Status as a Certified Quality Engineer can increase your salary as much as $5,000!
Look at all the leading companies and notice the quality of their products and services explains their success. A case in point is the birth of Six Sigma at Motorola. This genesis came about an analysis of warranty claims in the 1980’s. They discovered reworked product had a higher likelihood of failing before the warranty expired. This was in stark contrast to those products manufactured right first time. They continued to perform beyond the warranty period. This stunning revelation fueled the drive to produce zero defects and the desire to achieve what came to be 6 sigma quality. The result was a renewed focus on quality and the need to engineer zero defects into their products and services. For Motorola it translated into public popularity, increased sales and profitability. Recently, Toyota automobiles experienced recalls driven by poor quality engineering. It had a major impact on safety, their reputation and profitability.
The Quality Engineer is an individual who understands how to control product and service quality. This includes the development and operation of quality control systems. Designing and implementing testing and inspection procedures. Using metrology and statistical methods to investigate and correct improper quality. An understanding of motivation and human factors. How to put in place cost of quality techniques. Installing quality information systems and auditing them for deficiencies.
In Canada and the United States, quality engineering is a discipline gained through on the job experience. It is also taught through continuing education at local colleges or universities. The basis for their curriculum is a body of knowledge developed by the American Society for Quality. To the best of my knowledge, no formal degree program exists in Canada or the United States. But, I have noticed graduate programs in quality have been popping up.
My own personal journey took me to the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester NY. There I obtained my graduate degree from the College of Engineering in Quality and Applied Statistics. This had an enormous impact on my career. I had the experience and knowledge to pioneer six sigma tools and methods in corporate Canada. Shortly thereafter I became the first ASQ certified six sigma black belt in Canada and first cohort in North America. This journey began when I became a certified quality engineer. It provided a platform upon which I gained my graduate degree. It opened a door into six sigma and thereafter my experiences resulted in recognition from ASQ as a fellow of the society.
The American Society for Quality (ASQ) defines certification as,
“… formal recognition by ASQ that an individual has proficiency within, and a comprehension of, a specified body of knowledge. It is peer recognition, not registration or licensure.”
ASQ has a long and prosperous tradition in quality engineering. Pioneers in the field of quality founded ASQ. They include Walter A. Shewhart, Mason E. Wescott, Ellis R. Ott, and John W. Tukey.
Becoming a Certified Quality Engineer provides peer recognition from the largest society promoting quality. Not only does the society have more than 85,000 members many of the leading corporations around the world endorse it. The latest salary survey from the American Society for Quality shows a full-time quality engineer, in Canada, earns on-average $64,633. But a Certified Quality Engineer earns $69,241 on average. This is an average increase of $4,607.
To become a Certified Quality Engineer, the applicant must meet several requirements. The applicant must have a total of eight years of on the job experience. At least 3 years must be in a decision-making position. If you graduated with a college diploma, bachelors or Masters Degree 2, 4, or 5 years may be waiver. In my case, I had four years of on the job quality experience as an engineer, supervisor and manager. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in engineering, thus four years where waived. I wrote the CQE exam in the early 1990’s and gained certification with ASQ.
The CQE exam consists of multiple-choice questions. The questions test an persons comprehension of the body of knowledge. The exam consists of 180 questions and the applicant has five hours to complete the exam. The exam is only offered in English. Examinations take place twice a year, in June and December, by local ASQ sections across Canada. The use of reference materials and calculators is allows but previous study exams are not.
The body of knowledge spans the following subject areas and topics shown in Table 1. Four out of the six subject areas have a technical focus and cover about 80% of the questions on the exam. There is an emphasis on product and process design, product and process control, continuous improvement, and quantitative methods. The complete CQE Body of Knowledge is available from ASQ. It goes into greater details versus levels of cognition, based on Bloom’s Taxonomy, for each of the topics describe in Table 1.
If you want to become a Certified Quality Engineer then go to ASQ.org and download an application. The cost to apply and write the exam varies as there is a cost for members and non-members. Once you submit your application you will need to choose your exam date. Make sure you have given yourself suitable time to prepare for the exam. You have one opportunity to reschedule your initial exam and have up to one year after your original date. In the event you wish to cancel your exam, you must notify ASQ no later than 6 business days before your exam. In each of the previous cases, you will receive a refund minus an administrative charge. In the event you miss your exam you will lose all fees and need to re-apply.
Many resources are available to assist you. Your local ASQ section will be able to guide you. Some applicants will choose a course of self-study. If you choose this route, the Quality Council of Indiana offers self-study material that will be of use. But this course of study requires focus and discipline or refresher courses are available. Look to your local ASQ section for a refresher course or consider online training from ASQ.
Writing the exam can be a daunting task. I have met many applicants that had the required knowledge but failed to get certification. The reason why they failed – they put enormous pressure upon themselves. My conversations with many applicants shows that they would enjoy the opportunity to take a practice exam. I created a free web-based CQE e-learning Practice Exams site for applicants. It helps you get a “feel” for what you might expect on the CQE exam. You can test your knowledge, grade your efforts and see which subject area requires more study. It can give you an enhanced level of confidence.
To register for the CQE e-learning Exam Site go to www.tkmg.org. Click on the Sign-Up button located under the User Login section. You will receive an email once you are a registered user. Once you become a registered user go to www.tkmg.org. In the User login section click on the Login button and enter your User Name and Password emailed to you during registration. Once logged in, you will gain access to the Member Site where you can take advantage of many CQE e-Learning Exams.