Quality EngineerJob Description, Salary, Career Path, and Trends

A quality engineer monitors, tests, and reports on the quality of products. They also test systems and procedures to make sure they meet technical standards. Quality engineers work in a wide variety of industries, including transportation, textiles, software, and manufacturing. In many organizations, quality engineers design the quality standards against which the company tests its products. If there’s an issue, the quality engineer documents the problem and works with other engineers to solve it.

In some cases, quality engineers are responsible for training workers in new processes. For this reason, a quality engineer must have high-level interpersonal communication skills in addition to skills and experience in engineering. Planning and analytical thinking are also a vital part of this role, to solve problems and create plans for testing.

Sample job description

A quality engineer has the responsibility of ensuring the overall quality of a manufactured product. They create supporting documentation, inspect and test products, components, and processes, and create quality control systems. Quality engineers must be critical thinkers, have excellent attention to detail, and must possess solid analytical and communication skills. [Your Company Name] is looking for a quality engineer to take our company to new heights. You should have excellent troubleshooting skills and a proven ability to ensure processes and products consistently meet established quality standards.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Develop methods to inspect and measure product quality
  • Recommend changes to improve product quality
  • Work with team members and stakeholders to enhance products
  • Ensure products meet company and industry quality standards
  • Identify problems and brainstorm solutions for them
  • Create strategies to increase productivity
  • Document results and findings from inspections
  • Implement production systems to ensure consistency and accuracy

Education and experience

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in quality, industrial, or mechanical engineering. Another requirement is extensive experience in a quality assurance environment. Some employers prefer a master’s degree or PhD for specific positions or career advancement.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Analytical, problem-solving, and critical-thinking skills
  • Teamwork and interpersonal communication skills
  • Strong technical writing ability
  • Skill in working with engineering and computer-assisted design software
  • Demonstrated skill in solving highly technical problems
  • Expertise in computer technology and systems operations
  • In-depth understanding of industry market trends and conditions

Preferred qualifications

  • Competent in TDD, BDD, ATDD approaches
  • Experienced in defining and executing manual test strategies, test plans, and effective regression testing
  • Practical usage and a good understanding of both top-down and bottom-up approaches
  • Bachelor’s degree in a related field of study

Average salary and compensation

The average salary for a quality engineer is $78,500 in the United States. Position salary will vary based on experience, education, company size, industry, and market.

LocationSalary LowSalary High
Phoenix, Arizona$78,050$105,600
Los Angeles, California$88,050$119,150
Denver, Colorado$73,350$99,300
Washington, DC$89,400$120,950
Miami, Florida$73,050$98,850
Orlando, Florida$67,350$91,150
Tampa, Florida$68,050$92,050
Atlanta, Georgia$71,350$96,550
Chicago, Illinois$82,050$111,050
Boston, Massachusetts$88,750$120,050
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota$70,700$95,650
New York City, New York$93,400$126,350
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania$76,050$102,900
Dallas, Texas$74,050$100,200
Houston, Texas$73,700$99,750
Seattle, Washington$85,400$115,550
National Average$66,750$90,250

Typical work environment

Quality engineers work in a variety of industries, and the work environment can vary as a result. Typically, they work in manufacturing environments or laboratories where they monitor and analyze the efficiency of processes and product quality standards. Some quality engineers may work in manufacturing environments that contain safety hazards and need to wear protective gear, such as hard hats or steel-toed boots. Quality engineers usually work full-time and may work shifts, including nights and weekends in plants that stay open seven days a week.

Typical hours

The typical work hours for a quality engineer are from 9 AM to 5 PM. However, some quality engineers may work non-traditional hours, depending on the needs of their company.

Available certifications

Quality engineers work in a wide range of industries, and many institutions offer certifications to help them advance their careers. Here are some of the top certifications for quality engineers:  

  • Certified Quality Engineer (CQE). This certification program is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and proves your understanding of the principles of product and service quality evaluation and control. Candidates are tested on their knowledge of the development and operation of quality control systems, application and analysis of testing and inspection procedures, the ability to use metrology and statistical methods to diagnose and correct improper quality control practices, and much more. You must have eight years of related on-the-job experience and three of those in a decision-making position. 
  • Certified Quality Auditor (CQA). The American Society for Quality (ASQ) offers the CQA certification for professionals who prove their knowledge in the standards and principles of auditing and the auditing techniques of examining, questioning, evaluating, and reporting to determine a quality system’s adequacy and deficiencies. The exam includes multiple-choice questions and case studies covering audit fundamentals, audit processes, audit competencies, quality tools and techniques, and more. Eligibility requirements include eight years of related experience, three of which are in a decision-making role.

Career path

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in quality, industrial, or mechanical engineering. Some employers prefer a master’s degree or PhD for certain jobs. Certification from the American Society for Quality (ASQ) can also be attractive to potential employers or for career advancement. Successful quality engineers can advance to supervising a team of engineers and receive greater independence to design and evaluate projects and processes. From there, they can progress into executive roles.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 17-2112.02

2020 Employment292,000
Projected Employment in 2030315,300
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 10% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift23,300 increase

According to the professional services firm Accenture, several current trends will bring change to the field of quality engineering. The first is the use of big data and applied analytics. With companies finding ways to obtain new types of data about their processes, quality engineers have more tools at their disposal to maintain efficiency and productivity. Also, it will be incumbent upon quality engineers to look at data collection systems and ensure the quality of the data collected versus the quantity.

Another trend in quality engineering is the use of machine learning or artificial intelligence (AI). These new programs will help optimize the tests quality engineers design. They’ll provide extra speed and accuracy, leading to even more sophisticated quality monitoring systems.

Sample interview questions

  • What is a quality engineer to you?
  • How do you ensure the quality of materials and products?
  • What is your definition of quality?
  • How would you investigate production flaws?
  • What interests you in this role?
  • What are the qualities needed to be a successful quality engineer?
  • How do you prioritize your work?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Can you describe a recent project in which you successfully implemented quality control procedures?
  • Why is a project quality plan important?
  • What would you do if someone wasn’t following quality standards?
  • How comfortable are you working on a team?
  • How would you implement a change needed to improve quality?
  • What besides monitoring facilitates better products?
  • What is the biggest challenge a quality engineer faces?
  • Where do you want to be in 5 years?
  • What strategies are required for this role?
  • Can you describe a time you failed as a quality engineer and what you learned?
  • How do you handle customer complaints and issues?
  • Have you ever stopped a line for a quality issue? What happened?

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