What is an Air Pollution Analyst?

Air Pollution Analyst (also called Air Quality Field Technician) is a professional scientist that collects, organizes, and examines data from polluted air.

What Does an Air Pollution Analyst Do?

Air Pollution Analysts and Air Quality Field Technicians will measure, sample, and analyze data gathered from polluted air. After theorizing or discovering the source of the pollutants, they work with other specialized scientists to develop future techniques for reducing or eradicating air pollution. Air Pollution Analysts play the vital role of controlling human pollution outputs to preserve our precious atmosphere and the air we breathe.

Where Does an Air Pollution Analyst Work?

Air Pollution Analysts spend the majority of their time in offices and laboratories analyzing data and creating comprehensive solutions to air pollution problems. However, some Air Pollution Analysts spend a great deal of time in the field collecting samples and possibly being exposed to toxic conditions. Adverse weather conditions can also be an obstacle for those working in the field.

Air Pollution Analysts are often employed by government agencies on a federal, state, or local level. The data collected often inspires environmental policy changes. However, private corporations and business will sometimes hire Air Pollution Analysts to determine the environmental detriments of their own procedures and practices.

Most Air Pollution Technicians work full time hours, but may be required to work overtime if they are collecting samples in the field.

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What Is the Average Air Pollution Analyst's Salary?

Air pollution analysts, who fall under the broader BLS category of environmental scientists and specialists, earned a median salary of $73,230 as of May 2020. Lower-tier Air Pollution Analysts (lowest 10%) can expect to make around $42,960, while the highest-tier Air Pollution Analysts (top 10%) have the potential to make more than $129,450. Experience and higher education can both contribute to salary increases.*

Air Pollution Analyst Jobs & Job Description

Air pollution analysts perform assessment of data, formulate reports, and evaluate draft and existing policies for private and public stakeholders concerned with air pollution. Through careful analysis and reasoning, analysts measure the effects or future effects of policies to determine which particular policy will best accomplish regulatory goals. While job duties vary significantly, the following list includes typical responsibilities that one might encounter as an air pollution analyst:

  • Evaluate existing policies as they have developed in light of new data and circumstances.
  • Create new proposals to drive policy
  • Focus on individual or industry problems and create policy that will support a solution; focus on technical problems
  • Define and implement the most effective solution from an economical, regulatory and human resources perspective
  • Analyze political processes which use the role and influence of internal and external stakeholders in the process
  • Combine case studies, legal and regulatory precedents, research and statistics to create a detailed analysis
  • Test, where possible, aspects of the policy to ensure that it is useful and durable by industry standards
  • Stay informed of interest group demands, which include businesses, governments, and special interest citizen groups
  • Be accessible to answer public query and relevant polling information
  • Prepare sub-reports or preliminary reports and other guiding documents
  • Present findings, reports, and draft policies to internal stakeholders and governmental organizations
  • Make professional recommendations to decision-makers that balance environmental, social and economic factors
  • Develop timelines and metrics for the implementation of the policy in question
  • Account and mitigate for unintended effects and effects across demographics
  • Collect supporting and detracting data to ensure that tier-1 analysis is valid

Senior air pollution policy analysts have experience that enables them to undertake more duties that are defined as managerial or administrative in nature. While advancement does vary, senior analysts can expect the following types of duties in addition to what they've already experienced in the field:

  • Assign a decisionmaking weight to interdepartmental and intergovernmental policy issues
  • Coordinate the work group's business planning processes and accountability reporting
  • Support processes for records management, retention, destruction
  • Make recommendations on a broad range of initiatives and across multi regulatory timelines
  • Develop and implement air pollution policies with other environmental policies
  • Provide advice on environmental planning and regulations that may be impacted
  • Approve submissions from junior analysts prior to publishing, or vetting with internal and external stakeholders
  • Approve report preparation, revisions and professional review
  • Manage editing and proofreading processes
  • Stay up to date on emerging environmental issues that may require policy adjustment
  • Approve first points of contact for internal and external stakeholder queries
  • Sign off on draft policy
  • Adopt or endorse new technology to aid workflow
  • Participate on steering committees for policy and regulatory reform
  • Participate on or chair committees for air pollution program development
  • Assess gaps in policy from a longitudinal perspective and exploit opportunities to remediate in line with stakeholder objectives

What Is the Job Demand for Air Pollution Analysts?

The job demand for Air Pollution Analysts is projected to grow 8% between 2020 and 2030.* This is partially due to increased interest in environmental safety and the stresses currently being placed on the environment.

What Are the Educational Requirements to Become an Air Pollution Analyst?

At the minimum, Air Pollution Analysts require a Bachelor's Degree in natural sciences, physical sciences, mathematics, or other related field. Higher education and research experience will help garner higher salaries, so attending Grad School is recommended in today's competitive job market.

Some qualities that successful Air Pollution Analysts possess are: A basic background in chemistry and biology; a basic knowledge of statistics and data analysis; ability to work well with other scientists, including engineers and chemists; stamina and focus when working outdoors or in the field.

What's the Difference Between an Air Pollution Analyst and a Air Quality Engineer?

You might have seen advertisements for an “Air Quality Engineer”. Is there a difference between that role and an Air Quality (or Pollution) Analyst? The short answer is “yes”. The long answer is that there are subtle differences between the two job types, but perform similar roles.

Although there are no hard and fast rules, recruiters now differentiate their requirements. The major difference is that an Engineer will go into the field to collect sampling data. They will also be involved in testing, but they will have broader knowledge and perform a more intense range of tests. They might also be involved in the project work to clear up pollution. This is a more involved role, typically following a procedure from start to finish, including report writing. An Air Quality (Pollution) Analyst will generally not be involved with the collection of samples, or much fieldwork for that matter.

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What Kind of Societies and Professional Organizations Do Air Pollution Analysts Have?

Air Pollution Analysts and those who wish to become Air Pollution Analysts can look to the following government sites for guidance:

  • Air Pollution Training Institute (APTI):
    The institute offers opportunities for Air Pollution Analysts to refine their skills in a classroom environment, as well as online. They also offer short-term workshops.
  • Clean Air Trust: http://www.cleanairtrust.org - An organization dedicated to analyzing current air pollution policy, increasing environmental awareness, and strengthening the Clean Air act.
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
    http://water.epa.gov/polwaste/stormwater/airdeposition_index.cfm - This government agency preserves the United States' environmental resources. Their section on air details a variety of policies, regulations, and concerns about air quality preservation. They are also a top employer of Air Pollution Analysts.
  • National Association of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA): http://www.4cleanair.org
    A non-partisan, non-profit organization that unites many different local air pollution control agencies around the U.S. They exchange vital information about air pollution and help increase cooperation between different environmental agencies around the country.

*2020 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures and job growth projections for environmental scientists and specialists reflect national data not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed September 2021.