If you're passionate about science and the environment, then a career as a soil scientist could be for you. No, soil science isn't about playing with dirt in a professional setting.
It's using acquired knowledge, advanced technology, and specialized resources to study and maintain a vital resource that sustains life.
And it is one that you may absolutely love. But what exactly does a soil scientist do?
Soil Scientist Job Description
Primarily, a soil scientist would analyze soil samples to provide invaluable information to benefit the construction industry, science, agriculture, and even the government. But it doesn't end there, some key tasks include:
- Applying knowledge of soil science to collect, assess, and examine samples.
- Enhancing soil knowledge by analyzing soil systems and soil management data provided by research institutions.
- Embarking on fieldwork in a variety of environment to collect samples.
- Producing soil maps to indicate soil types, their distributions, and other related details.
- Conducting laboratory research and completing paperwork.
- Consulting for professionals in related fields.
- Incorporating soil science knowledge into areas such as ecosystem management and land management.
Soil Scientist Skills and Career Prospects
As a soil scientist, you need high-level skills that include:
A career in soil science is highly rewarding; you could go on to work in sectors that include:
Soil Scientist Training and Education Requirements
The minimum requirement for becoming a soil scientist is a bachelor's degree in an agricultural field. Generally, the degree should focus on environmental soil science or soil science.
Fortunately, other science-related degrees may increase your chances of achieving your dream. They include biology, chemistry, environmental science, geology, and mathematics. A few others are microbiology, physical geography, and physics.
You may decide to get a master's degree or PhD. if your degree didn't cover soil science topics into details. While training is typically done on the job, you may decide to partake in Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programs to stay current.
Soil Scientist Salary and Wages
In June 2019, salary.com reported that the average soil scientist salary is $70,967. However, the range is $56,794 to $87,844 depending on education, additional certifications, and experience. According to experts, a professional working for the federal government earns $9,260 more than the $63,280 of a merchant wholesaler.
Likewise, a soil scientist in research would receive an average of $59,980, while those in consulting make around $56,550. It's vital to note that the salary changes from state to state.
Soil Scientist Certifications
Generally, a certificate is not required to practice; but, it contributes to advancing one's career. Depending on your research and career focus, you may consider certifications that recognize your expertise.
To sharpen your skills set, into the following organizations for certifications.
Soil Scientist Professional Associations
There are a few organizations that support soil scientists. The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) is one of the most prominent professional bodies. They publish publications, offer professional development, share resources, and networking opportunities for soil scientists.
Another major organization that a soil scientist needs to belong to is The U.S. Consortium of Soil Science Associations (USCSSA). They support the professional activities of soil scientists, offer training, and maintain a database of soil science contractors.
Benefits of Becoming a Soil Scientist
A soil scientist typically focuses on the chemical, biological, and physical structure of soil. This primary role is the heart of sustainability because soil is a vital resource that sustains food production, animal life, and plant life. By interpreting soil-related data, you play a role in resource management.
Additionally, your results could influence agricultural production, human health, climate change, and natural resources.
Share your thoughts about this career below.
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