Quality Control Technician

The Job and What's Involved

As a quality control technician your job would be to check that industrial products and processes meet national and international quality standards, such as ISO 9000, Matrix and Investors in People.

You might also help to set up and help manage quality control systems for businesses.

The following examples show the kind of work you might do in different industries.

In food and drink manufacturing:

  • Finding and removing faults at fixed stages of the production process (known as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point).
  • Testing microbiological, chemical and physical samples
    making sure labelling is accurate.
  • Checking that production methods meet relevant legislation.

In manufacturing engineering:

  • Monitoring each stage of the production process.
  • Using statistical analysis to make sure that machined parts are within tolerance limits.
  • Inspecting materials and products for defects, using methods like non-destructive testing (NDT).

Some tasks would be common to most industries, such as:

  • Dealing with customer feedback and complaints, and passing on issues to managers where necessary.
  • Assessing and rating suppliers.
  • Reviewing and updating quality control policies.
  • Training and mentoring new staff.
  • Producing reports for quality managers.

You would usually work in a team, under the supervision of a quality manager.

You would normally work 35 to 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. In manufacturing, you might work on a shift rota that includes evenings and weekends.

Depending on your industry, you could be based in an office, laboratory or factory production area.

Trainee salaries can be between £12,500 and £15,000 a year.
Experienced technicians can earn between £16,000 and £25,000.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Quality control and assurance is playing an increasingly important role as a way of demonstrating a company's competitiveness in a global market.

You could find opportunities in all industries in the private and public sector.

Education and Training

You normally need experience and/or qualifications appropriate to your industry to become a quality control technician. For entry to specific engineering and manufacturing industries please see the relevant jobguides.

Most employers will also ask for some GCSE's, A levels or equivalent vocational qualifications related to your field, such as engineering or food science.

You may be able to train as an apprentice within your chosen industry and work your way up to a quality control position. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

Although not essential, you could study for a foundation degree, BTEC HND or degree in quality management, assurance and control. To search for colleges and universities offering these courses see the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) website.

Universities and Colleges Admissions Service

Some knowledge of quality standards and working methods will be useful when applying for jobs in quality control. You can find details of these on the British Standards Institution (BSI) website.

British Standards Institution

A Few More Exams You Might Need

You would receive training from your employer, covering in-house testing procedures and quality standards, as well as industry regulations. You could take various work-based qualifications covering quality control, including:

  • NVQ Performing Engineering Operations levels 1 and 2.
  • NVQ Laboratory and Associated Technical Activities levels 1 to 4.
  • NVQ Food Manufacture levels 1 to 3.
  • Diploma in Engineering Inspection and Quality Control.

You may also have the opportunity to gain a recognised professional qualification in quality management once you are working as a technician. Relevant courses include:

  • Chartered Quality Institute (CQI) Level 3 Certificate in Quality (for people new to quality control).
  • CQI Level 5 Diploma in Quality.
  • Chartered Management Institute (CMI) Level 4 Diploma in Quality Management.

The CQI offer a membership scheme for new entrants and experienced workers, plus a programme of Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Through this you may also be able to achieve Chartered Quality Professional (CQP) status.

Contact the CQI and CMI for more details.

There are other work-based awards available for specific industries, containing quality control units. Contact the professional body relevant to your industry for more details.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A quality control technician needs:

  • Excellent spoken and written communication skills.
  • Technical knowledge relevant to your industry.
  • Knowledge of relevant legislation and quality control standards.
  • Good organisational skills and a methodical approach to work.
  • The ability to prioritise workloads and meet project deadlines.
  • The ability to pay close attention to detail.
  • Good teamworking skills.

Your Long Term Prospects

With experience and further training, you could progress to supervisory, management or research jobs.

Get Further Information

Chartered Quality Institute
12 Grosvenor Crescent, London SW1X 7EE
Tel: 020 7245 6722
Website: www.thecqi.org

Chartered Management Institute (CMI)
Management House, Cottingham Road,
Corby, Northants NN17 1TT
Tel: 01536 204222
Website: www.managers.org.uk

British Standards Institution (BSI),
389 Chiswick High Road, London W4 4AL
Website: www.bsigroup.co.uk

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