You must be a PE in order to file construction engineering plans to a public authority for approval, and many senior government engineering jobs also require candidates to be PEs.
UpdateNew QC Manual
Nearly every senior QC engineer is eventually tasked with a major update to or a full rewrite of a company's QC manual. This kind of mission-critical project requires thoughtful planning and close collaboration with all departments. Successfully undertaking this type of enterprise-wide project is a major plus on your resume, and a career boost.
2016 Salary Information for Industrial Engineers
Industrial engineers earned a median annual salary of $84,310 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, industrial engineers earned a 25th percentile salary of $67,330, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $105,230, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 257,900 people were employed in the U.S. as industrial engineers.