Quality Professionals’ Salaries, Job Satisfaction on the Rise, ASQ Survey Says

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Quality professionals' pay increased 2.78 percent in 2015, the largest percentage increase since 2007, according to the ASQ Quality Progress Salary Survey.

The average salary for a full-time quality professional in the U.S. is nearly $91,000 a year, according to the survey.

The ASQ Quality Progress Salary Survey shows quality professionals' salaries are up in 2015.

Quality professionals continue to play a key role in the organizations they serve and the increase in average pay shows that companies value the work they perform.

After some dips and swells in recent years between salary increases and decreases, salaries for quality professionals are up again, this time with the largest percentage increase year-over-year since 2007, according to Quality Progress magazine’s 29th annual Salary Survey.

In 2015, salaries increased 2.78 percent to an average of $90,878 for full-time quality professionals in the United States. In 2014, when salaries dipped slightly from 2013, the average salary was $88,423. In Canada, the increase was more significant: Quality professionals there made $89,140 in 2015, compared to $82,388 in 2014. (All Canadian figures are noted in Canadian dollars.)

In 2015, the highest paid quality professionals in the U.S. by job title include vice president/executive, who make an average of $165,299, directors, who make $130,791 and Master Black Belts, who average $127,875. Quality professionals represent diverse backgrounds such as engineers, auditors, project managers, among others.

But while the average pay increased notably in 2015, nearly 35 percent of respondents are dissatisfied with their salary, up from 28 percent in 2014. Despite that, nearly 74 percent of respondents are satisfied with their jobs, according to the survey, up from 69.8 percent in 2014.

Salary Survey results are featured in the December issue of Quality Progress magazine, the flagship publication of ASQ— the leading global authority on quality in all fields, organizations and industries.

“Quality professionals continue to play a key role in the organizations they serve and the increase in average pay shows that companies value the work they perform,” said ASQ Chair Cecilia Kimberlin. “Despite the increase in salaries, not all quality professionals are happy with their pay. They often look to other perks, like opportunities for training and certifications, to boost their careers and enhance their organization’s quality.”

Salary satisfaction, paid quality training related
According to the survey data, there are disparities among workers whose employer values — and pays for — training and certification opportunities.

In fact, of those who are satisfied with their salary, 62.4 percent say their employer pays the cost of ASQ certification and 62.2 percent say their ASQ certifications enhance their value in the eyes of their employer.

Of those dissatisfied with their salaries, 43.4 percent say their company does not pay for ASQ certifications, and 43.5 percent say they don’t believe their employer sees the value of ASQ certifications.

And while only 59.4 percent of respondents are satisfied with their salary, nearly 75 percent of respondents are happy with their job in general. Of those, nearly 80 percent work for organizations that pay for ASQ certifications, and believes holding an ASQ certification enhances their value in their employers’ eyes.

Furthermore, 40.9 percent of those not satisfied with their salary say their company has no quality system or method, meanwhile 54.1 percent of those happy with their salary say the same.

Certifications increase earnings
Not surprisingly, respondents who hold ASQ certifications earn more than their counterparts with no certifications, but unlike years past, the more certifications held doesn’t necessarily mean more pay.

According to the data, 42 percent of respondents with no certifications earn an average of $87,015, while the 34.3 percent with one certification earn $89,533 and those with two, 13.2 percent, earn $97,369. And while the 6 percent with three certifications still earn more — an average of $102,243 — pay for those with four certifications drops slightly to $100,996, and even more for respondents with five certifications to $99,327. The number of respondents with four certifications drops to 2.8 percent, while those with five certifications drops to 0.9 percent.

Pay again increases to an average of $115,024 for the few respondents — 0.8 percent — with six or more certifications.

  •     Managers with a reliability engineer certification earn an average of $25,390 more than their noncertified counterparts.
  •     Project engineers who obtain a manager of quality/organizational excellence certification make an average of $105,332 — $23,285 more than project engineers without the same certification.
  •     Auditors who hold a Six Sigma black belt certification earn an average of $16,594 more than auditors without certification.

Furthermore, QP’s salary survey demonstrates year-after-year that it pays to get Six Sigma training.

In the U.S., full-time workers who complete at least one Six Sigma training program earn $99,943 compared to $82,238 for those who have not completed any training — a difference of $17,705. Canadian recipients with Six Sigma training make an average of $9,490 more than their counterparts with no Six Sigma training.

Respondents who have completed Six Sigma Green Belt training make $9,651 more than those without training, those with Black Belt training make $21,685 more than those with no training, and those with Master Black Belt training earn $46,745 more.

Respondents with Master Black Belt training make an average $128,983 in 2015, up from $126,311 in 2014 and $124,661 in 2013, according to the Salary Survey.

Experience results in higher salaries
Like certifications, those with more years of experience earn more than those with fewer years.

Among full-time respondents in the United States, those with 20 or more years of experience in the quality field average $106,300 in 2015, up from $103,796 in 2014, according to the research.

On the other hand, respondents with less than a year of experience in 2015 earn an average of $61,447, down from $62,433 in 2014, and down from $64,874 in 2013.

Among Canadian respondents, the gap widens. Quality professionals with more than 20 years’ experience average salaries of $104,496, whereas those with less than one year experience average $56,444.

The QP Salary Survey was completed by more than 8,500 quality professionals from a broad range of industries and market sectors, with a response rate of 16 percent. Regular, full-time employees made up 96.1 percent of the respondents. Self-employed consultants, part-time employees and unemployed, retired or laid off workers also were surveyed.

For 29 years, Quality Progress has released its annual Salary Survey, an indicator of the health of the quality profession using survey results. The survey breaks down salary information, submitted by ASQ members, in 30 sections and sorts results by job title, education, years of experience, and geographic location.

In addition to the survey, Quality Progress magazine has updated its salary calculator reflecting 2015 data. The calculator, which is available to ASQ members, allows users to pinpoint salaries based on several different variables.

This year’s QP Salary Survey is sponsored by Novo Nordisk.

ASQ members can view the entire QP Salary Survey results by visiting qualityprogress.com/salarysurvey. During December, a portion of the report will be available through QP’s digital edition, which can be accessed at qualityprogress.com.

About ASQ
ASQ is a global community of people dedicated to quality who share the ideas and tools that make our world work better. With millions of individual and organizational members of the community in 150 countries, ASQ has the reputation and reach to bring together the diverse quality champions who are transforming the world’s corporations, organizations and communities to meet tomorrow’s critical challenges. ASQ is headquartered in Milwaukee, Wis., with national service centers in China, India, Mexico and a regional service center in the United Arab Emirates. Learn more about ASQ’s members, mission, technologies and training at asq.org.

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Kevin Braley
American Society for Quality
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Kevin Braley
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