Quality control technicians, also known as quality assurance technicians, work across the manufacturing, commercial and public sectors, and are responsible for carrying out checks on products and processes to ensure they meet predetermined national and international quality standards, for example, ISO 9000. Their work also includes implementing quality management systems to continually improve the standard of product or service being offered.
Some examples are outlined below and offer an insight into the duties carried out by technicians in particular sectors:
Food and drink manufacturing - implementing Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) procedures (widely used quality assurance system in food production where hazards are eliminated at specified stages throughout the production process), including microbiological, chemical and physical tests on samples; ensuring all labelling is accurate; and checking that production methods conform to relevant legislation.
Manufacturing engineering – monitoring each stage of the production process, using techniques such as statistical sample analysis to ensure that products or components fall within specified tolerance levels; checking materials and products for defects using a combination of visual checks and non-destructive testing (NDT) methods, such as ultrasonics, X-rays and resonant testing. For more details, see profile for NDT Technician.
Local government administration – carrying out departmental and interdepartmental performance reviews to ensure quality standards are meeting specified internal and external benchmarks; identifying areas of weakness and drawing up recommendations for corrective action; monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs); and developing strategies to enhance the quality of services provided to the public.
Generic duties common to all sectors include:
Quality control technicians usually work in a team under the supervision of a quality manager. See Quality Manager profile.
Technicians working in the public or business sector normally work 35 to 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. Technicians in manufacturing may work on a shift rota, including evenings and weekends.
Workplaces vary, depending on the sector but include offices, laboratories and factory production lines.
To be a quality control/assurance technician you should:
Opportunities are available in all sectors. Quality control and assurance is playing an increasingly important role as a way of demonstrating a company's competitiveness in a global market.
With experience and further training, technicians can progress to supervisory, management and policy research positions. As many of the quality assurance and control methodologies and techniques are generic, there may be opportunities to move across sectors into a higher position or into a consultancy firm.
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