Some importers wonder how much a Chinese inspector costs to hire full time. The short answer is: More than you might think.
It’s more than just their salary, so in this post, I’ll explore the 5 types of people you might hire as an inspector, their pros and cons, approximate salaries, and then break down how to calculate their full cost to your business as a new hire.
So, you’re thinking of hiring a Chinese quality inspector?
There are five types of person who you could hire as a local quality inspector in China. Their experience will be the major influence on their monthly salary cost and their capability to do a good job quickly.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of each one* and the approximate expected salary to pay them. I’ve also listed them in the order that I prefer them:
1. The employee coming from a trading company –> 4-5k RMB a month
This person was a purchaser, salesperson, or merchandiser occupying an office role for a trading company, but often travelled to factories. At Sofeast we’ve had a great deal of success in converting this type of person into a quality inspector due to their prior experience of project managing the development and production of client products, certain legalities concerning manufacturing and importing/exporting, and, as mentioned, hands-on experience of being in factories and dealing with management and staff there.
- Can probably speak good English.
- Computer literate and can produce professional inspection reports quite quickly.
- Has a thorough knowledge of a product category having worked in that industry.
- Understands the “big picture” and can evolve later in the company.
- Decent starting cost.
- Needs training in QC procedures.
- May have high salary expectations in the mid-to-long run.
2. The inspector with factory experience –> 3-5k RMB a month
I think that this person would work very well with an ex-trading company inspector as a part of a QC team if you’re planning on building a team instead of hiring one individual.
The ideal candidate is young, still remembers the basics of English, and is willing to learn something new.
- Relatively low cost.
- Very motivated to “make it out of the factory.”
- Strong work ethic (especially women).
- Has a fairly long learning curve (she needs to be coached by an experienced inspector for several months until she can write a professional inspection report).
- May not speak great English.
3. The inspector with experience in a trading company –> 3-5k RMB a month
This person differs from profile one as she was specifically trained as a QC inspector by a trading company (or the buying office of an importer).
- Already has some prior QC experience.
- She is not used to gaming a system.
- Was usually managed closely by her manager.
- May not be able to read English specifications or write a report in English.
- Probably never had a clear procedure to do her job, therefore doesn’t have a good understanding of processes.
4. The inspector coming from the QC industry –> 5-8k RMB a month
This person’s experience speaks for itself as they have already worked as a QC inspector for a third party firm specialising in Quality Control.
- Ready to hit the ground running.
- Good at explaining general concepts about QC.
- Experience of producing reports.
- Speaks good English.
- Sometimes displays a “mercenary” attitude (doesn’t stay in the long run, and is not particularly trustworthy). Why?
Once they have a good resume (after working for 5 years for a famous company like SGS, for example), they know they will find a new job easily after you fire them. This doesn’t give them much incentive to work hard and to be honest. Regardless of how they leave, in China, very few employers conduct reference checks on their new hires, so their past performance is unlikely to influence them being hired.
- Higher salary cost.
- Could be slower to adapt to your principles and systems as they have many years of entrenched training and work to ‘forget.’
5. The fresh graduate –> 3k RMB a month
Sofeast hasn’t hired graduates like this, but I have heard good things from other companies that brought them in and trained them up.
- You are working with a blank slate and can train them to be the QC inspector that you require.
- Lower cost.
- Has a lot to prove so will hopefully work hard.
- Speaks at least reasonable English.
- This candidate will need heavy training and a mentorship program at the beginning. It will only work if the senior quality inspectors have a good mentality, respect their work, and set a good example. If they are a bad example, the graduate will also develop their poor habits.
- Won’t be independent for quite a long time.
- If they do leave too soon, the investment into training them could be lost.
*(Much of this information is from this post on quality inspector types).
The cost calculation to work out a Chinese inspector’s FULL cost to your business
Before delving into the numbers, we need to settle on an example individual that you’re ‘hiring’ and then look at their approximate total cost to hire.
Profile: the example in this article is for a professional QC inspector (inspector profile 4 from above) who can read/write English, who has 2-4 years of relevant experience, and who lives around Guangzhou or around Shanghai. It can get a bit cheaper in other provinces, but not by much. And an experienced engineer would be more expensive.
Travelling: the calculations below assume that all the factories are in the same city. If you purchase shoes and all are made in Dongguan, it is relevant. If you purchase across 4 provinces, the budget will be much higher.
Legal matters: a foreign company that recruits a Chinese employee is outside the law. It means you have two solutions if you want your own QC guy. Either you set up a company in China, or you pay a China-based company for a dedicated inspector. For more information, you can read China Employment Contracts. Ten Things To Consider on the China Law Blog.
So, let’s go ahead with the cost calculation that gives you a rough idea of Chinese inspector cost to your business on a monthly basis:
- Salary + housing + income tax + social insurance: 5,000 – 8,000 RMB per month
- Travel costs: 150 RMB per day
- Extra bonus (70 RMB per day worked)
- Internal audits (1 day out of 15, at a cost of 2,000 RMB each)
- Manager supervision (a 20th of a manager’s time, at 20,000 RMB per month)
- Total: 09,500 – 12,500 RMB per month, assuming 16 days of work per month.
(I left out some start-up costs, such as finding the right candidate or drafting a labor contract. And also the 13th month.)
10,500 RMB represents a total monthly cost of more than 1,500 USD.
Is that a lot?
Actually, I don’t think it is, if the inspector is honest, organized, and focused on every detail.
Even more about the cost of quality inspections in China
Interested in learning even more about how much quality inspections cost in China? Read that thorough post for my breakdown of inspection costs and what can affect them.
What is the 80/20 rule when it comes to QC in China? The answer is building a strong quality assurance policy of your own.
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