Career Change - Machinist to Quality

C

CT2CA

#1
Hello Forum Members! I'm new here and I probably have 100's of questions on the topic of my thread, but I'll just ask a few for now and see where it leads.

I'm in my early 40's and have been working in manufacturing since I graduated high school. I started in Quality Control and inspection but most of my experience through the years has been related to machining. Some of my job titles have been Tool & Die Maker, Mold Maker, CNC Machinist, etc.

I hold a Journeyman's Tool & Die Certificate (2004) and a B.S. Business Administration (since 2011, which I haven't really used).

In my current job, even though I have a machinist related job title, I have done much work in inspection, calibration, and I have been an ISO Internal Auditor for 2 years.

I don't think going from what I have done to what I want to do is a 180 degree career change, but I am looking to change direction toward quality and away from machining.

I really like the internal auditing I have been doing, but it is something I do on the side. One possibility I have considered is being an auditor full time, but there is no chance of a full time job in anything to do with quality in my current company.

Now that I have given some background information, would any members have advice on how I can change direction? How can I highlight quality skills on my resume when all of my job titles for at least 15 years have been machinist/ toolmaker related? I'm afraid that when HR notices my job titles when applying for quality jobs they may read no further.

I would especially like to hear from former machinists or production workers who have made the transfer to a full time Quality Professional.
 
Elsmar Forum Sponsor
#2
Hello CT2CA, and welcome to the Cove :bigwave:

I don't know if this really answers your question, but if you look at this very short version of my background, you will notice similarities. I have gone from Assembly (after school and military service) to QA and Management systems in general.

To be honest, I don't quite know how this happened, but I can tell you that both my time in the service and my first job after it sparked my interest: Suffice to say that there were issues, and that I soon realized that there had to be better ways to run a business. I found that I wanted to improve things, and once I "saw the light", I started voicing opinions, and suggesting changes. After a while I suppose some people in QA noticed, and asked me to move over to inspection (thereby pulling some teeth from assembly and adding some to their own arsenal :D ), which I did, ending up working mainly with Initial Samples.

Soon, I saw the light again, when I noticed that I was rejecting a very high percentage of the samples, and decided that I wanted to prevent problems, rather than detect them at that late stage.

The same thing happened again: I got the opportunity to get into QA proper, and went for it. I have never looked back, and today Environment, Energy and H&S have been added to the mix.
 

Ajit Basrur

Staff member
Admin
#3
Welcome to the Cove, CT2CA :bigwave:

Great question and a great answer from Claes and am sure that you will get more responses.

Firstly, your choice of going into quality is the most appropriate one. From a FDA regulated background, I have always sought advice from machinists when it comes to Customer Complaints and Corrective and Preventive Actions, besides many other aspects of the quality system elements.

Having a hands-on approach is very beneficial to understand the root cause and this is where the value comes from. In one of my past jobs, my organization had a mandatory job rotation between Production and Quality to understand the issues and challenges facing each other.

You mentioned about Internal Audits too ... so all in all, I am sure that you will have a great quality profile. All the very best to you :agree1:
 
T

tamale

#4
Hello CT2CA,

Sounds just like my own resume.

I was a pressman all of my career until the floor gave way under the printing industry.

I was employed by the now defunct Worldcolor, at the time the largest printing company in the world with 160 locations. I made the switch to quality in the 90's when ISO standards became popular.

With the rapid decline of the print industry I found it difficult to find a job in quality outside of printing because I lacked the required letters of nobility (read B.S. Business) so went back to school at nights and got that.

I am doing well now and if there is any recommendation I can make to you is to make a career change while staying in the scope of your machinists experience. Look at the industry served and supplied by machining and you will find ample opportunities from companies wanting to cash in on someone with business training that's backed up with years of practical experience.

Good on you!

Tamale
 
P

PaulJSmith

#5
Welcome to The Cove, CT2CA!

All good responses here so far. There is a treasure trove of information to be mined here.

I moved into Quality from manufacturing back in the '90s in pretty much the same manner as Claes ... I was the proverbial squeaky wheel.

One thing you might consider, if moving on is an option, is to arrange your resume to highlight your skills and experiences, rather than just the standard list of employers and job titles. I know of at least one recruiter (used by my wife) who prefers that style, and have used it myself. It's always a conversation starter at the very least.

Good luck.
 

Michael_M

Trusted Information Resource
#6
I took a slightly different path but followed the same road. Three (or four) years ago I was the swing shift supervisor on the machine shop floor (keeping the machines running, programming, setups, etc). I was constantly given the "as you have time, figure out the best way to measure this" type of tasks because I was really good at it (and making the appropriate fixtures that follow). When the Quality Manager position opened up, I submitted my application and was given the job. The first couple of weeks (months/years?) I had to 'learn' a lot of new concepts that were ever only hinted at while I was on the shop floor. Be willing the unlearn what you think you know in some cases.


