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Supplier Quality Engineer Duties and Responsibilities

Supplier quality engineers may work in a number of manufacturing-related industries and settings, but most share several core responsibilities:

Review and Assess Supplier Processes The primary duty of the supplier quality engineer is to review and assess manufacturing procedures, typically by visiting vendor facilities and observing their manufacturing environment. These visits may occur as part of the supplier selection process, or after the company has established a relationship with a vendor. They may also revisit supplier facilities to determine if requested changes have been incorporated.

Identify Quality Issues While conducting site visits and reviewing incoming products from vendors, supplier quality engineers also look for flaws and issues with quality. In this aspect of the role, the supplier quality engineer conducts tests and assessments on batches of products to identify recurring errors or quality issues. They may also send products back to suppliers if an entire batch is found to be defective.

Maintain Documentation and Reports Supplier quality engineers also maintain detailed reports related to supplier quality. These reports tend to contain vital information including defect rates and areas within the manufacturing process that result in flaws. In many cases, the supplier quality engineer prepares an initial report as the company decides whether to use a particular vendor. The supplier quality engineer frequently revises these reports to reflect changes in vendor processes.

Provide Technical Guidance and Assistance In many cases, supplier quality engineers also provide technical guidance and advice to suppliers and to decision-makers within their organizations. This guidance can range from advice on process enhancement to suggestions to overhaul production and manufacturing elements to reduce defect rates. In most cases, the supplier quality engineer works closely with the vendor to incorporate these recommendations.

Communicate Between Suppliers and Senior Management Supplier quality engineers also frequently serve as liaisons between their organizations' senior management and vendors. In this aspect of the role, the supplier quality engineer may meet with both parties to identify issues in supply quality and work toward a solution. Additionally, the supplier quality engineer may gather information from both parties to support the flow of information.


Supplier Quality Engineer Skills and Qualifications

Supplier quality engineers work with companies and vendors to enhance processes and resolve errors and other issues. Most workers in this role have a bachelor's degree in engineering, manufacturing experience, and the following skills:
  • Statistical analysis - supplier quality engineers need strong statistical analysis skills, and should be able to rigorously assess and analyze supplier or vendor data along with internal metrics
  • Technical skills and knowledge - this is a highly technical role, requiring thorough knowledge of technical elements of manufacturing and engineering, and the ability to identify flaws in processes or products
  • Quality assurance skills - experience with quality assurance is also a necessity in this role, as supplier quality engineers need to inspect products and manufacturing environments to identify potential issues
  • Manufacturing and engineering skills - supplier quality engineers should also be knowledgeable about manufacturing processes and engineering principles in order to make informed judgments and recommendations
  • Process enhancement - in this role, supplier quality engineers provide guidance on improving process efficiency while maintaining a high level of quality, safety, and reliability
  • Communication skills - supplier quality engineers also need excellent written and verbal communication skills to serve as liaisons between companies and suppliers and prepare quality assurance reports

Supplier Quality Engineer Education and Training

Generally, supplier quality engineers have at least a bachelor's degree in engineering. Additionally, most have several years of experience in a manufacturing environment. Supplier quality engineers can also enhance their career opportunities by obtaining certification through an organization such as the American Society for Quality (ASQ). There are some opportunities for on-the-job training in this role as supplier quality engineers learn best practices and techniques.

Supplier Quality Engineer Salary and Outlook

Both Glassdoor and PayScale have collected data related to supplier quality engineer salaries. Glassdoor found that workers in this role earned an average annual salary of $76,185 based on 825 user-submitted salaries, while PayScale found that supplier quality engineers earned a median annual salary of $71,830 based on 1,720 reported salaries. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide specific employment outlook data for supplier quality engineers, its findings indicate that supply-chain related roles will grow by seven percent between 2016 and 2026.

Helpful Resources

We searched the web and found several resources if you're interested in starting a career as a supplier quality engineer:

American Society for Quality (ASQ) - the ASQ is a professional organization for quality professionals, providing professional development, certification, and opportunities to connect with others in the field.

Supplier Quality: A Complete Guide by Gerardus Blokdyk - this book provides in-depth information on maintaining and managing supplier quality, including a rigorous self-assessment program to identify knowledge gaps and vulnerabilities.

"Best Practices in Supplier Quality Management" - read this blog post to learn about tracking and maintaining supplier quality, with advice on standardization, metrics, and auditing.

Supplier Evaluation & Performance Excellence by Sherry Gordon - find out how supplier quality relates to efficient and reliable supply chains, with examples of best practices in supplier evaluation and data gathering.

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