How to Become a Soil and Plant Scientist (2022)

How to Become a Soil and Plant Scientist (1)

One may wonder why, of all the available options, a scientist would choose a career focusing on soil. But soil isn't just dirt - it's a vital resource that sustains the miracle of life on our planet. And with global population swelling, soil scientists have the very important job of increasing crop productivity while conserving soils and preventing erosion and pollution. Soil scientists made the agricultural “green revolution” of the 1960s possible, and are still at the center of solving important modern-day challenges. Many soil scientists now work on feeding the world's people in agriculturally, environmentally, and economically sustainable ways.

A soil scientist studies the physical and chemical properties of soil. He or she also studies the distribution, origin, and history of soils, as well as the species that partly comprise them. These professionals identify, interpret, map, and manage soils. Their expertise is commonly applied to agricultural issues. They also work on environmental conservation and restoration, and help mining operations apply environmentally responsible practices. Since soils are affected by other systems, soil scientists also study land and water resources. For example, they may also help protect water resources by preventing surface water and groundwater pollution.

Many soil scientists work closely with farmers, advising them on crop and soil related problems, helping them develop nutrient management and soil conservation plans, and design chemically-reduced or chemical-free integrated pest management strategies.

What Do Soil Scientists Do?

Soil scientists are typically involved in collecting, analyzing, and interpreting soil data; inspecting sites; and planning management and conservation measures. They use air and satellite images in their research. They also use geographic information systems (GIS) to analyze the geomorphology, topography, vegetation, and climate of a site, and to create soil maps.

Soil scientists may manage soils for crop production, including forest and biofuel products. To do this, they conduct soil surveys, measure the characteristics of the soil, and assess available nutrient and water levels. They also monitor the effects of local activities on soil productivity, such as farm, grazing, and forestry operations. Soil scientists may provide technical advice regarding the capabilities and limitations of soils for various applications, including watershed rehabilitation projects, transportation planning, and recreation development. They also predict the effects of land management options.

Soil scientists may also specialize in environmental assessment and reclamation. For example, they may be involved in creating environmental impacts statements, erosion control, mine reclamation, and industrial site restoration. Soil scientists contribute to these projects by advising on the distribution and fate of toxins in the soil and water, as well as remediation alternatives. They may also be asked to assess wetlands or archaeological sites.

Where does a Soil Scientist work?

Most soil scientists work for federal and state governments. Some work for private companies as consultants or lab technicians. These professionals split their time between the office and the field. They may need to walk over rough and uneven land to examine the soil, and use shovels to gather samples.

Most soil scientists work full time and keep standard workweeks. Some jobs may involve periodic travel. Soil scientists may also teach at colleges and universities, or work at research institutions.

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(Video) I AM A SOIL SCIENTIST 👩‍🔬 HOW TO BECOME A SOIL SCIENTIST | Gardening in Canada

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What Is a Typical Soil Scientist's Salary?

The average salary for soil and plant scientists was $68,830 as of May 2020. Those working in R&D earned the highest median salary, at $83,780, followed by those in food manufacturing, at $73,760.* Those working as merchant wholesalers earned $63,280. Soil scientists working in research and development were paid $59,980, while those employed in management, scientific, and technical consulting services made $56,550. Professionals employed by colleges, universities, and professional schools earned $46,710.

(Video) Soil and Plant Scientists Careers Overview

StateTotal EmploymentBottom 25%Median SalaryTop 75%
Alabama70$46,260$56,650$75,940
Arizona190$58,720$71,750$80,050
Arkansas50$49,360$72,700$93,070
California2,580$55,760$70,820$95,380
Colorado410$43,730$54,460$64,370
Connecticut120$57,500$70,830$82,180
Delaware70$51,940$60,700$73,150
District of Columbia60$68,020$83,910$100,570
Florida250$38,320$58,930$93,580
Georgia180$47,130$61,110$81,340
Hawaii110$49,850$63,840$80,330
Idaho150$45,320$69,180$79,930
Illinois380$44,740$55,260$72,130
Indiana170$40,640$52,270$74,340
Iowa900$52,940$62,920$79,210
Kansas400$47,470$57,600$71,670
Kentucky50$50,070$67,340$90,080
Louisiana90$60,990$74,330$88,060
Maine60$38,850$53,690$66,010
Maryland400$79,380$109,670$123,110
Massachusetts390$66,410$88,300$106,280
Michigan380$44,880$52,900$68,570
Minnesota650$53,360$68,340$91,160
Mississippi70$66,910$80,030$120,290
Missouri290$33,970$46,280$68,960
Montana140$50,970$61,140$75,820
Nebraska530$42,980$55,310$71,020
Nevada40$68,710$74,630$80,710
New Jersey60$65,750$74,470$86,850
New Mexico90$46,460$65,530$77,990
New York160$53,490$62,340$90,140
North Carolina710$43,120$54,200$73,100
North Dakota370$55,040$72,380$101,800
Ohio310$42,730$55,630$62,800
Oklahoma210$20,170$44,780$65,300
Oregon510$62,960$76,090$90,490
Pennsylvania210$45,630$55,800$76,770
Puerto Rico190$29,590$34,860$39,390
South Dakota580$47,130$58,700$72,500
Tennessee140$41,740$54,140$75,850
Texas510$46,580$63,180$79,120
Utah60$43,630$52,280$71,410
Virginia150$46,730$59,320$79,600
Washington240$64,020$73,680$84,510
West Virginia40$36,670$45,670$63,920
Wisconsin560$47,440$57,230$64,300

