No different than anyone else, economic conditions are the number one job concern of quality professionals. Despite the economic climate, almost half of quality professionals, 46%, say it’s the feeling of accomplishment that keeps them going and is the most important attribute in their current job, according to Quality Magazine’s 9th Annual State of the Profession survey.
More important than money, quality professionals want their jobs to be technically challenging, 36%, and forge good relationships with their colleagues, 33%. Salary and job security are listed as the next most important attributes by 30% and 25%, respectively.
ChallengesQuality professionals are doing more with less. During the past year, staffs have decreased for 37% of companies and remained the same for 43% of companies. On the other hand, 20% of companies have increased their staffs.
Like so many companies today, quality professionals expect a variety of constraints to impact their jobs. During the next 12 months, budget cutbacks and time constraints top the list as expected barriers, each at 59%. In the 2007 and 2008 surveys, time constraints were mentioned by 64% of quality professionals as a barrier, but budget cuts hovered around 30% in each of those years.
When asked what they are most concerned about, quality professionals, along with the rest of the country, say that economic conditions (57%) keep them up at night. Closely related, job security is mentioned by 42% of quality professionals as a concern.
In both 2007 and 2008, salary was a concern for 24% of quality professionals, but the number dropped to 18% this year.
Other areas of concern include management support, 28%; sufficient operating budget, 20%; and keeping current on technology, 14%.
In a slight shift from previous years, companies are slowing down a bit and taking their time when it comes to embracing new quality technology. Thirty-six percent will wait until others successfully use it; 34% are willing to be one of the early leaders; 16% are willing to be on the leading edge; and 14% are likely to be one of the last to use it.
Dollars and CentsIn past years we’ve combined salaries and bonuses to provide the gross annual compensation of the survey respondents. This year, salaries and bonuses were broken out separately to give a more complete picture of overall compensation packages.
The average salary for this year’s respondents is $75,861. For 43% of respondents, this was an increase in salary from the previous year; 42% reported no change; and 15% reported a decrease in salary.
For those receiving a raise, the average increase was 5.4%, but for those who received less pay, the average decrease was 12.4%.
In general, the larger the company an employee works for, the more he can expect to be paid. Those working for companies with 5,000 or more employees, average $92,494 annually, while those working for companies with less than 50 employees take home $72,531 annually. These numbers are a bit skewed though as the highest salary reported in the survey, $754,000, and the lowest salary reported, $9,000, both come from quality professionals working at companies with less than 50 employees.
As has been seen in years past, quality workers are rewarded by continuing their education. Workers completing a certificate program bring home an average of $61,569, followed by those earning a high school diploma, $63,210; an associate degree, $63,423; a bachelor’s degree, $79,875; a master’s degree, $92,205; and a Ph.D., $108,444.
Reflecting the economic times, 56% of respondents are expecting a decrease in their salaries at the time of their next performance review. Still, 38% are expecting an increase in their salary when it comes time for the next review.
Of course the amount workers see in their paychecks does not tell the entire story of their compensation packages. Ninety-five percent of quality workers are offered health insurance, 92% are offered vacation time; 87% are eligible for pensions and/or 401(k), 85% are offered dental insurance; 80% are offered life insurance; tuition reimbursement is available for 64% and on-the-job training is available for 51%.
Typical Quality ProfessionalPredominately a male-dominated industry, the number of females in the quality field has held steady (13%) during the past several years. The majority of respondents (71%) work in quality/product assurance/control and have supervisory responsibility. For the 61% who oversee employees, 43% oversee between two to five employees. Many (40%) have received a bachelor’s degree and hold ASQ certification (63%). Eighty-six percent of quality professionals are 40 or older, with the largest number of respondents (42%) falling in the 50 to 59 year-old category. The average quality professional is likely to live in the Midwest (42%) and works at a company with less than 500 employees (68%).
When asked what quality-related work activities were part of your primary responsibilities this past year, 80% indicated implementing solutions to problems and 73% indicated interfacing with management. Other quality-related activities include:
- Dealing with customers, 65%
- Dealing with suppliers, 60%
- Document adherence to formal standards, 59%
- Supervise day-to-day operations, 55%
- Continuing education/training, 52%
- Increase productivity/utilization, 48%
- Research new methods and technologies, 48%
- Implementing quality methodologies, 47%
TrainingWhen it comes to training, the majority of companies (79%) offer their employees the opportunity for ongoing training throughout the year. For those who took training, quality methodologies such as Six Sigma was the leader with 41% engaging in this type of training. Thirty-three percent of manufacturers took management training, while 30% of respondents took ISO, FDA and other regulatory standards training. Even though experts stress the importance of on-going training, 18% of respondents did not take any training even though their companies offered such opportunities.
Educational opportunities have taken many forms including:
- Self-study, books, 55%
- On-the-job training, 49%
- Trade magazines, 42%
- Off-site seminars, 42%
- Online seminars/Webcasts, 40%
- Technical training, 36%
Look for quality professionals to continue to develop their skills in the next 12 months, particularly in the following areas:
- Project management, 46%
- Problem-solving, 45%
- Time management, 36%
- Employee supervision, 19%
- Public speaking and presentations, 18%
- Teamwork, 15%
- Writing reports and proposals, 15%
- Finance and accounting, 15%
MethodologyA total of 20,179 active, qualified Quality Magazine direct request subscribers were selected from the domestic (United States only) circulation with e-mail addresses whose job titles were management, manufacturing engineering, manufacturing/ operations, quality/product assurance, engineering/technical, and research and development. These subscribers’ principle product manufactured includes: furniture and fixtures, rubber and miscellaneous plastic products, primary metal industries, fabricated metal products, nonelectronic machinery, electric and electronic equipment, transportation equipment and instruments and related products.
A Web-based survey instrument was designed for the study by the Market Research staff of BNP Media. It was sent via e-mail to subscribers between February 17 to March 4, 2009. As an incentive for response, three respondents had a chance to win a $100 American Express gift certificate. The survey was returned by 948 people for a response rate of 5%.