How to Become an Air Pollution Monitor


Career Path Guide for Working in This Field

Although there are a few different routes you can't take to get into this field, you should to begin by determining if this career is well suited for you. If it isn’t you may not enjoy your work, which will result in a short and miserable career.


Are you interested in a career that allows you to balance fieldwork with laboratory and office work? Are you interested in protecting people from air pollutants?


If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to these questions, then keep reading to find out more.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to become an air pollution monitor. We've also included helpful information for an air quality monitor career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Air Pollution Monitor Job Description

Air pollution monitors are responsible for monitoring, assessing and reporting ambient air quality for urban and rural areas, as well as for emergency situations, such as after a chemical spill or a fire.



General Job Duties

• Calibrate microscopes and other test equipment

• Collect samples of gases, soils, water, industrial wastewater, or asbestos products to conduct tests on pollutant levels and identify sources of pollution

• Collect, record and perform statistical analysis of environmental data

• Prepare reports, summaries and charts based on the interpretation of data

• Provide technical support and assistance to government representatives, company representatives or the general public

• Maintain files, such as hazardous waste databases, chemical usage data, personnel exposure information, or diagrams showing equipment locations



Education You'll Likely Need

In order to work as an air quality/pollution monitor, you'll most likely need at least a diploma from a technical college. Having a bachelor’s degree in a field such as environmental science is typically not a requirement, but is usually considered an asset in the eyes of employers.





Who Employs Air Pollution Monitors?

There are a number of organizations that employ the skills, knowledge and competencies of air pollution monitors on a part-time, full time or contractual basis, including:


• Electrical utility organizations (public and private)

• Environmental and engineering consulting firms

• Environmental monitoring agencies

• Private research organizations

• Waste management companies

• Oil, gas and petrochemical companies

• Federal, provincial/state, or municipal government departments

• Mapping and remote sensing companies

• Companies that manufacture or sell air pollution monitoring equipment


Accreditation for Becoming an Air Pollution Monitor

Depending on the state or province in which you plan to work as an air quality monitor, you may need to obtain a license or certification. As these criteria can vary from region to region, speak with your local state or provincial government for more information.





Typical Working Conditions 

Work Environment: Air pollution monitors typically perform their jobs in a combination of settings; including laboratories, offices and fieldwork. Fieldwork typically offers a variety of work settings for air pollution monitors; for example, they may have to investigate the air quality of a fire in a rural community in order to advise if it’s safe for nearby residents to remain in their homes.


While performing fieldwork, air pollution monitors must remain standing or crouching for long periods of time. They must also carry, assemble and utilize equipment, which involves lights duty lifting and frequent movement.


Working Hours: Air pollution monitors often work regular office weekday hours, although their hours may extend into evenings and weekends on occasion to perform certain job duties, such as performing fieldwork or meeting with clients.



Average Salary Levels in This Field

The salary level for air pollution monitors can vary depending on many factors, such as their level of experience, their level of education, where they work, and many others.


There is no reliable data for this specific occupation, however we can get a good idea of their salary level by looking at the salary level of workers in the general occupational groups of air pollution monitors.


Air Pollution Monitor Salary Canada (Alberta figures only): According to the 2018 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Chemical Technologists and Technicians occupational group earn an average salary of $62,913 per year.


Air Pollution Monitor Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level for workers in the Environmental Science and Protection Technicians occupational group is $41,380 per year.



Job Opportunities - Current Postings

Our job board below has "air pollution monitor" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.



Why is this Profession Important?

Air pollution is an insidious threat; air pollutants can be extremely harmful even, if people can’t see them or don’t know they’re present at all.


The job of an air pollution monitor is important because the data captured through their monitoring and reporting efforts allows for accurate assessments to be made with the respect to air quality in a certain area, and the possible effects it can have on humans, animals and the environment as a whole. 



Alternate Titles for "Air Pollution Monitor"

• Air Quality Specialist

• Environmental Protection Technician/Technologist

• Environmental Science and Protection Technician/Technologist

• Pollution Control Technician/Technologist



Similar Careers in Our Database

Listed below are jobs that are similar in nature to that of an air pollution monitor, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Environmental Chemist

Environmental Impact Assessment Specialist

Environmental Technician

Geoscience Technician



References For This Career Guide

Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as an air pollution monitor.


Occupations in Alberta:Pollution Control Technologist.” (March 1, 2012). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved October 21, 2019.

Occupational Outlook Handbook - Life, Physical, and Social Science:Environmental Science and Protection Technicians.” (September 4, 2019). United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved October 21, 2019.

Explore Environmental Careers:Air Quality Technician/Technologist.” (n.d.). ECO Canada website. Retrieved October 21, 2019.




Relevant Scholarships 

Scholarships listed for majors that are relevant for becoming an air pollution monitor can be found on our Chemistry Scholarships and Environmental Science Scholarships pages.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Relevant Fields of Study

Studying one of the university majors listed below can help form a solid foundation for this career. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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Air Pollution Monitor