Table data taken from BLS (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes191013.htm)

Soil and Plant Scientist Jobs

Soil and plant scientist careers focus on the usage, development, classification and monitoring of the Earth's plant life. Some soil and plant scientists focus on teaching or fieldwork, while others enter either theoretical or - most commonly - applied research as there is still much that scientists do not know about the earth's biomass and its application on human life and health. This means that duties vary significantly from job to job, but the list below includes job duties found within a typical scientist's scope of work.

  • Review literature, research, and fieldwork samples to stay current in the field
  • Record biomass supply and usage and other metrics
  • Develop plant resources
  • Forecast and monitor plant and green mass increase/reduction over many years
  • Use predictive computer modeling to aid in forecasts for the future
  • Use predictive computer models to analyze the most efficient ways to manage available biomass in a given region
  • Evaluate the effect of environmental and land-use on plant and soil mass
  • Respond to ecological catastrophes like floods, droughts, fires, and super storms
  • Evaluate different methods for plant and soil remediation
  • Ensure soil, air, and water quality are monitored within the research region and concerns are being met
  • Conduct or contribute to climate impact studies from a plant and soil science perspective

Plant and soil scientists with professional experience are often given a leadership role in the workgroup. Many times, this results in additional tasks like:

  • Planning and coordinating inquiries regarding the analysis and evaluation of biomass and its uses and impacts on local and global populations
  • Evaluating and reporting on the impact of pollutants and human advancement on soil and plant mass
  • Using predictive technology to test different ecological models in order to generate hypotheses
  • Oversee recordkeeping and data collection methods. Ensure accuracy for field and lab work
  • Negotiate access to federally owned forest and green resources
  • Support team members' research endeavors
  • Establish effective team systems for communication and budgeting and milestones
  • Create funding and grant applications
  • Advise policy administrators and other stakeholders regarding soil and plant data
  • Consult and advice external stakeholders, professionals, or researchers
  • Plan outreach and advocacy programs
  • Design and oversee team budgets, milestones, and benchmarks
  • Mentor team members and colleagues

What Is the Job Demand for Soil Scientist?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job demand for soil and plant scientists is expected to rise 9% between 2020 and 2030.* Greater focus on agricultural sustainability will likely drive part of this increase. However, this is a somewhat slower rate than that of agricultural and food scientists overall, and slower than the average for all occupations.

(Video) How to Build Great Soil - A Soil Science Masterclass with Dr. Elaine Ingham (Part 1 of 4)

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(Video) A Day in the Life of Scientist David Weindorf - soil scientist and agronomist

Getting a Soil Scientist Degree

Most positions require a minimum of a bachelor's degree from an agricultural university, many of which offer two concentrations in soils. An Environmental Soil Science option prepares students for environmental careers specializing in water quality, remediation of contaminated sites, or evaluating soils for proposed facilities and recreational sites. A Soil Science option primarily focuses on preparing students for agricultural positions.

Degrees Related to Soil Science

  • Industrial Engineering Online Degree Info

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What Kind of Societies and Professional Organizations Do Soil Scientists Have?

The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) (https://www.soils.org/) is an international professional organization for sharing knowledge and ideas to sustain healthy soils. It offers professional development and networking opportunities.

The U.S. Consortium of Soil Science Associations (http://soilsassociation.org/) is a federation of related member societies. It coordinates communication between the societies to further common goals. It also offers training, operates a speakers bureau, and maintains a list of soil science contractors.

Recommend Resources

*2020 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures and job growth projections for agricultural and food scientists reflect national data not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed September 2021.

FAQs

How do you become a soil scientist? ›

You can only become a soil scientist if you have a degree in a relevant subject such as soil science, environmental science or geology. Many employers also expect a relevant postgraduate qualification. Read our article on scientific postgraduate study to explore your different options.

What are soil scientists called? ›

Soil scientists include agrologists, pedologists and soil classifiers.

How much money does a plant scientist? ›

How much does a Plant Scientist make in the United States? The average Plant Scientist salary in the United States is $71,701 as of September 26, 2022, but the range typically falls between $59,301 and $88,501.

