Everything About the ICQA Associate Job at Amazon

ICQA associate

The ICQA department in Amazon warehouses is charged with assessing the accuracy and quality of inventory. ICQA associates help execute this task.

ICQA stands for inventory control and quality assurance.

Common processes in the ICQA department include:

  • Count – counting items in bins to ensure that everything the inventory system thinks is there has actually been accounted for. Types of count include SRC, CC, SBC and IRDR.
  • Amnesty – amnesty are the people that walk on robotic floors and resolve issues with the robots.
An Amnesty associate.
  • Problem solve – ICQA problem solvers verify and fix issues identified with the inventory.
  • Damageland – this is where all damaged items in an Amazon facility are sent so that they can be returned to the vendor, sold at a discount or destroyed.

The ICQA department may have other functions (depending on the facility), such as:

  • Loss prevention
  • Vendor fraud investigation
  • Bin consolidation
  • Inbound support services (ISS)
  • Area organization

The most common counts done by ICQA are:

  • SRC: simple record count. Scan a specified product in a bin and count only similar items.
  • CC: cycle count. Scan each item in a bin using the scanner.
  • SBC: simple bin count. Count all items in a particular bin and input the number in a scanner.
  • IRDR: inventory record defect ratio. A special type of cycle count that requires a higher level of accuracy to ensure accurate DPMO (defects per million opportunities) numbers. A high level of accuracy (closer to 100%) is required in IRDR.

Common duties and responsibilities of an ICQA associate

  • Counting items in bins to make sure that all stowed items are accounted for.
  • Pick up items dropped on the AR floor (for Amnesty associates).
  • Identify and fix issues with robots on the AR floor (for Amnesty associates).
  • Inspect items to make sure there are no defects.
  • Investigating quality errors in other departments such as stow and pick.
  • Developing software tools such as dashboards needed by decision makers (for ICQA data analysts).

Tips for working in ICQA

Take your time. Prioritize quality over quantity while working as an ICQA associate. This is because errors in ICQA affect other departments’ work and customer shipments.

Pull andons when in doubt. This will minimize errors on your part and will help you understand your job better.

To break the monotony, you can listen to music or podcasts if your facility or managers allow it. However, make sure that you don’t lose concentration and make errors.

When doing SBC, make sure to take every item out of the bin to avoid errors since some items may be buried beneath other items.

In SBC, it is okay to make a mistake when counting the first time (as you take items out of the bin) as long as you count carefully the second (putting items back into the bin).

Try to always touch each item as you count to maintain focus and reduce errors.

Pay and benefits

ICQA associates on the warehouse floor earn the same amount as other entry-level employees at Amazon facilities (i.e., $15 minimum pay).

There is no pay increase when you get transferred to ICQA.

ICQA associates that work off the floor, e.g., ICQA data analysts and ICQA program developers may earn more.

ICQA data analysts earn more than their colleagues who work on the warehouse floor.

For higher positions in the department, the pay will be higher and will depend on the hierarchy level of the employee. For example, a T3 process assistant in ICQA gets at least $2 more than a T1 associate.

How to become an ICQA associate

ICQA is a support role and new hires don’t get to work in this department until they have gained some experience in their current paths.

There are are a few ways in which associates typically get into ICQA:

One of the ways you can get into ICQA is by being cross-trained in the department. This can happen if you request it or if an AM or PA asks you to do it.

You may also request to get transferred into ICQA through the A to Z app. An AM or PA may also transfer you into ICQA depending on the needs of the department.

If there are no opportunities to transfer, talk to your AM and the ICQA AM; they may be able to help you out.

Another way you can get into ICQA is by being labor-shared to the department. This happens when the ICQA department is short-staffed or your department is overstaffed.

Pros and cons for working in ICQA

ICQA is one of the most important departments in an Amazon facility but Amazonians love and hate it in equal measure. Generally, there are some benefits and drawbacks that come with working in ICQA.

ICQA pros

ICQA is one of the easiest (less physically demanding) jobs you can find in an Amazon facility, unlike other positions like packer or stower,.

Like other important positions, such as Learning Ambassador, working in ICQA is one of the best routes that associates can take to get promoted at Amazon warehouses.

Pressure to make rate is not as much as in other departments like stow or pick.

ICQA cons

ICQA work can be boring, repetitive and mind-numbing especially if you need mental stimulation to enjoy your work. It is not unusual for associates to do bin count work in an entire 12 hour shift.

Even though ICQA work is not physically intensive, it does involve a lot of standing, squatting, kneeling or climbing for long periods of time. This can lead to back pain and foot soreness.

Get a pair of comfortable work shoes to alleviate these problems. Also, take advantage of the Zappos at Work program where you get $110 to buy work shoes from Zappos.

You can easily get write ups for poor quality (i.e. making errors while counting).

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