California Occupational Guides

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Detailed Guide for

Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers, and Weighers in California

May also be called: Quality Assurance Inspectors; Quality Control Inspectors; Quality Control Technicians; Quality Control Testers; Quality Inspectors; Quality Technicians; Testing and Regulating Technicians

What Would I Do?

Quality is the goal of workers known as Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers, and Weighers. They monitor or audit quality standards for nearly all domestically manufactured products, including foods, textiles, clothing, glassware, motor vehicles, electronic components, computers, and structural steel. They work in all phases of production. They may inspect raw materials used to manufacture products. They test products at each step of production. They ensure that products leaving the plant meet quality standards.

The duties of Inspectors vary by industry, product, and stage of production. Some Inspectors use test equipment to verify correct product size or weight. Other Inspectors use their senses—sight, sound, touch, and smell—to identify defects such as scratches, color hue, and missing parts or features. In the food processing industry, workers may even test by tasting.

Testers repeatedly test products or prototypes under real-world conditions to determine how long a product will last, what parts will break first, and how to improve durability. Sorters may separate goods according to length, size, or fabric type. Samplers test or inspect a sample, taken from a batch or production run, for malfunctions or defects. Weighers weigh quantities of materials for use in production.

Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers, and Weighers use a wide range of equipment and software in their work. They may use tools, such as calipers, rulers, gauges, micrometers, and other measuring or testing equipment. They may also use computer-aided manufacturing, industrial control, scanning and analytical, or scientific software.

Important Tasks and Related Skills

Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.

View the skill definitions
TaskSkill Used in this Task
Discard or reject products, materials, and equipment not meeting specifications.Production and Processing
Analyze and interpret blueprints, data, manuals, and other materials to determine specifications, inspection and testing procedures, adjustment and certification methods, formulas, and measuring instruments required.Reading Comprehension
Inspect, test, or measure materials, products, installations, and work for conformance to specifications.Quality Control Analysis
Notify supervisors and other personnel of production problems, and assist in identifying and correcting these problems.Oral Expression
Discuss inspection results with those responsible for products, and recommend necessary corrective actions.Active Listening
Measure dimensions of products to verify conformance to specifications, using measuring instruments such as rulers, calipers, gauges, or micrometers.Near Vision
Analyze test data and make computations as necessary to determine test results.Mathematics
Collect or select samples for testing or for use as models.Flexibility of Closure
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

Working Conditions

Working conditions for Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers, and Weighers differ, depending on the industry and size of firm. Most work indoors in air-conditioned factories. Some are on their feet most of the day at a workstation. Others perform their work sitting. Heavy lifting may be involved, depending on the part or product being inspected. Some plants are noisy and gritty. Other plants must be clean and dust-free for manufacture of sensitive parts. Many manufacturing plants operate around the clock, so employees can expect to work evenings, nights, or weekends, as well as overtime when needed. As workers obtain seniority, they have more choice about shift assignments.

Union membership for Inspectors varies by industry. Most electrical and electronics workers belong to unions, such as the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Some workers in the aerospace industry are represented by unions like the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers or the United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America. Workers in food processing may join the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. UNITE HERE, formerly the Union of Needletrades Industrial and Textile Employees and Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union, represents workers in apparel manufacturing industries.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Inspector, Tester, Sorter, Sampler, and Weigher will appeal to those who enjoy activities that involve following set procedures and routines and working with data and details. Individuals who value management support and like following company policies and rules should enjoy this type of job.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?


The median wage in 2017 for Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, and Weighers in California was $38,889 annually, or $18.69 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2017Low
(25th percentile)
(50th percentile)
(75th percentile)
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2017 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas


Most employers offer benefit packages that include health and life insurance, vacation and sick leave, holidays, and a retirement plan.

What is the Job Outlook?

