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Jobs Outlook: Inspectors, Testers, Sorters,Samplers, and Weighers




Like that of many other occupations concentrated in manufacturing industries, employment of inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers is expected to grow more slowly than average through the year 2012. The slower than average growth stems primarily from the growing use of automated inspection and the redistribution of quality-control responsibilities from inspectors to production workers. Numerous job openings also will arise due to turnover in this large occupation. Many of these jobs, however, will be open only to experienced production workers with advanced skills.

Employment of inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers will be positively affected by the increased focus on quality in American industry. The emphasis on improving quality and productivity has led manufacturers to invest in automated inspection equipment, hire more inspectors, and to take a more systematic approach to quality inspection. Continued improvements in technologies, such as spectrophotometers and computer-assisted visual inspection systems, allow firms to effectively automate simple inspection tasks, increasing worker productivity and reducing the demand for inspectors.

Inspectors will continue to operate these automated machines and monitor the defects they detect. The increased emphasis on quality has increased the importance of inspection and the demand for inspectors. These two trends—increased emphasis on inspection and increased automation of inspection—have had opposite effects on the demand for inspectors.

Apart from automation, firms are integrating quality control into the production process. Many inspection duties are being redistributed from inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers to other production workers who monitor quality at every stage of the process. In addition, the growing implementation of statistical process control is resulting in “smarter” inspection. Using this system, firms survey the sources and incidence of defects so that they can better focus their efforts on reducing production of defective products.

In many industries, however, automation is not being aggressively pursued as an alternative to manual inspection. Where key inspection elements are oriented toward size, such as length, width, or thickness, automation may play some role in the future. But where taste, smell, texture, appearance, fabric complexity, or product performance is important, inspection will probably continue to be done by workers. Employment of >Inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers is expected to increase in the rapidly growing employment services industry, as more manufacturers and industrial firms hire temporary inspectors to increase the flexibility of their staffing strategies.