Name: Elizabeth La Fuente
Company: Seven-Up/RC Bottling Co. of Southern California
Thumbs up: "The main reason I stay in quality control is I like the thought of having the authority, of being in control of the product, ensuring the integrity of the product for consumer protection. We have so many different products--from soft drinks to wine coolers to packaged water--that you're constantly learning something new. I'd say every week we're doing something different. A job like this could get monotonous, but not at this plant."
Thumbs down: "The long hours. You might have to work a 12-hour or a 10-hour shift. We might be (working) on a product that has to be (finished). And if you're the person taking care of that line, you can't go home when it's normally time to go home. Someone has to be there when the operation is running."
Next step: "The next step would be a supervisory position, whether in quality control or out on the production floor. Any advancement from there would probably be into upper management, such as superintendent or head of the production floor."
Advice: "A degree is what this company and similar companies are looking for. Get a food science degree or quality control degree. Study biology and chemistry. Also, having a detail orientation is a must; you're definitely going to be looking at detail. That's one of the main things required of you."
Salary range: Beginning wages vary from about $10 an hour to $16 an hour, depending on experience and training. Top salary is about $20 an hour.
Educational and training requirements: Because the tasks of quality control workers vary greatly by industry, so do the training requirements. Employers generally prefer applicants with college training, including specialized courses related to the job.
Size of work force: Very large. In Orange County, about 9,500 people, or 0.8% of the labor force, work as quality control technicians and inspectors, including building inspectors.
Expected demand: Most demand will come from job turnover, so it is expected to remain about the same in Orange County.
Job description: Inspect manufactured products and the manufacturing processes to ensure that standards and contract specifications are being maintained. Some quality control inspectors work in the field, such as in construction. Other inspectors, such as in the food industry, work in laboratories to measure for proper contents and to check for impurities.
Major employing industries: Electronics and other manufacturers, construction companies, food processors, state, local and federal governments.
For more information: Call the American Society for Quality Control in Milwaukee at (414) 272-8575. Or call the Institute of Food Technologists in Chicago at (312) 782-8424.