On Sunday, an English teacher living in China asked me how he could get involved in quality control. And more specifically how he could perform a few inspections as a freelancer, to earn more money.
This is really a case of supply-and-demand mismatch: inspection firms can’t hire as many foreign inspectors as they want (because they wouldn’t get visas for all these immigrants when the locals can do the job), and on the other hand many foreigners have proper visas and extra time on their hands but don’t know what to do.
I guess some other foreigners living here might be interested, so I might as well write something about it on this blog.
I have no magic trick to offer. Only a few ideas.
The best is to find an importer who has very particular needs (and is not satisfied with the standard services generally offered by the QC industry) and can take the time to train you. If he can rely on you, he will likely need your services as long as he buys from China!
You can read this blog to understand how inspections are usually performed. Be sure to have a look at How To Do QC Inspections By Yourself as a first step.
In that case, you have the choice about the way to get paid. The less risky is to ask for a fixed amount per day of work, with a variable part based on travel expenses (hint: aim somewhere between $200 and $400 per day).
Another option is get paid on commission if orders are large enough (say, 2% of total FOB amount), or a fixed fee (say, $1,000 per month for a few days of work on average).
You can also contact some quality control firms. They often feel the need to hire foreigners to audit their inspectors’ behavior. They might also like the idea of using a foreigner to supervise a bunch of inspectors during some sensitive jobs (e.g. a 100% check of a large quantity of products, or an inspection of a large order in a factory that is known for giving red envelopes a little too easily).
Quality control firms get paid by the number of days of work (man-days, as we say), so that’s how they might propose to pay you. They have probably access to plenty of Chinese freelancers, but not to many committed foreign freelancers. So don’t ask for 400 rmb per man-day + expenses–that’s what Chinese inspectors are usually paid. Start somewhere below 1,000 rmb to get trained at the beginning, with the understanding that fees will be higher down the road.
How to get these contacts?
Importers are not easy to approach. They are constantly solicited during their China buying trips, so getting their attention is not easy. However, many are looking for foreign inspectors. Ask around you, offer interpreter services to 5-star hotels, go to trade shows and give namecards…
Quality control companies are easy to find on Google, alibaba.com, or globalsources.com. Call them and ask to talk to a manager–the assistants won’t dare to say no if they think you are a buyer 😉
Oh, and why don’t you start by leaving your name and contact info in the comments, below this article?
Extra reading >> If you’d like to learn even more about QC, read our detailed Quality Control basic concepts post here.