This year’s survey finds that quality professionals foresee a little bit more money in their paychecks, and a lot more work in their day-to-day activities.

Most Important Salary Yardsticks

The pocketbooks of most quality professionals got a little fatter last year, and a majority of the workers feel that more money will be earmarked for them next year, but these increases come with a price—stress from increased workloads, reduced resources and greater expectations.

Quality magazine’s Third Annual State of the Profession Survey once again finds that quality workers are a relatively happy lot. More than nine out of 10 quality professionals say that they are at least moderately satisfied, and, of those, more than one third are highly satisfied. Feelings of accomplishment and the enjoyment of tackling the technical challenges they face are two reasons why this is so.

Of course, as with each year, workers have their concerns. They worry about having enough hours in the day to get everything done; they worry about budget cuts and management issues, global economies and job security.

Constraints and Barriers That Impact Jobs

A typical day?

The quality worker wears many hats during a typical day. According to the 1,300 people who detailed their workload, supervising day-to-day operations and implementing solutions to problems are the biggest activities that they face. More than 60% of those surveyed have supervisory responsibility with the majority of them overseeing 2 to 5 people. On average, the total number of employees supervised is 12, a number skewed somewhat by the 3% of supervisors who oversee more than 50 people.

But this is just the start. Quality professionals change hats frequently. Many have to adhere to ISO and other standards, and many of these workers are leading the effort to oversee the transition to the new ISO 9000: 2000 standard. They have to implement quality methodologies, while being on the teams that help launch new products, develop new processes and decide what equipment to buy.

They do so at the same time they face more stringent quality requirements and increasing productivity levels. Comments from the quality professionals include a great many that include the words “more” and “new”: more responsibilities, new products. Many also use the word “less,” as in less resources.

All of these factors add up to increased hours. The average number of hours spent at work by quality professionals is 47. Ninety-one percent of those surveyed work more than 40 hours a week. Two thirds of the almost 1,400 people surveyed say that the time they spent in the work place is close to 50 hours a week. More than 300 people work in excess of 50 hours per week. As compared to last year, 33% worked more hours than they did the year before.

Of those working more hours, three quarters of them, or 344 workers, point to the transition to ISO 9001: 2000 as the cause. Eighty of those workers saw their workweek increase by more than 10 hours because of the work related to the revised standard.

In large part, workloads will probably not decrease next year, but perhaps, for some, it will not increase. About 69% of the workers feel that hours spent at work will remain the same—meaning still high, but not any higher—but 27% feel that the hours will increase. Only 4% believe that the hours they spend at work will decrease.

This workload is one of the reasons that time constraints is listed as the number one problem affecting their jobs. To meet their quality needs, 67% of the quality workers say that they work overtime, and 28% say the work is outsourced to a third-party. For about 18%, or more than 250 people, the work simply doesn’t get done.

Other factors include budget cutbacks and dealing with suppliers. Some typical responses from the quality professionals as to why they must work harder, include:

  • Increased workload with decreased number of employees.
  • More work to cover, more responsibilities and more expectations.
  • Customer is demanding that their suppliers take on more of the responsibilities than they historically had.
  • Program goals are not getting completed.
  • Work can’t be done in time.
  • Understaffing and increased sales to add along with transition to new quality management system.

How Do You Meet Excess Capacity?

Is it worth it?

Salaries are spread across the board. The mean salary is $65,190, and the median salary is $61,000, with 1% earning less than $25,000 and 9% earning more than $100,000. The average salary is flat compared to last year’s survey response, which showed average salaries of $64,810, but this year’s group reports salary increases that are greater than that amount.

In this year’s survey, 59% received an average salary increase of 5.1%. This compares to last year when workers received an average 3% raise. Almost a third of the respondents in this year’s survey didn’t get an increase last year, with a salary freeze cited by many. Of the 8.8% of the workers who took a pay cut, the average salary reduction for those 101 people is 12.7% and more than a third of them saw pay reduced by 15%.

Other survey results:

  • About 60% of those surveyed have an advanced degree with the largest group, 41%, having a bachelor’s degree. As would be expected, the higher the education levels, the greater the compensation. Just 2% of those responding hold a Ph.D., but those that do, earn an average of $90,670. On the other end of the spectrum are high school graduates who earn on average $52,660. Those who underwent a certificate program earn $56,370.
  • Six Sigma and ASQ certifications also hold earning power. A Six Sigma Green Belt for example earns an average of $69,270 while a Champion earns $88,110. Those with ASQ certification earn an average of $65,210.
  • Salary by industry shows that aerospace workers average a greater salary. This group earns an average of $70,200 followed by computer and electronic product manufacturers who earn $69,800.
  • Quality professionals who work at companies with more than 5,000 employees earn an average of $82,540, while their colleagues at companies with less than 50 employees earn $58,280.
  • Workers in the Western states are the highest paid with an average of $69,590 while those in the Midwest are the lowest paid earning an average of $63,110.
  • Workers with management titles earn an average of $93,000 while those with quality assurance titles earn $61,480.
  • Women, on average, earn 8% less than men. Women earn an average salary of $53,280, while men’s average salary is $66,510.
  • During the past year, 43.3% of workers received a cash bonus, and of those that did, the average increase over last year was 33.6%.

For the coming year, many of those surveyed are optimistic that they will receive more money. More than two thirds say they expect a pay raise at their next performance review, while 30.8% say they expect salaries to remain the same. Only 1.6% feel that salaries will go down.

Of course, the overall economy will have a part to play. Nearly 8 out of 10 people say that compensation is based on overall company performance. The second biggest factor, indicated by 45.2% of those surveyed, is the operating performance of the individual plant. Meeting deadlines for new projects and maintaining standards are also factors that dictate the amount of increase or decrease in compensation.

The numbers show that the more skills that a quality professional brings to the table, the greater the compensation for the worker. In addition, as new responsibilities are laid at their feet, quality professionals would seem to require additional training to help them meet the demands placed on them. During the last 12 months more than 1,000 workers out of the approximately 1,400 polled had taken some kind of training. Many had taken various types of training. Six Sigma and other like methodologies were cited most often with 34.1% of the workers saying that they took this kind of training. Other major types of training taken in the past year include: management training, 31.7%; ISO training, 29.4%; and software training, 25%.

Almost nine out of 10 workers say they would like to develop new skills during the next 12 months. The skills that most of the workers would like to improve upon include project management, 46.3%, problem solving, 43.3%, and time management, 38.4%.

With these skills, workers may more effectively do the myriad jobs they face every day—whether that means launching new products, tweaking an existing process or overseeing an employee. Still, judging by this year’s survey, the work will not end, and the quality professionals surveyed next year will probably being wearing an even greater number of hats.

For an expanded look at Quality magazine’s exclusive State of the Profession Survey, visit

Sidebar: Quick Facts

  • More than three quarters of the 1,421 respondents hold quality and product assurance and control titles.
  • More than 4 in 10 have a bachelor’s degree.
  • Of the 564 people who had a certificate designation 19% are Six Sigma Green Belts, 17% are Black Belts, 2% are Master Black Belts, and 4% are Champions. Of these respondents, 72% hold certifications from the American Society of Quality.
  • 73% are older than 40, and more than half of those are older than 50.
  • The industry is made up of about 90% men and 10% women.
  • Sixty-four percent have worked for the same company more than 5 years, and 28% for more than 15 years.