What skills do you need to be a plant scientist? ›

We have identified a set of transferable skills that Plant Sciences undergraduates can expect to gain whilst at the Department.
  • Intellectual and Problem Solving Skills. ...
  • Communication Skills. ...
  • Organisational and Interpersonal Skills. ...
  • Research Skills. ...
  • Numeracy and computing. ...
  • Foreign language skills.

Do soil scientists make good money? ›

How much does a Soil Scientist make? Soil scientists make $91,463 per year on average, or $43.97 per hour, in the United States. Soil scientists on the lower end of that spectrum, the bottom 10% to be exact, make roughly $60,000 a year, while the top 10% makes $137,000.

Is soil science a good career? ›

Soil science is an important career! A soil scientist contributes directly to the health of our environment through proper management of this essential resource. Soil scientists enjoy a variety of options for employment, as well as opportunities for advancement through additional education.

Is it hard to become a soil scientist? ›

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.

Is there a demand for soil scientists? ›

There's going to be a strong demand in coming years for graduates to fill these positions.” The field of soil science is the study, analysis, and recommendation of soils for appropriate land use. The field usually diverges into two specialties – agricultural soils and environmental soils.

What are the 5 fields of soil science? ›

Soil Science Practice

Academically, soil scientists tend to be drawn to one of five areas of specialization: microbiology, pedology, edaphology, physics or chemistry.

What does a plant scientist do? ›

Conduct research in breeding, physiology, production, yield, and management of crops and agricultural plants or trees, shrubs, and nursery stock, their growth in soils, and control of pests; or study the chemical, physical, biological, and mineralogical composition of soils as they relate to plant or crop growth.

What does soil scientist do? ›

A soil scientist is a person who is qualified to evaluate and interpret soils and soil-related data for the purpose of understanding soil resources as they contribute to not only agricultural production, but as they affect environmental quality and as they are managed for protection of human health and the environment.

How much does a soil scientist earn per month? ›

In addition, they earn an average bonus of R10,481. Salary estimates based on salary survey data collected directly from employers and anonymous employees in South Africa. An entry level soil scientist (1-3 years of experience) earns an average salary of R343,747.

How long does it take to become a plant scientist? ›

While some soil and plant scientists' positions are entry-level, many employers seek professionals with more than five years of on-the-job experience. This is similar to the medical field where doctors and surgeons must complete a four-to-five year residency in order to be able to properly do their jobs.

What is the difference between botany and plant science? ›

Plant sciences focus more on the biology and chemistry behind plants. A major aspect of plant science is to be able to use and grow plants for agricultural or horticultural purposes. Botany: The study of plants and plant life, including: flowering plants, algae, conifers fungi, ferns, mosses, lichens, etc.

What education is needed for plant systems? ›

Education Requirements

A technical degree in plant science is sufficient for some jobs in assisting scientists to perform applied research or basic research, but a master's or doctoral degree is required to supervise and conduct basic research.

What career works with dirt? ›

Soil Science
  • Agricultural Product Salesperson.
  • Agro geologist.
  • Agronomist.
  • Cooperative Extension Agent.
  • Engineering Technician.
  • Environmental Engineer.
  • Farm Advisor.
  • Hazardous Waste Specialist.

What is the highest paying occupation? ›

Highest Paying Occupations
OCCUPATION2021 MEDIAN PAY
AnesthesiologistsThis wage is equal to or greater than $208,000 per year
OrthodontistsThis wage is equal to or greater than $208,000 per year
Oral and maxillofacial surgeonsThis wage is equal to or greater than $208,000 per year
17 more rows
8 Sept 2022

Who studies dirt? ›

A soil scientist studies the upper few meters of the Earth's crust in terms of its physical and chemical properties; distribution, genesis and morphology; and biological components. A soil scientist needs a strong background in the physical and biological sciences and mathematics.

Where can I work if I study soil science? ›

As a Soil Scientist, you can work in:
  • Environmental consultancies.
  • Research establishments.
  • Commercial and industrial organizations.
  • Universities and other educational institutions.
  • Voluntary or charitable environmental organizations.
  • The Civil Service.
  • Public education centres.
  • Food production companies.

Do environmental scientists travel? ›

Environmental scientists do work in a lab most of the time, but since they work on special projects, they often travel to complete fieldwork as well.

How do you become a soil microbiologist? ›

There are several education requirements to become a microbiology soil scientist. Microbiology soil scientists usually study biology, microbiology or biochemistry, biophysics, molecular biology. 69% of microbiology soil scientists hold a bachelor's degree and 15% hold a master's degree.

Which subjects are required for soil scientist? ›

Degree: The minimum requirement for a soil scientist is a 4-year BSc (Agric) or a 3-year BSc with Soil Science as major subject.

