Having a mentor is a great way to fast track your career. Taking advice from someone that has been in your shoes, learning from their success and their failures can help you move up the ladder quicker.
We were lucky enough to work with a great Quality Manager recently and place him with a large 1st tier automotive client.
He was very keen to help send the elevator back down so to speak. Here is what he had to say about moving from Quality Technician to Quality Engineer.
Fundamental activities, day to day.
There are a few fundamental activities that a Quality Technician must do day to day to help them move up to Quality Engineer, these include:
- Involvement in problem solving techniques, I try to promote Technician involvement in 8D methodology as much as possible. Having a good understanding of 5 Why, Ishikawa and 8D will help them structure problem solving activities in a robust and effective manner. These tools will be very important when investigating customer concerns.
- Good process and product understanding through auditing activities. The ability to audit well and understand processes and products in the manufacturing environment.
- Understanding of technical drawings, standards and specifications. It is important for a Technician to begin to understand the product and customer requirements.
- Get involved with measurement activities, being competent in using measurement tools to measure accurately. I promote Technician involvement in MSA / Gauge R&R activities for them to begin to understand repeatability and reproducibility.
- SPC (Statistical Process Control) involvement is beneficial for Technician’s to be able to understand how it can be used effectively in the manufacturing environment.
- Although I’ve touched on data driven tools already, familiarising themselves with data, data analysis and the presentation of data. The ability to analyse data effectively is very important when moving to a Quality Engineer. Data driven activities are key and will assist problem solving activities as well as continual improvement.
What courses / qualifications a quality technician should take to move up?
- I would always have said City & Guilds 7430 – Quality Assurance, however this course was ended a number of years ago. In which case, I would suggest CQI Level 3 Certificate from an educational / qualification view point. As for more specific courses:
- An ISO 9001 or ISO/TS 16949 internal auditor course.
- APQP courses, to provide a basic understanding of PPAP, FMEA and Control Plan to AIAG standard.
- SPC Training
- 8D Training
What attitude should a quality techician display if they want to get ahead in their career?
- A positive, confident, ‘can do’ attitude is required and a willingness to get involved with the activities mentioned above and a want to learn and develop is essential. Some Technicians are quite happy to ‘just’ do their job and there are many Technicians that do that very well but show no interest in developing their skills. The Technicians that want to learn are the ones that will, combined with good coaching and training will make the step up to Quality Engineer.
- Be proactive, don’t wait to be asked to get involved with Quality Engineer level activities, get involved whenever and wherever possible.
What skills / tools should they get under their belt to be able to move up?
- From experience of moving from a Quality Inspector / Technician level to Quality Engineer, I think the key skill required is confidence, particularly when customer facing. Good customer facing skills and how to deal with customers under pressure is in my opinion the key attribute required. A Technician will most likely not have a mass of experience in quality tools and techniques at that point in their career, but as long as they can go to a customer meeting, represent their company professionally and importantly where they cannot provide an ‘answer’ to a problem there and then, provide clear actions and timings and make it happen. I encourage Quality Technicians to visit customers with Quality Engineers, sit in meetings and gain valuable experience. It also engages the Technicians and definitely helps them feel involved when they are asked to visit customers. It is also an excellent opportunity for them to see the final product and see how other company’s work at shop floor level.
- Quality Technicians need to be able to work well under pressure if they are going to progress to Quality Engineer. The pressures are different in the role of Technician and Quality Engineer of course, but I find that I can identify the Technicians that are able to make the step up from their ability to manage their workload well and get the job done in a timely manner and to a high standard.
- Learn to work in a structured and organised manner, managing their time effectively with the ability to multi-task under pressure. The automotive industry can and will continue to be a pressured environment so Technicians must have the ability to manage this and when they cannot (it will happen), they need to learn to escalate quickly and effectively.
Some great advice from an established quality manager.
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