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Quality Assurance & Inspection Jobs


This group includes all classes of positions, the duties of which are to advise on, supervise, or perform administrative or technical work primarily concerned with the quality assurance or inspection of material, facilities, and processes; or with the grading of commodities under official standards.

There were 12,338 employed in this group including 325 that work overseas. All Executive Branch departments, except for the Department of Labor, employ workers in this group. A few large independent agencies such as NASA also have quality assurance and inspection employees. The largest employer is the  Department of Defense with 4,259 followed by the Department of Agriculture with 3,001 employed.

The following information is compiled from numerous federal documents including qualification standards, job announcements, career articles, occupation flysheets, FEDSCOPE, OPM, Agency websites, interviews with federal employees, The United States Government Manual, and from the Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook.


GS-1900 Quality Assurance & Inspection Menu

GS-1900 Job Listings

Job Listings Click the job title for job listings, the number employed, hiring agencies, and job series definitions.

Review the job vacancy announcements and Qualification Standards for the job you are interested in.

Job Series Definitions

These position descriptions are excerpted from the qualification standards for each job title in this group. In the General Schedule position classification system is established under chapter 51 of title 5, United States Code. The term “General Schedule” or “GS” denotes the major position classification system and pay structure for white collar work in the Federal government. Agencies that are no longer subject to chapter 51 have replaced the GS pay plan indicator with agency-unique pay plan indicators. For example, the Bureau of Prisons uses GL instead of the GS designation. For this reason, reference to General Schedule or GS is often omitted from the individual qualification standard sheets.

A brief introduction for major occupations within this group is provided below.

Quality Assurance GS-1910

This series includes all positions the duties of which are to perform, administer, or advise on work concerned with assuring the quality of products acquired and used by the Federal Government. The work of this series involves: (1) the development of plans and programs for achieving and maintaining product quality throughout the item’s life cycle; (2) monitoring operations to prevent the production of defects and to verify adherence to quality plans and requirements; and (3) analysis and investigation of adverse quality trends or conditions and initiation of corrective action. The duties of these positions require analytical ability combined with knowledge and application of assurance principles and techniques, and knowledge of pertinent product characteristics and the associated manufacturing processes and techniques.

The federal government employs 9,346 quality assurance specialists of which 322 work overseas. The Departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force employ 4,531 combined followed by the Department of Defense with 4,244 and NASA with 107. All cabinet level agencies, except The Department of Labor, and a few small agencies employ quality assurance specialists.

Job Series Titles: (The USAJOBS selection lists all federal job vacancies for this job series.)

Quality assurance specialists utilize a variety of administrative, analytical, and technical methods and techniques to ensure the quality and reliability of products. The scope of the activities involved in the various quality assurance functional programs is discussed in detail under the section titled Occupational Information. While not all quality assurance positions may be concerned with the entire range of activities described for each functional program, they are concerned with a variety of systematic activities designed to prevent defective or nonconforming products and to assure that these products are acceptable and perform as intended.

Inspection, by physical test or measurement of the product, is but one of the techniques applied by quality assurance specialists. In the context of quality assurance work, tests and measurements at various points in the production cycle: provide objective evidence as to the effectiveness of quality procedures and controls; identify potential problem areas or inherent weaknesses in the product itself, the technical data, materials, or manufacturing processes; and serve as a basis for adjusting surveillance or control over operations.

Quality assurance specialists apply their knowledge and skills to programs which may be categorized in terms of the f functional activities or agency missions they support. The major characteristics of these quality programs and the principal techniques and procedures employed to assure product quality are discussed below. Some highly specialized areas or commodities may combine elements of more than one of the following programs. For example, quality work concerned with ammunition items may involve functions which are characteristic of supply quality assurance insofar as depot or storage functions are concerned along with functions typical of maintenance quality programs.

Agricultural Commodity Grading GS-1980

Agricultural Commodity Graders administer, supervise, or perform work concerned with examining and evaluating agricultural products to determine their official U.S. grade and/or their acceptability in terms of quality or condition in accordance with official standards and related regulations. The work often includes the inspection or monitoring of the conditions under which the product is processed, stored, or transported insofar as these factors affect product quality.

The federal government employs 1,579 agricultural commodity graders of which 3 work overseas. All are employed by the Department of Agriculture.

Job Series Titles: (The USAJOBS selection lists all federal job vacancies for this job series.)

  • USAJOBS GS-1980 (Federal Job Lists)
    • Agricultural Commodity Grader
    • Food Inspector

Commodity grading is one of several Federal Government services made available to buyers and sellers within the various agricultural marketing systems. Like other agricultural marketing services, such as market news reporting, the general purpose of commodity grading is to facilitate the orderly marketing and distribution of food and farm products. Agricultural commodity grading and inspection services are designed to establish and certify the quality and/or condition of a product within the marketing channels. These services are available to anyone having a financial interest in the product, typically growers, processors, wholesalers, or retailers. With these grading services available, traders are able to deal with greater confidence, even from distant points, without having to personally inspect each commodity lot.

Commodity grading and inspection system s differ from commodity to commodity because of wide variations in the nature of the products, production and processing methods, and marketing practices for each commodity. Separate programs and organizational entities to manage them have been established for each commodity group (e.g., grain, tobacco, cotton, dairy products, etc.). Therefore, commodity graders specialize along commodity group lines. Their work varies according to the commodity graded and the types of Federal grading services made available to that commodity market.

Agricultural commodity graders apply a thorough knowledge of the quality characteristics and grading standards for products in a commodity group. This knowledge is reinforced by familiarity with the production methods and marketing practices pertaining to these products. Many graders apply a thorough knowledge of the processing, packing, packaging, storage, and transportation methods and wholesomeness requirements related to the products being graded and inspected. In many cases, graders must determine if products meet the provisions of contracts in addition to grading the product.

Agricultural Commodity Aide GS-1981

Specialized Experience for positions at GS-4 and above:

Experience that provided a broad knowledge of industrial methods, procedures, materials, machinery, or facilities used in a production, processing, or transportation-related operations. This experience must have provided a base of knowledge for the on-the-job development of skills in applying the specific sampling and inspecting techniques and for learning a variety of procedures, practices, and safety requirements involved in handling, storing, and transporting the applicable commodity (e.g.,) grain and grain products or fruit and vegetable products).

The federal government employs 1,197 agricultural commodity aides. All are employed by the Department of Agriculture.

Examples of qualifying specialized experience include:

  • Industrial activities such as quality control, inspection, production, storage, and transportation that demonstrated a knowledge of the flow of work or a knowledge of the relationships of various functions in the facility.
  • Aiding in the inspection of the applicable commodity.
  • Food products laboratory or quality control work.
  • Experience that shows knowledge of the industry procedures within the applicable commodity, e.g., grain weighing and handling procedures for Grain Commodity positions, or food processing operations in a modern establishment for Fruit and Vegetable Commodity positions.


Education and Training:

  • For GS-3: Successful completion of 1 academic year of study above high school.
  • For GS-4: Successful completion of 2 academic years of study above high school.
  • For GS-5: Successful completion of a full 4-year course of study leading to a bachelor’s degree.

Job Series Titles: (The USAJOBS selection lists all federal job vacancies for this job series.)