Despite the tales of economic woes and the disagreements as to whether or not the United States is in a recession, 94% of quality professionals find satisfaction in their jobs, according to Quality Magazine’s 8th Annual State of the Profession Survey. Nearly half of all quality professionals, 40%, claim their job satisfaction is highly satisfactory. This is a 2% increase over last year. Another 54% are moderately satisfied with their jobs.

For 45% of survey respondents, a feeling of accomplishment is the most important attribute in their job. This is followed by technical challenge for 39% and salary for one-third of respondents.


Again this year, annual salaries-including bonuses-continue to climb, to an average of $76,654. While only a 0.59% increase from last year, of the 67% of respondents who received an increase, the average increase was 5%. On par with the 2007 survey, 39% of this year’s respondents received an increase of 5% or more.

On a bright note, 72% of respondents expect to receive an increase in their salary/compensation at their next performance review.

Salaries for quality professionals in the West were the highest at $83,518. For the first time, the survey took into account the average salary and bonus of quality professionals in California, which is an average of $94,033. With California removed from the equation, quality professionals in the West average a total compensation of $75,934, which is similar to the averages of the country’s other regions: the Northeast at an average of $77,775, the South with an average of $76,937 and the Midwest with an average of $74,704.

Just more than half of the 55% who received a cash bonus during the past year said it was an increase over last year’s bonus. Twenty-eight percent saw no change in the amount of their bonus, while 21% saw a decrease in their bonus.

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 $95,141 annually, while those working for companies with less than 50 employees take home $73,243 annually.

In a bit of a shift from last year, quality professionals in medical equipment and supplies manufacturing average the largest annual gross compensation at $88,005. This is followed by those involved in aerospace product/parts manufacturing, $83,827; navigation, measuring, electromedical and control instruments manufacturing, $82,971; machinery manufacturing, $80,478; and electrical equipment, appliance and component manufacturing, $79,882. Last year’s top category, computer and electronic manufacturing, fell to sixth place with annual compensation of $78,291, nearly a 19% decrease.

As can be expected, those higher on the corporate ladder garner larger salaries. Respondents in corporate management average annual compensation of $116,051. Respondents in manufacturing management/operations average $93,833; respondents in research and development average $80,100; manufacturing engineers average $72,785, and those in quality/product assurance/ control average $72,489.

As with many occupations, the more schooling one has, the bigger the paycheck. High school graduates earn annually average $59,559, those with a G.E.D. earn $61,418 annually, while those with an associate’s degree earn $62,943 annually. Continuing education pays off-those holding a bachelor’s degree earned an average of $83,213; those with a master’s degree earned $94,801 and those with a Ph.D. earned an average of $117,246.

Those who continue training within the quality field in general earn more than those who don’t. Respondents with ASQ certification earn an average of $75,805. Six Sigma Green Belts bring home an annual average compensation of $81,657; Six Sigma Black Belts earn $88,374 annually; Six Sigma Master Black Belts average $119,211; and Six Sigma Champions average $113,715.


Salary is not the biggest job concern on quality professionals’ minds. Rather it is a lack of management support that 40% of respondents say is their biggest concern. That is followed by economic conditions, 35%; job security, 32%; salary, 24%; and keeping current on technology, 20%.

When asked what constraints or barriers will impact your job most during the next 12 months, 64% of respondents listed time constraints as the biggest barrier. This was followed by management support, 40%; dealing with customers and dealing with suppliers, 35% each; skilled labor shortage, 33%; budget cutbacks, 31%; and new and existing standards, 24%.

It is no surprise that time constraints are listed as the biggest barrier-everyone is doing more with less these days. When asked how quality professionals meet quality needs that exceed in-house capacity, 65% meet the challenge by putting in overtime. Twenty-six percent of companies outsource to a third party, while another 26% hire temporary workers. But for 13% of the companies, the work simply doesn’t get done.

Quality Isn't Going Anywhere

Quality is here to stay. With numbers similar to last year, 47% of respondents have managed not to outsource their company’s production. Only 1% of the companies off-shores 100% of their production.

During the next three years, 47% of quality professionals expect their companies to commit more resources toward improving quality operations. Forty-two percent expect their companies to commit the same amount of resources to improving quality, while only 11% expect to see fewer resources committed to quality during the next three years.

For almost one-third of companies, 32%, the size of quality staffs has increased, while the quality staff size has remained steady for 46% of companies.

The increase in staff may be attributed to the fact that 35% of respondents said their companies are willing to be one of the early leaders when it comes to embracing quality technologies. Another 18% are willing to be on the leading edge. Thirty-four percent of companies take a wait-and-see approach and let other companies successfully implement quality technologies before implementing it themselves.

But for now, implementing solutions to problems is one of the primary responsibilities of quality professionals at 79%. Other primary responsibilities include:
  • Interfacing with management, 70%
  • Dealing with customers, 64%
  • Dealing with suppliers, 62%
  • Document adherence to formal standards, 57%
  • Supervising day-to-day operations, 56%
  • Continuing education and training, 53%

Eight-three percent of respondents are offered ongoing training throughout the year. The types of training respondents took advantage of include methodologies such as Six Sigma, 39%; management, 34%; ISO, FDA and other regulatory standards, 25%; software, PC, 22%; and equipment operation/repair 15%. Nearly one-quarter of respondents, 21%, did not take part in any type of training even though their companies offer on-going training.

Quality professionals would like to continue to develop a variety of skills and continue training in a variety of areas in the upcoming year including project management, 46%; problem-solving, 45%; time management, 37%; employee supervision, public speaking and presentations, and teamwork, all with 17%; writing reports and proposals, 16%; and finance and accounting, 15%.

Taking into account the opportunities quality professionals have within their companies to develop their skills, company-paid benefits and annual compensation, quality professionals are still a happy lot.


A total of 24,764 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. As an incentive for response, one out of every 100 respondents had a chance to win a $50 American Express gift certificate. The survey was returned by 1,508 people for a response rate of 6%.Q

Average Quality Professional at a Glance

  • Annual Gross Compensation: $76,654
  • Average Age: 49
  • Average Years at Current Company: 12
  • Average Length of Career in Years: 19
  • Average Hours Worked Per Week: 47
  • Average Number of Employees Supervised: 14
  • Primary Job Function: QA/QC (73%)
  • Average Company Size: 7,414 employees
  • Highest Level of Education: Bachelor’s Degree (41%)
  • Job Satisfaction: Moderate (54%)

  • Tech Tips

  • Average salaries continue to increase

  • Level of job satisfaction climbs

  • A feeling of accomplishment is the most important attribute in current job

  • Most companies offer ongoing training

  • More than one-third of companies are willing to be quality leaders