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 toQualityMagazine’s 9th Annual State of the Profession survey.

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.


Quality 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.

Other barriers mentioned in this year’s survey include management support, 37%; dealing with customers, 33%; dealing with suppliers, 31%; skilled labor shortage, 24%; integrating in-process measurement, 22%; and new and existing standards, 22%.

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.

As a comparison, in 2007, only 27% of quality professionals mentioned economic conditions and job security as concerns. Economic conditions and job security concerns grew in 2008 to 35% and 32%, respectively.

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%.

When times are tough, resources start to dry up. When asked, how do you see your company committing resources toward improving quality operations during the next three years, 19% responded that fewer resources would go toward quality; 36% responded more resources would go toward quality and 45% said resources would stay the same.

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.

Despite the job-related stress, the number of quality professionals who are highly satisfied in their jobs has edged up over the years from 38% in 2007 to 40% in 2008 to 43% in this year’s survey. Forty-nine percent find their jobs moderately satisfactory, while 8% are not satisfied with their jobs.

Dollars and Cents

In 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%.

As is expected, corporate management takes home the largest paycheck with an average salary of $115,092 annually. Those in manufacturing engineering average $70,377; manufacturing management/operations average $80,683; quality/product assurance/control average $72,063; and research and development average $83,033.

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.

Quality workers in the West fare the best when it comes to salary with an average of $82,149. This is followed by workers in the South, $78,789; Northeast, $77,112; and Midwest, $71,149.

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.

After a year’s absence, quality professionals in computer and electronic manufacturing regained the top spot as the category that pays its workers the best with an average salary of $97,269. This is followed by those involved in medical equipment and supplies manufacturing, $86,387; electrical equipment, appliance and component manufacturing, $81,678; motor vehicle, body, trailers and parts manufacturing, $78,735; aerospace products/parts manufacturing, $77,456; and machinery manufacturing, $73,511.

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.

While the majority (54%) of quality professionals did not receive a bonus as of January 1, 2009, for those who did, the average bonus was $4,500. For 41% of those receiving a bonus, this was an increase from the previous year. For 31% it was a decrease, and for 28% the bonus amount did not change from the prior year.

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 Professional

Predominately 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%).

Almost two-thirds of quality professionals spend between 41 to 50 hours per week on the job, and this has remained the same for many (59%) during this recession. Respondents expect the numbers of hours spent at work to remain steady during the next 12 months. Almost two-thirds spend between one and five hours per week working on the ISO 9000 transition.

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%


When 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%

While most forms of educational opportunities have remained constant over the years and self-study remains the most popular form of educational training from year-to-year, those receiving information from online seminars/Webcasts has grown 10% in the past two years.

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%

In these tough economic times, it is that feeling of accomplishment that drives quality professionals to invest in themselves and their futures.Q


A 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%.

Quality Professional at a Glance

  • Gross Annual Compensation-Salary Only: $75,861
  • Average Age: 49
  • Average Years at Current Company: 12
  • Average Length of Career in Years: 19
  • Average Hours Worked Per Week: 46
  • Average Number of Employees Supervised: 13
  • Primary Job Function: QA/QC (71%)
  • Average Company Size: 5,576 employees
  • Highest Level of Education: Bachelor’s Degree (40%)
  • Job Satisfaction: Moderate