Similar Titles

Environmental Engineer, Air Quality Engineer, Air Quality Specialist, Environmental Compliance Engineer, Emissions Control Engineer, Environmental Health and Safety Engineer, Clean Air Specialist, Air Quality Analyst, Environmental Consultant (with a focus on air quality), Air Pollution Control Specialist

Job Description

Air pollution is not only a huge and expensive problem, but it’s also everyone’s problem. Over 1/3rd of Americans “live in places with unhealthy levels of air pollution,” according to the American Lung Association. And if we don’t address it, that’ll extend to the rest of us eventually.

Poor air quality can lead to or contribute to a range of medical conditions like asthma, cardiovascular disease, metabolic problems, and issues with our nervous and reproductive systems.

Industries known for impacting air quality include energy production, transportation, manufacturing, agriculture, and more. Organizations in such industries use Air Pollution Control Engineers to design and implement systems that reduce harmful emissions, helping to ensure that industries can comply with air quality standards.

As a specialized type of environmental engineer, Air Pollution Control Engineers also identify sources of pollution, optimize control systems, and check that emissions aren’t exceeding legal limits. Their work safeguards public health and the environment while enabling industries to continue operations in a safer, more eco-friendly manner! 

Rewarding Aspects of Career
  • Play a vital role in protecting public health and the environment
  • Ensure adherence to air quality regulations and standards
  • Contribute to sustainable industrial practices and environmental conservation
2022 Employment
2032 Projected Employment
The Inside Scoop
Job Responsibilities

Working Schedule

Air Pollution Control Engineers work full-time with overtime required for urgent projects or compliance deadlines. Travel may be necessary for onsite evaluations and system implementations.

Typical Duties

  • Conduct site inspections and audits; check emission sources and control systems
  • Collect samples of soil, water, and gas, following Environmental Protection Agency guidelines
  • Analyze and interpret environmental data using modeling, simulation tools, and Geographic Information Systems. Look for contaminants and pollutants
  • Identify potential safety hazards and environmental risks. Ensure safe levels of air quality
  • Collaborate with other engineers, scientists, and regulatory bodies
  • Design and oversee the installation of air pollution control systems
  • Develop strategies for reducing air pollutants such as greenhouse gases
  • Ensure compliance with local, state, and federal air quality regulations
  • Prepare documentation and reports for regulatory compliance
  • Develop training programs on air quality management and pollution control
  • Train and supervise newer technicians

Additional Responsibilities

  • Provide technical expertise on air quality impact assessments
  • Calibrate test instrument
  • Support investigations of incidents and accidents; determine root causes and recommend preventive measures
  • Research trends, best practices, regulatory changes, and new technologies 
Skills Needed on the Job

Soft Skills

  • Analytical
  • Attention to detail
  • Critical thinking
  • Deductive and inductive reasoning
  • Detail-oriented
  • Independent
  • Integrity
  • Monitoring
  • Objectivity
  • Organization
  • Perceptive
  • Problem-solving
  • Reading comprehension
  • Safety-oriented
  • Strong communication skills

Technical Skills

  • Air quality management and pollution control technologies
  • Emergency response
  • Engineering principles and practices
  • Environmental monitoring, sampling, data collection, and analysis tools and techniques
  • Environmental regulations and compliance measures
  • Environmental reporting tools
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • Mobile and stationary sensors
  • Project management
  • Report writing and presentation
  • Safety and health assessment techniques
  • Tools for data analysis, statistical modeling, and environmental modeling
Different Types of Organizations
  • Agricultural organizations
  • Energy companies
  • Environmental consulting firms
  • Government regulatory agencies (federal, state, and local)
  • Manufacturing plants
  • Public Utilities
  • Research institutions
  • Transportation authorities
Expectations and Sacrifices

Air Pollution Control Engineers may work in industrial settings, exposed to pollutants and hazardous conditions. They must closely follow protocols to avoid mishaps and ensure their health and safety.

Persistence, patience, and strong communication skills are needed to tackle industry challenges related to air quality issues. The health and welfare of workers, communities, and the environment are at stake, so they have to be diligent and effective to make a real impact.

Because technology and policies continue to evolve, they must strive to keep up with the changes through continuous learning. 

Current Trends

In recent years, there’s been a lot of public and governmental pressure to protect the environment more—including our air quality! One initiative is the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Air Toxic Trends Sites network to assess trends and emission reduction program effectiveness.

A major goal is reducing criteria pollutants (carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide) that pose serious health and environmental risks. Air Pollution Control Engineers are at the forefront of that push to reduce these harmful elements from our air by implementing regulations and using advanced tools like remote sensing for more precise monitoring.

AI has also been incorporated into the field, requiring engineers to update their tech skills so they can maximize the power of these new tools!

What kinds of things did people in this career enjoy doing when they were younger…

Students who become Air Pollution Control Engineers often have an interest in the natural world and environmental conservation. They might have loved science clubs, running around outdoors, and being involved with community-based sustainability projects. Many were interested in biology, chemistry, and environmental studies from an early age. 

