Soil Scientist

Soil Scientist

Soil scientists study soil characteristics, map soil types and investigate responses of soils under certain conditions. Soil scientists study the chemical composition, structure, and properties of soil and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. Some personal qualities of soil scientists include being practical; working well in a team and as an individual; being analytical; having strong communication, writing, planning and organizing skills; and problem solving.
What Responsibilities Will I Have?: 
  • Research or study soil characteristics, map soil types and investigate responses of soils to known management practices
  • Provide advice on rural or urban land use
  • Perform chemical analysis on micro-organism content of soil
  • Investigate responses of specific soil types to soil management practices
  • Conduct experiments on farms or experimental stations to determine best soil types for different plants
  • Initiate and implement research and development programs for soil research
  • Prepare documented proposals and successfully establish research trials
  • Communicate with relevant industry sectors and initiate well targeted research projects
  • Meet the company requirements for trial planning and operation of research projects
  • Manage trial establishment and collection of data
  • Budget for research work and provide management reporting in regard to trial/research progress
Recommended High School Courses: 
The following high school courses are recommended: agricultural education, a focus on science (particularly earth science, chemistry and biology) and mathematics and physics.
Education/Training Required: 
A bachelor’s degree in chemistry, crop science, soil science, biology or a related field, such as horticulture, plant physiology or environmental science is required to become a soil scientist. There are some positions, especially those that are more research-driven, that require a master’s or doctorate degree. Those degrees, along with experience, are needed for more administrative level positions in the field.
Future Job Market Outlook: 
Typical Employers: 
Soil scientists are employed by companies, research firms, governmental organizations, environmental organizations or conservation organizations, and colleges or universities.
Suggested Professional Organizations and Associations: 
  • Soil Science Society of America
  • National Alliance of Independent Crop Consultants
  • American Society of Agronomy
  • Committee for Sustainable Agriculture
  • Crop Science Society of America
  • Weed Science Society of America
  • American Farm Bureau Federation
  • National Farmers Organization 
Average Annual Full-Time Salary: 
$68,893
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Salary data is provided by the AgCareers.com Compensation Benchmark Review™. These salaries should be considered as examples and are provided for educational and exploratory purposes. The salary information provided should not be used as a benchmark. Actual salaries are influenced by numerous variables including but not limited to demographics, size and scope of the role, level of experience, qualifications, and education of the worker.