Employment of Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers, and Weighers is expected to remain stable in the coming years. Although the emphasis on quality control has increased, it has shifted from being the sole role of Inspectors, to being the job of all workers. This shift, as well as the increased use of automated inspection equipment, will negatively affect the need to hire new Inspectors.

The largest employment growth will be in the employment services industry as more manufacturers shift to lean manufacturing and turn to temporary help firms for these workers.

Projections of Employment

In California, the number of Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, and Weighers is expected to grow slower than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, and Weighers are expected to increase by 6.5 percent, or 3,500 jobs between 2014 and 2024.

Estimated Employment and Projected Growth
Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, and Weighers
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Additional Openings
Due to Net
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Projected Growth for All Areas

Annual Job Openings

In California, an average of 350 new job openings per year is expected for Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, and Weighers, plus an additional 1,350 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 1,690 job openings.

Estimated Average Annual Job Openings
Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, and Weighers
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-
Projected Year)
Jobs From GrowthJobs Due to
Net Replacements
Total Annual
Job Openings
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Data for All Areas

How Do I Qualify?

Education, Training, and Other Requirements

Requirements vary widely depending on the job duties and industry. A high school diploma and short-term on-the-job training may suffice for jobs of sorting and simple pass/fail testing. More complex testing and inspection jobs go to experienced production workers who receive in-house training.

In general, Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers, and Weighers need mechanical aptitude, math and communications skills, and good hand-eye coordination and vision. Another important skill is the ability to understand blueprints, data, manuals, and other material in order to know specifications, inspection procedures, formulas, and methods for making adjustments.

Early Career Planning

High school students interested in this type of work should take courses in mathematics, algebra, computers, science, mechanics, blueprint reading, and language arts.


Certification is not required for this occupation; however, the American Society for Quality offers a quality inspector certificate to certify that an individual is trained in the field. It may also help workers advance within the occupation. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.

Where Can I Find Training?

There are two ways to search for training information:

Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.

Where Would I Work?

More than two-thirds of Inspectors work in the manufacturing industry. The largest industries employing Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, and Weighers are as follows:

Industry TitlePercent of Total Employment for Occupation in California
Employment Services8.7%
Semiconductor and Electronic Components6.9%
Architectural and Engineering Services6.8%
Aerospace Product & Parts Manufacturing5.5%
Machine Shops and Threaded Products4.0%
Source: EDD/LMID Staffing Patterns

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers and union halls are effective job search methods. Browsing classified ads, Internet job listings, and trade publications can also be helpful. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Yellow Page Headings

You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, and Weighers.

  • Aircraft Equipment, Parts & Supplies
  • Electronic Instruments
  • Employee Leasing Services
  • Temporary Employment Agencies
  • Food Processing & Manufacturing
  • Machine Shops
  • Manufacturing Engineers
  • Semiconductor Devices

Find Possible Employers

To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:

  • Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
  • Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
  • Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
  • Contact the employer for possible employment.

Where Could This Job Lead?

Opportunities for advancement depend on the size of firm and industry. Higher pay may be the most common form of advancement. In larger firms, Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers, and Weighers may advance to supervisors or Inspectors of more intricate products, or transfer to jobs using similar skills and knowledge.

Related Occupations

Below is a list of occupations related to Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, and Weighers with links to more information.

Agricultural InspectorsProfile
Construction and Building InspectorsGuide
Fire Inspectors and InvestigatorsProfile
Occupational Health and Safety SpecialistsProfile
Occupational Health and Safety TechniciansProfile
Transportation InspectorsProfile

Other Sources

  • American Society for Quality
  • International Organization for Standardization

These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.

For the Career Professional

The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.

SOC - Standard Occupational Classification51-9061
O*NET - Occupational Information Network
   Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers, and Weighers51-9061.00
   Interest Codes (RIASEC)CRI
CIP - Classification of Instructional Programs
   Quality Control Technology/Technician 150702
TOP - Taxonomy of Programs (California Community Colleges)
   Industrial Quality Control095680