How to Become a Soil Scientist
Having a soil scientist career can be a bit of dirty work because they spend a lot of time in the field.
Soil nutrients affects crop production, groundwater quality and terrestrial environments.
This is why there are opportunities in aspects such as soil fertility, hydrology and erosion. But soil scientists can also find opportunities in environment protection.
For example, industries like mining, petroleum and forestry need soil scientists for environmental impact assessments.
If you’re interested in carving a path in soil science, let’s review salary, job growth and typical employers for soil scientists.
How much do soil scientists earn?
Soil scientists earn an average salary of about 63,000$. Depending on years of experience and education, this amount goes up or down.
If you look at the environmental science salary pyramid, this position is in the mid pay scale range.
In terms of employment, job opportunities are mostly in government, education and private sector.
Consulting tends to pay the best. But consulting is stressful work and an unbalanced schedule.
For soil scientist careers as a whole, job growth is steady with a positive outlook.
It can be dirty work being a soil scientist
Soil scientists carry out various types of field sampling activities in their line of work. They utilize soil sampling equipment, GIS and GPS in industries such as farming, construction and forestry.
In the private sector, environmental consulting is one the biggest employers for soil scientists. Opportunities can range from all aspects of soil science such as fertility, biology, hydrology or erosion.
- First, the agriculture sector use soil scientists to improve soil fertility and crop production.
- Second, natural resource industries use soil scientists for environmental protection.
- Finally, soil scientists work in government to inform government policies and legislation.
Soil scientists are interested in soil formation factors, classification as well as the physical, chemical and fertility properties of soils.
A combination of office and field work
Soil scientists interpret aerial photography, historical records, and topographic maps. Based on their examination, soil scientists correlate their analysis with ground observations.
Then, they classify soil types and map them out in a geospatial database. This skill requires expertise in geomorphology, hydrology, soil ecology and land use assessment.
- First, soil scientists use geographic information systems (GIS) to map out soil resources and types.
- Second, they use global positioning systems (GPS) to pinpoint core sample locations in the field.
- Finally, reporting and field entries is common in combination with statistical analysis.
If you become a soil scientist, one of your primary objectives will be gathering field data and characterizing soil information. By using statistics, you will write reports based on field observations.
Soil Matters! Education in soil sciences
Most soil scientists have a Bachelor Degree often majoring in geology, geotechnical engineering or soil science.
A lot of the entry position require a Bachelor’s Degree in one of these majors.
And a Masters or PhD are options to elevate employment opportunities and salary further.
From your education background, you should target in on soil morphology, classification, and genesis.
Both pedology and edaphology are the two main branches of soil science.
Like other Earth science disciplines, work experience also goes a long way.