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Air Quality Engineer: Job Description & Salary

Air quality engineers play a vital role in ensuring that the air is safe to breathe. This article looks at their typical tasks, how their roles can vary based on their employer and the salary expectations for air quality engineers.

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Career Definition of an Air Quality Engineer

Air quality engineers work to ensure that air quality is maintained. Their responsibilities may include performing tests on the air to identify dangerous amounts of toxins or hazardous materials. When air quality is poor they may recommend or employ strategies to improve it. Air quality engineers may also concentrate on producing equipment that is designed to reduce air pollution.

In order to do their job effectively, air quality engineers must know the applicable government regulations that need to be followed and the expected air quality standards for the environment they're testing. Some engineers work for the government and are responsible for such tasks as testing emissions and determining if an organization is in compliance with regulations. Other engineers work for companies that help ensure a business' products or procedures comply with regulation guidelines. They may also be involved in selling these services to customers.

Educational Requirements Bachelor's degree
Job Skills Creativity, communication skills, interpersonal skills, attention to detail, problem-solving skills, organizational skills, analytical skills
Median Salary (2018)* $66,714
Job Outlook (2016-2026)** 8% (all environmental engineers)

Sources: *PayScale.com; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Employers expect air quality engineers to have a bachelor's degree. It's common for individuals interested in this career option to study environmental engineering. Practical experience can help graduates entering this field acquire jobs, so students considering a career as an air quality engineer may want to complete internships or cooperative programs. Engineers who wish to advance to leadership roles may want to earn a master's degree and obtain their Professional Engineer (PE) license.

Required Skills

Being an air quality engineer involves strong communication skills because air quality engineers need to be able to explain the results of their tests to others and may even need to participate in legal action against polluters if they work for the government. They also need analytical skills to be able to review test data. Problem-solving skills may be needed to identify the source of pollution. Air quality engineers who work in product design also need problem-solving skills to be able to find ways for equipment to effectively operate without producing excessive pollution.

Career Outlook and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that from 2016 to 2026, the average job growth for all careers is expected to be 7%. During this same period, the BLS forecasts an 8% job growth for environmental engineers, which includes air quality engineers. As of 2018, PayScale.com reported that air quality engineers earned a median salary of $66,714 per year.

Related Careers

Since air quality engineers are interested in protecting the environment, individuals considering this career option may also be interested in working to protect natural resources in other capacities, or they could consider jobs in other related areas of engineering. The links here lead to information about some other career options aspiring air quality engineers may also want to consider.

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