The best advice I can give is to find a company (since you indicated there are no openings in your current) that parallels your experience. The company I work for is a machine shop and since I have experience in machining (getting to supervisor position) I can use that knowledge in parallel with quality requirements.
 

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
#7
Hello Forum Members! I'm new here and I probably have 100's of questions on the topic of my thread, but I'll just ask a few for now and see where it leads.

I'm in my early 40's and have been working in manufacturing since I graduated high school. I started in Quality Control and inspection but most of my experience through the years has been related to machining. Some of my job titles have been Tool & Die Maker, Mold Maker, CNC Machinist, etc.

I hold a Journeyman's Tool & Die Certificate (2004) and a B.S. Business Administration (since 2011, which I haven't really used).

In my current job, even though I have a machinist related job title, I have done much work in inspection, calibration, and I have been an ISO Internal Auditor for 2 years.

I don't think going from what I have done to what I want to do is a 180 degree career change, but I am looking to change direction toward quality and away from machining.

I really like the internal auditing I have been doing, but it is something I do on the side. One possibility I have considered is being an auditor full time, but there is no chance of a full time job in anything to do with quality in my current company.

Now that I have given some background information, would any members have advice on how I can change direction? How can I highlight quality skills on my resume when all of my job titles for at least 15 years have been machinist/ toolmaker related? I'm afraid that when HR notices my job titles when applying for quality jobs they may read no further.

I would especially like to hear from former machinists or production workers who have made the transfer to a full time Quality Professional.
Welcome to the Cove:bigwave:

A few months ago I wrote about how a candidate should position himself to be more efficient in the job hunt and a tool to use, called a SAM (Skills Assessment Matrix), to align the candidate's skills with the needs of a prospective employer.

So, for the template of what a prospective employer would want/need in a quality professional, I suggest you look at the ASQ Body of Knowledge for a Quality Manager from (Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence - CMQ/OE) My point being that since you have gone to the time, trouble and effort of obtaining a BA in Business, you should also leverage that in your quest for a career in the quality profession. It is NOT NECESSARY at this point that you try to get a certification before you start building your SAM. Based on what you've written here, your combination of work experience and your academic degree probably equip you to be at least conversant with most of the factors in the ASQ BOK. Your SAM will tell you which factors you are able to emphasize in convincing a prospective employer you have VALUE (over and above what you expect in pay) to his organization.

Don't expect to start at Quality Manager, but some small organizations may hire you as just that without any certification based on the skills and knowledge you already have.

For the last ten years, I've been writing extensively here in the Cove on efficient and effective ways to get a new job. You might start with this thread and follow it where it leads you: Wes Bucey Job Threads
 

normzone

Trusted Information Resource
#9
I came here to post only to find that it's all been said already. It sounds as though you've already paid some dues doing inspection, so you can check that off, although it will recur periodically.

Auditing full time can be difficult to get into, and the pay depends on the payer.

The management trail is a good path to learn on and allows you to make a difference in the right scenario.

As regards wheels and squeaking, in my case it was "if you're going to ask so many questions...".
 
C

CT2CA

#10
Thank you for responses and encouragement :bigwave:
I'm glad to see some of you started in the same situation as my current one and then moved on to quality.

I don't mind being a machinist, but I don't actually love it and I can see myself doing more. Machining is not something I want to do until I retire. Also, I would like to make use of some of the experience from my degree and not let it go to waste.

PaulJSmith:
Are you suggesting I use a functional or combination resume? I thought of that and have read that it is suggested for those making a major career change. Would you consider my goal to be a enough of a career change? I would consider a major career change to be: machinist to an accountant or machinist to a nurse, etc. Does anyone have thoughts on this?

Wes Bucey:
Thank you so much for your advice. I had actually only looked at the BOK for the CQA and CQE. I never thought of the CMQ/OE. After looking at it, almost everything in the BOK was familiar to me from my business studies. It's been a few years already so I've forgotten some things, but the BOK gives me an outline of things I can review. I may look at CMQ/OE as a goal.

There's one other thing that I have not brought up yet that I would like some advice on when I'm ready to type up a resume. This may belong in a separate thread, but I'll ask it here first:

On the side, the last few years I have been working on an unrelated Master of Arts Degree in Humanities. Honestly, it is just something I'm doing for fun and my own satisfaction because I like to read literature, philosophy, etc. I never had any specific career goals with this. Would it be proper to add this to my resume or should I leave it out since it is not directly related to quality. All I have left to do is finish my thesis and I hope to graduate in May 2015. :confused:
 
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