Quality Control

Opportunities

As long as there are regulations, there will be a need for quality control scientists to make sure products are in compliance.

Education

  • Bachelor’s degree in chemistry, with a  background in analytical chemistry
  • Industrial laboratory experience is highly valuable

Salaries

  • Median annual salary: $43,130 (2012)




Overview

Quality control in a factory

Quality management activities are those that ensure that a company’s products are exactly what they are supposed to be, that is, they meet all their specifications. Quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC) are two of the main activities that are required to ensure a quality product. QA and QC are closely related, but they are different concepts. QA is a set of activities that ensures that development and/or maintenance processes are adequate in order for a system to meet its objectives, whereas QC is a set of activities designed to evaluate the developed products. Another way to look at it would be to think of QA as preventing and detecting quality problems and QC as detecting errors in the product. 

Quality management activities are those that ensure that a company’s products are exactly what they are supposed to be, that is, they meet all their specifications. Quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC) are two of the main activities that are required to ensure a quality product. QA and QC are closely related, but they are different concepts. QA is a set of activities that ensures that development and/or maintenance processes are adequate in order for a system to meet its objectives, whereas QC is a set of activities designed to evaluate the developed products. Another way to look at it would be to think of QA as preventing and detecting quality problems and QC as detecting errors in the product.  

Typical Job Duties

  • Set up, troubleshoot, and maintain equipment, including calibration logs and training records
  • Prepare samples in accordance with standard operating procedures
  • Conduct analytical tests on starting materials, ingredients in-process samples and finished products, following specific protocols
  • Provide timely and high-quality data reports that document test results
  • Recheck out-of-specification results, using alternative methods if necessary
  • Test products for long-term stability or stability under various conditions
  • Interface, maintain, and populate a Laboratory Information Management System

Education

A bachelor’s degree in chemistry is required for most quality control positions. An advanced degree can be useful for positions with more supervisory responsibilities.


Workspace

Worker examining oven in biscuit factory

Most quality control work is conducted in a laboratory setting, often under specific environmental conditions. There may be a sense of urgency if manufacturing or product production is waiting on test results. Occasionally, sample collection or troubleshooting may require trips to the plant.


Is This Career a Good Fit for You?

This could be the career for you if you enjoy knowing exactly what needs to be done and how to do it. While quality control chemists get a great sense of satisfaction knowing they are protecting the safety of the users of their products, over time some find the repetitive nature of the work monotonous.


Technical Skills

  • Strong analytical technique and instrumentation skills
  • General knowledge of chemistry
  • Ability to work independently and accurately to solve problems and improve processes
  • Meticulous attention to detail, dependability, and excellent organizational skills
  • Investigative and analytical abilities for when a problem arises
  • Good interpersonal skills, including tact and diplomacy
  • Familiarity with guidelines such as good laboratory practices, good manufacturing processes, and good clinical practices (collectively known as GXPs), as well as ISO (International Standards Organization) 9000,  is helpful

Career Path

There are two general tracks in quality work—remaining an individual contributor or moving into management. While both contribute to their departments, managers add supervisory responsibilities and can move up the administrative path.


Future Employment Trends

Projected job growth through 2020 is supposed to be about average, 10% to 19%.