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Chapter 2, Section 3:
Air Quality Management

Working in air quality management is not limited to people with an engineering degree. Jobs in air quality management range from field monitor technicians with an Associate Degree or certification from a 2-year college, to environmental scientists with Bachelor or Master degrees, or with Doctorates in atmospheric chemistry. Air quality is disturbed by fire, dust, industrial pollutants and vehicle emissions that can reduce visibility, impair breathing, corrode structures and harm plant and animal communities. The horizon has been dimmed by polluted air. We see less and breathe less and we can no longer clearly view the horizon and the boundaries of our world. We must restore purity to the air.

Employment Breakdown:
80,000 air quality professionals nationwide
Private sector - 20%
Public sector - 75%
Nonprofit sector - 5%

Key Job Titles:
  • Air Quality Engineer
  • Meteorologist
  • Air Quality Planner
  • Environmental Attorney
  • Environmental Auditor
  • Toxicologist
  • Atmospheric Chemist
  • Public Information Specialist
  • Inspector/Field Staff
  • Environmental Economist
  • Environmental Manager

Air quality engineers and inspectors with engineering backgrounds start at around $33,000, a salary that can rise quickly. Entry-level scientists start in the high 20s. Average salaries for more experienced professionals are from $50,000 to $65,000 annually. Managers and successful consultants can earn $75,000 to $90,000 or more.


The Learning Never Ends
In the early 1990s, the San Carlos Apache Tribe needed an Environmental Director, but there were few qualified for the job. Mary Kay was one of ten children in a reservation family that often camped together in the wooded mountains around San Carlos. After graduating from Globe High School, Mary got a job at the tribal environmental office, quickly learning to deal with its diverse demands. She was so successful that the tribe made her director of their entire environmental program for five years.

Despite her success, Mary Kay felt the need for more learning. She needed more understanding of the science of environmental systems and sharper administrative skills to manage tribal enterprises. She enrolled at South Mountain Community College, then transferred to Northern Arizona University to work on a Bachelor’s Degree in environmental science with an emphasis in administration and policy.

Mary has said that “changing habits of a community is not easy, and today most communities have bad habits that can potentially harm their health.” Her advice to high schoolers is to have fun while keeping the future in sight. “Learn how school subjects can be applied to specific professions. Learn self control and discipline. And finally, be yourself and never be afraid to ask for help. Read, read, read, so you will be prepared for the amount of reading required in any course in college. Be healthy, happy and absolutely persevere in all your dreams, and aspire to be the best—never accept limits.



Environmental Education Outreach Program (EEOP)
Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP)
PO Box 5768     Flagstaff, AZ 86011-5768     Phone: (928) 523-1275     Fax: (928) 523-1280
E-mail: eeop@nau.edu

Last updated: May 27, 2005