Soil scientists map and classify soils and provide interpretations for land planners and managers.
Sample of Reported Job Titles
Agronomist, Agronomy Research Manager, Agronomy Specialist, Crop Nutrition Scientist, Microbiology Soil Scientist, Research Soil Scientist, Soil Classifier/Soil Scientist, Soil Fertility Extension Specialist, Soil Scientist, Supervisory Research Geneticist (Plants)
They conduct research on soil degradation or erosion, or on movement of substances such as nutrients and pesticides through the soil profile. Sometimes soil scientists identify problems such as wetness and erosion that limit soil use. Often they write soil descriptions and prepare maps and information about soils. Universities, private industries, USDA agencies, chemical companies, state and county governments, and environmental consulting firms all hire soil scientists.
Employment for soil scientists usually falls into one of two sub fields:
- Agricultural Soil Scientist: These soil scientists focus on the food and farming aspects of soil. They often serve as farm advisors, crop consultants, or representatives of agricultural companies.
- Environmental Soil Scientist: These soil scientists focus on the soil's role in a healthy ecosystem. They often work in environmental positions dealing with water quality concerns, remediation of contaminants, or for on-site evaluation of soil properties in construction, waste disposal, or recreational facilities.
To be a soil scientist you need a college degree in a related biological, physical, or earth science field and take classes in soil science. People who become soil scientists usually like working out-of doors and studying the sciences, especially physics, chemistry, geology, environmental science, and biology.
Some employers prefer candidates with additional education. Both master's and doctoral degrees are available in soil sciences from agricultural colleges. A PhD is necessary for soil scientists who would like to teach and do research as university professors.
Median Salary 2022
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary of a Soil Scientist in 2022 was $76,410.
Want to know more?
- Science Buddies: Soil Scientist
- Career Profiles in Soil & Environmental Sciences
- Soil Science Society of America Career Brochure (PDF)
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