Quality professionals are seeing more money line their pockets.

Annual Salary Compared to Last Year

It’s been a bumpy road the past few years, but now that the economy has leveled out somewhat and manufacturers are starting to see orders come in on a regular basis, the quality professional is receiving his piece of the proverbial pie.

Nearly half of the respondents to the 11th AnnualQualityState of the Profession Study received a salary increase and are taking home an annual average pay check of $78,504. Compared to last year, an additional 19% of survey respondents are taking home a bit more this year. Building on those numbers, 63% of respondents anticipate a salary increase of their next performance review.

Salary Increase From Last Year

The Bottom Line

The average salary for the year’s respondents of $78,504, is a 6% increase from last year’s average annual salary of $74,028. In last year’s survey, only 29% of respondents received a salary increase, but this year 48% received an increase. Compared to the 20% who received a pay decrease last year, workers this year fared better-only 6% reported a salary decrease, but for those who received a decrease, the average pay cut was 18%.

Quality professionals fortunate enough to receive a raise saw an average increase of 5%.

For the 46% of respondents whose salaries stayed the same when compared to the previous year, the most often cited reasons were pay freezes, the economic climate and a decrease in sales and/or profits.

Not surprisingly, corporate management takes home the largest paycheck with an annual average salary of $109,324, but this is a 5.1% decrease from the previous year’s annual salary of $115,183.

Change in Number of Hours Spent at Work in Past Year

Those in research and development earn an average of $87,585, a decrease of 8.5% compared to last year, while those involved in manufacturing management/operations bring home an average of $87,266, a 6.4% increase from last year. In other areas, manufacturing engineers earn an average of $77,379 and those in quality/product assurance/control average $74,894.

Quality professionals in the computer and electronic product manufacturing sector bring home the largest paychecks at an average of $87,806. This is followed by the aerospace product/parts manufacturing sector, which averages $86,599, a 9.5% increase from the previous year. Those in electrical equipment, appliance and component manufacturing average $84,867, and those in medical equipment and supplies manufacturing average $82,717.

Average Hours Worked Per Week

Last year quality professionals in navigation, measuring, electromedical and control instruments manufacturing took the top spot as the category with the highest paid workers with an average salary of $94,900, but this year salaries fell 18.1% to $77,750.

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 $103,501 annually, a 3.4% increase from last year. Respondents working for smaller companies seem to have been rewarded for sticking it out through the tough times; they received 14.9% increase in salary for an average of $69,576.

The region of the country in which quality professionals work also affects their pay. Workers in the Northeast, Midwest and South saw their salaries increase this year. In past years, workers in the West have garnered the largest paychecks, but this year their salaries decreased 5.8% to an average of $78,043.

Length of Employment at Current Company

This year workers in the South received a staggering 16.7% pay increase to an average of $84,682, while those in the Southeast and Midwest saw more modest salary gains of 6.2% and 5.3%, respectively.

As is the case in many fields, quality workers are rewarded for continuing their educations. Workers completing a certificate program brought home, on average, $59,932. Those with a high school diploma brought home an average of $65,586, an 18.5% increase from last year. That is followed by those with an associate degree was worth $69,098; a bachelor’s degree, $80,109; and a master’s degree, $92,084. Quality professionals with a Ph.D. earn an average salary of $140,444, a 34% increase from last year.

The lowest salary reported for a quality professional this year of $12,000 was from a male, working at a company of less than 50 employees. He works in the Midwest as a quality/product assurance/control specialist in the computer and electronic manufacturing sector, holds a master’s degree and maintains ASQ certification.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the largest salary reported in this year’s survey of $220,000 is from a male who works at a company of more than 5,000, also in the computer and electronic product manufacturing sector. He works in the Northeast in manufacturing management/operations, has a master’s degree and is a Six Sigma champion.

Length of Career

The good news is that 63% of respondents expect an increase in their salary at their next performance review. Another 35% expect no changes in salary compensation and only 1% expects a decrease in salary.