What kinds of things did people in this career enjoy doing when they were younger…

Students who become Air Pollution Control Engineers often have an interest in the natural world and environmental conservation. They might have loved science clubs, running around outdoors, and being involved with community-based sustainability projects. Many were interested in biology, chemistry, and environmental studies from an early age. 

Education and Training Needed
  • Air Pollution Control Engineers usually need a bachelor’s degree in environmental or chemical engineering. Some positions require a master’s degree
  • Relevant coursework may include:
  1. Air Pollution Control
  2. Air Quality Management
  3. Climate Change and Adaptation Measures
  4. Ecological Engineering
  5. Emission Control Technologies
  6. Environmental Chemistry
  7. Environmental Impact Assessment
  8. Environmental Microbiology
  9. Hazardous Waste Management
  10. Thermodynamics
  11. Water and Wastewater Treatment
  • Hands-on experience through internships or cooperative engineering programs is highly beneficial
  • Engineers may go on to take the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, earn a National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying’s Engineer In Training certification, and pursue a National Society of Professional Engineers’ Professional Engineer license
  • Workers may need a valid driver’s license to travel to job sites
  • Look for ABET-accredited schools offering programs in environmental or chemical engineering
  • Think about your schedule and flexibility when deciding whether to enroll in an on-campus, online, or hybrid program
  • Seek programs with internship or cooperative education opportunities
  • Consider the cost of tuition, discounts, and local scholarship opportunities (in addition to federal aid)
  • Look for programs that collaborate with external partners, which can augment your learning experience
  • Review graduation rates and post-graduate job placement statistics
Things to do in High School and College
  • Participate in science and engineering clubs to gain practical skills
  • Look for environmental projects to learn about air quality issues
  • Focus on courses in mathematics, chemistry, physics, and environmental science
  • Considering doing a pre-apprenticeship program in high school to gain practical hands-on experience where you can apply principles in the real world
  • Seek mentorship or shadowing opportunities with air pollution professionals
  • Ask a seasoned Air Pollution Control Engineer to do an informational interview with you, or see if you can shadow them at work for a day
  • Get a part-time job related to air quality (such as an Air Quality Technician)
  • Watch videos and read blogs like Airly and AirNow to stay informed about industry trends. Additional blogs include:
  1. Air Pollution News
  2. Air Quality News
  4. Daily Dose Of Air Pollution
  • Check out job descriptions posted on employment portals to determine the most current job qualifications and areas of specialization that might interest you
  • Engage in air quality-related discussion groups like r/AirQuality on Reddit or other forums
  • Join professional organizations like the National Association of Clean Air Agencies
  • Apply for engineering scholarships or apprenticeships
  • Keep track of work and academic accomplishments for your resume and college applications
Typical Roadmap
Air Pollution Control Engineer Roadmap
How to land your 1st job
  1. Air Pollution Control Engineering
  2. Air Quality Analysis
  3. Air Sampling Techniques
  4. Atmospheric Science
  5. Carbon Footprint Analysis
  6. Emission Control Technologies
  7. Emission Inventory
  8. Environmental Auditing
  9. Environmental Impact Assessment
  10. Environmental Risk Assessment
  11. Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  12. Hazardous Waste Management
  13. Industrial Hygiene
  14. Pollution Monitoring
  • Review Air Pollution Control Engineer resume templates and sample interview questions  
  • Ask your school to connect you with recruiters. Take advantage of chances to intern with environmental safety-related organizations
  • Reach out to your school’s career center to get resume help, do mock interviews, and learn about upcoming job fairs
  • Do your research on potential large employers, such as:
  • During interviews, demonstrate a keen awareness of trends in the industry
  • Dress professionally for job interviews
  • Ask previous professors and supervisors to write a recommendation 
    letters or request their consent (in advance) to list them as references
Recommended Tools/Resources



  • Air Quality, by Wayne T. Davis, et al.
  • Choked: Life and Breath in the Age of Air Pollution, by Beth Gardiner
  • Climate Restoration: The Only Future That Will Sustain the Human Race, by Peter Fiekowsky and Carole Douglis 
Plan B

Air Pollution Control Engineers play a crucial role in guiding sustainable practices and policies to protect our natural world for future generations. But if this career field isn’t grabbing your interest, consider a few related fields that may also aid the environment, such as:

  • Brownfield Redevelopment Specialist
  • Chemical Engineer
  • Civil Engineer
  • Climate Change Analyst
  • Conservation Scientist
  • Emission Trading Specialist
  • Environmental Compliance Inspector
  • Environmental Consultant
  • Environmental Engineering Technologist
  • Environmental Policy Advisor
  • Environmental Scientist
  • Hydrologist
  • Industrial Ecologist
  • Industrial Hygienist
  • Mechanical Engineer
  • Natural Sciences Manager
  • Project Management Specialist
  • Water/Wastewater Engineer
  • Water Resource Specialist


Online Courses and Tools