Despite Flat Salaries, Most Quality Professionals OK with Compensation

For the second time in three years, salaries in 2014 decreased slightly for quality professionals, who said their organization’s quality culture plays a key role in the overall satisfaction of their job and salary, according to Quality Progress magazine’s 28th annual Salary Survey.

In 2014, salaries decreased a meager $183 for quality professionals in the United States, from an average $88,606 in 2013 to $88,423 this year. In 2013, salaries increased 2 percent, after declining slightly in 2012. Among the highest-paying job titles in the U.S. are vice president/executive who make an average of $163,741, directors who make $125,033 and Master Black Belts who average $122,714 in 2014.

While more than one-quarter of respondents say they are dissatisfied with their pay, 70 percent of quality professionals in organizations that promote quality through top management are satisfied with their salary, and more than 80 percent in these organizations are satisfied with their jobs, according to the survey.

Salary Survey results were featured in the December issue of Quality Progress magazine, the flagship publication of ASQ — the leading global authority on quality in all fields, organizations and industries. “It’s encouraging that most quality professionals are satisfied with their jobs and their pay despite flat salaries,” said ASQ CEO William Troy. “While salary is an essential component to satisfaction, the survey results show that other benefits play a key role in a quality professional’s happiness.”

Unchanged salaries lead to dissatisfaction for some

Responses to the survey show quality professionals are used to getting salary increases. But flat salaries in recent years have left 28.3 percent of respondents unhappy with their salaries. While 61 percent are pleased, nearly 11 percent of respondents were neutral or noncommittal, according to the survey. Of those unhappy with their salaries, some blamed the economy, which still does not seem to allow organizations the luxury of offering raises. Others blamed the lack of value their organization places on quality and those who safeguard it. Many of those unhappy say they have gone more than three years since getting a raise, the results show. Those who claim their salary is directly related to their organization’s value of quality said they believe it is a function of an organization’s culture of quality.

Salary satisfaction tied to culture

While 61 percent of all respondents are happy with their salary, there are organizational approaches to quality that boost salary — and job — satisfaction. In fact, nearly 64 percent of respondents say they are happy with their salary at organizations that value ASQ certifications, and pay employees for earning them. At these organizations, 71 percent are happy with their job. In organizations that do not pay for quality-related training or do not use a quality system or methodology, far fewer employees are happy with their salaries and jobs overall.

According to the survey, only 46.8 percent of respondents say they are happy with their salaries at organizations that do not pay for training, and 53.5 percent are happy with their job. Only 47 percent of respondents say they are happy with their salaries at organizations that do not use a quality system or methodology.  The survey results show that despite a decline in the average salary, a career in quality can be fulfilling at organizations that value quality and take action to create a successful and sustainable culture of quality.

(Earlier this year, ASQ partnered with Forbes Insights to explore culture of quality and the essential components of a successful culture. The resulting white paper, titled “Culture of Quality: Accelerating Growth and Performance in the Enterprise,” is available at

QP’s salary survey demonstrates year-after-year that it pays to get Six Sigma training. In the U.S., respondents who complete at least one Six Sigma training program earn $97,586 compared to $80,553 for those who have not completed any training — a difference of $17,033. Full-time employees in the U.S. who have completed Six Sigma Green Belt training make $8,824 more than those without training, those with Black Belt training make $20,000 more than those with no training, and those with Master Black Belt training earn almost $46,000 more. Respondents with Master Black Belt training make an average $126,311 in 2014, up from $124,661 in 2013 and $119,335 in 2012, according to the Salary Survey.

Experience results in higher salaries

The amount of experience plays a role in salaries. The more experience, the higher the salary. In the U.S., respondents with more than 20 years’ experience in the quality field averaged $103,796 in 2014, according to the survey. In 2013, U.S. quality professionals with more than 20 years’ experience earned $101,189. On the other hand, respondents with less than a year of experience in 2014 earn an average of $62,433, down from $64,874 in 2013.

The QP Salary Survey was completed by nearly 7,000 quality professionals from a broad range of industries and market sectors, a response rate of 11.4 percent. Regular, full-time employees made up 94.6 percent of the respondents.

These data only substantiate that when people are valued in a culture their satisfaction is greater. People Driven Performance utilizes technology to reinforce and communication a culture of quality and rigor on the manufacturing plant floor. Fully engaged employees stay on the job because they experience personal satisfaction at the workplace which can trump incremental wage increases.

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