When it comes to annual bonuses, again those at larger companies fared better. Almost 63% of quality professionals at companies with more than 5,000 employees took home a bonus to the tune of $8,815 on average. On the other side of the spectrum, only 39% of quality professionals at companies with less than 50 employees took home bonuses that averaged $1,666.

The amount of education also affects the size of the bonus. The average bonus for a quality professional with a high school diploma was $1,724, compared to the average $9,400 bonus for a quality professional with a Ph.D. The largest reported bonus of $60,000 is from a respondent who holds a bachelor’s degree.

The dollars and cents on the paycheck is only part of the quality professional’s total compensation package. Ninety-five percent of quality workers are offered health insurance, 93% are offered vacation time; 89% are eligible for 401(k), 85% are offered dental insurance; and 79% are offered life insurance. Tuition reimbursement is available for 60%, and on-the-job training is available for 51%.

Job Concerns


As in the past, quality professionals are logging more time on the job in order to get the work done. For the 33% of quality professionals putting in more hours, the average increased from 45.8 hours in 2009 to 47 hours this year. The increase may well be because business has started to pick up.

For many companies, staff sizes have remained the same during the past year (47%), while 20% of companies saw a decrease in staff sizes and 33% of companies reported an increase in staff.

Also on the rise is the number of quality professionals putting in overtime. Sixty-seven percent reports putting in overtime compared to 60% last year. Also on the uptick is the number of temporary workers used to get the job done-31% of companies this year vs. 20% last year. Outsourcing to third parties rose 6% in the past year to 30%.

Primary Job Function

Last year 17% of companies were not able to meet quality expectations that exceeded in-house capacity. This year the number has dropped to 8%.

The average quality professional wears a variety of hats. As part of their quality-related work activities that are part of their primary responsibilities, most respondents (80%) implement solutions to problems; 72% interface with management; 66% deal with customers; 65% document adherence to formal standards such as ISO; 61% deal with suppliers; 57% supervise day-to-day operations; 52% work on continuing education/training; and 49% are responsible for implementing quality methodologies, such as Six Sigma and lean manufacturing.

In 2009, time constraints and budget cutbacks, both at 59%, topped the list of expected job constraints/barriers in the upcoming year. Time constraints continue to be an issue as cited by 65% of respondents. Last year budget cutbacks were cited as a concern by only 44% of those surveyed, and this year the number has dropped even further to 27%.

A growing concern among quality professionals over the years has been the lack of management support. This year it is the second most cited barrier (40%) that will impact quality professionals’ jobs.

Other barriers mentioned in this year’s survey include dealing with customers, 39%; dealing with suppliers, 36%; skilled labor shortage, 29%; new and existing standards, 26%; integrating in-process measurement, 25%; and making new technology work and information overload, both at 22%.

Primary Product Manufactured

In addition to the barriers and constraints quality professionals deal with on a regular basis, there are a number of issues which they are concerned about. For the past several years economic conditions have kept respondents awake at night, but this year the top concern is management support (41%). While worries about the economy have decreased 12% during the past year, it is still a top concern among 35% of respondents. Closely related, job security is mentioned by 29% of quality professionals as a concern, a 9% drop from last year, and a 15% drop in the past two years.

Edging up the list of concerns is the need to keep current on technology, with 23% citing it as a concern, an 8% increase from a year ago.

On the positive side, it appears that companies are committing more resources toward improving quality operations during the next three years. Fifty percent see their companies as willing to commit to more resources, up from 36% two years ago. Only 7% expect their companies to commit fewer resources to quality, down from 19% two years ago. And 43% expect their company to commit the same resources toward improving quality.


On par with previous years, when it comes to embracing new quality technology, 35% of companies are willing to be one of the early leaders, while another 35% will wait until others successfully use it. Another 15% are likely to be the last to embrace new quality technology, and another 15% are willing to be on the leading edge.

Given the ups and downs of the manufacturing industry the past several years, it is reassuring to know that the number of quality professionals who are highly satisfied in their jobs remained the same this year at 36%. Again this year 56% find their jobs moderately satisfactory, while 8% are not satisfied with their jobs.

While working at a larger company may have its advantages such as larger salaries and bonuses, it is interesting to note that companies with more than 5,000 employees also have the largest number of employees who are not satisfied with their jobs (14.5%).

Job Satisfaction


The majority of companies (79%) offer their employees opportunities for ongoing training throughout the year. For those who took training, quality methodologies such as Six Sigma were the leader with 35% engaging in the type of training. Thirty-two percent of manufacturers took ISO, FDA and other regulatory standards training, while 32% participated in management training.

While training is an important aspect of many jobs and experts stress the importance on on-going training, 21% of respondents did not partake in any training in the past year.

For those who participated in training, educational opportunities have taken many forms including:

Average Salary by Region

Self-study, books, 56%

On-the-job training, 49%

Online seminars/Webcasts, 46%

Off-site seminars, 39%

Trade magazines, 37%

Technical training, 34%

Trade shows, 31%

Association training, 30%

On-site seminars, 28%

Courses at local colleges, 21%

Equipment training, 19%

What quality-related activities were part of your primary responsibilities during the past year? (multiple responses allowed)

When factoring in gender in regards to the type of training respondents have taken in the past 12 months, more men (14.8%) have taken training in equipment operation/repair than women (6.5%). Men also have taken more training in regards to PC software than women, 24.5% vs. 14.5%. On the flip side, half of the women respondents have taken ISO 9000 training compared to 31.4% of men.

More women (70.8%) than men (59.9%) have obtained ASQ certification.

Look for quality professionals to continue developing their skills in the next 12 months, particularly in the following areas:

Project management, 42%

Problem-solving, 40%

Time management, 33%

Employee supervision, 17%

Teamwork, 15%

Writing reports and proposals, 15%

Finance and accounting, 13%

Public speaking and presentations, 11%

When it comes to the types of skills quality professionals would like to develop in the next year, men are more likely than women to take time management courses, 39.2% vs. 31.9%.

Women, on the other hand, would like to develop project management skills (55.1% vs. 45.7%) and problem solving skills (49.3% vs. 43.6%).


Typical Quality Professional

Still a male-dominated industry, the number of females in the quality field dipped slightly this year to 14%.

The majority of respondents (73%) works in quality/product assurance/control and has supervisory responsibility. For the 61% who oversee employees, 43% oversee between two to five employees, while another 21% oversee six to 10 employees and 19% oversee 11 to 25 employees. Many (40%) have received a bachelor’s degree and hold ASQ certification (61%). Eighty-seven percent of quality professionals are 40 or older, with the largest number of respondents (44%) falling in the 50- to 59-year-old category. The average quality professional has been in the industry 20 years and at his current company for 12 years. Thirty percent of respondents have been involved in quality for more than 25 years and of those, 13% of respondents have been at their current company for more than 25 years.

Quality professionals are most likely to work in the Midwest (43%) at a company with less than 500 employees (66%).

He likely works between 41 to 50 hours per week, which has remained the same for many (62%) during the past year.

The typical quality worker is likely part of a team or committee that sets quality goals for:

New processes, 68%

Productivity, 62%

New product development, 54%

New investments, 39%


Most Important Job Attributes

A total of 24,775 active, qualifiedQualityMagazine direct-request subscribers were selected from the domestic (United States only) circulation with e-mail addresses whose job titles included 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.

Certification Designations Held (Multiple Responses Allowed)

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 7 to February 15, 2011. As an incentive for response, three respondents had a chance to win a $100 American Express gift card. The survey was returned by 627 people for a response rate of 3%.Q

Average Quality Professional at a Glance

Gross Annual Compensation: $78,504

Average Age: 51

Average Years at Current Company: 12

Average Length of Career in Years: 20

Average Hours Worked Per Week: 47

Average Number of Employees Supervised: 11

Primary Job Function: QA/QC (73%)

Average Company Size: 4,788 employees

Highest Level of Education: Bachelor’s Degree (40%)

Job Satisfaction: Moderate