Is Soil Science a professional course? ›

Career prospects for graduates in Soil Science include: horticulture consultant, as well as farm manager, plant geneticist and conservation planner. Professionals also work in the landscape business, soil technical audit and in the food production industry.

What is soil certificate? ›

Certification of organic or natural cosmetic products, raw materials with organic content and base formulas. Approval of non-organic raw materials that can be used in certified products.

What are five tasks that a soil scientist might be required to do while on the job? ›

Detailed Work Activities
  • Prepare scientific or technical reports or presentations. ...
  • Develop sustainable industrial or development methods. ...
  • Advise others about land management or conservation. ...
  • Research sustainable agricultural processes or practices. ...
  • Research hydrologic features or processes.

What do environmental scientist do? ›

Environmental scientists use their knowledge of the natural sciences to protect the environment. Environmental scientists and specialists use their knowledge of the natural sciences to protect the environment and human health. They may clean up polluted areas, advise policymakers, or work with industry to reduce waste.

Who is the father of soil science? ›

Celebrating the 175th anniversary of Vasily Dokuchaev, the father of soil science. Born in Russia on 1st March 1846, Vasily Vasilyevich Dokuchaev is a very well-known figure to all soil scientists worldwide. As a Professor of Mineralogy and Geology at the St.

What is the study of soil and plants? ›

Pedology (from Greek: πέδον, pedon, "soil"; and λόγος, logos, "study") is a discipline within soil science which focuses on understanding and characterizing soil formation, evolution, and the theoretical frameworks for modeling soil bodies, often in the context of the natural environment.

What are the 2 branches of soil science? ›

This is the conceptual perspective of pedology and edaphology, the two main branches of soil science. Pedology is the study of soil in its natural setting. Edaphology is the study of soil in relation to soil-dependent uses. Both branches apply a combination of soil physics, soil chemistry, and soil biology.

Which country is best for plant science? ›

Best countries to study plant science
  • Plant Science in USA.
  • Plant Science in Ireland.
  • Plant Science in Lebanon.
  • Plant Science in Canada.

How many hours do plant scientist work? ›

The workplace of a plant and soil scientist will vary depending on the field they are employed in. Many spend regular hours (9-5) on the job working in laboratories or offices in the field of applied research.

What are six careers related to the career of a plant scientist? ›

Top jobs in plant science
  • Floral designer.
  • Landscape technician.
  • Horticulturist.
  • Professor.
  • Landscape designer.
  • Crop consultant.
  • Entomologist.
  • Soil scientist.

How much do agriculture jobs pay? ›

The average agriculture salary in South Africa is R 600 000 per year or R 308 per hour. Entry-level positions start at R 318 000 per year, while most experienced workers make up to R 5 400 000 per year.

What is a agricultural scientist? ›

Agricultural and food scientists typically do the following: Conduct research and experiments to improve the productivity and sustainability of field crops and farm animals. Create new food products and develop new and better ways to process, package, and deliver them.

Which job pays highest salary in South Africa? ›

57 of the highest paying jobs in South Africa – with earnings up to R5 million a year
#Job RoleMonthly from
1Executive Management / DirectorR100 000
2Technical / Business ArchitectureR46 500
3IT Project Administration / ManagementR50 000
4Strategy ConsultingR40 000
16 more rows
23 Oct 2022

Is plant biology a good career? ›

Plant science is a growing area and studying plant biology provides a solid scientific foundation to make you employable in a wide range of fields. Our plant biology degrees are great preparation for careers to address complex societal issues involving population growth, food supply, and environmental problems.

Who is a famous botanist? ›

Often regarded as the father of taxonomy, Carl Linnaeus is certainly one of the most famous botanists in history. He may perhaps be one of the most famous scientists, period. Born in Sweden, Linnaeus went on to study botany at Uppsala University.

How long to get a PHD in botany? ›

* Average Duration: 24 months. * Program Structure: 70% textbooks + 30% Thesis. * Admission is open for adults over 27 years of age. * Master's degree or international equivalent (5 years of study) is required for admission.

Do you need to be good at maths to be a botanist? ›

Most entry-level botanists need a bachelor's or master's degree in botany, plant science,biology or closely related field. Advanced research positions usually require a doctoral degree. Botanists should also have strong analytical, mathematical, and critical thinking skills.

What is a garden expert called? ›

Definition of horticulturist

: a person whose work involves growing fruits, vegetables, flowers, or ornamental plants As the city horticulturist for the past six years, Burton has made the parks and city areas of O'Fallon bloom.—

What's the name of a person who grows plants? ›

A person whose hobby or job is growing flowers in a garden is called a gardener. If you want homegrown flowers and veggies, get to know a gardener. If you grow vegetables professionally, you're called a farmer, but if you design, tend, or care for a flower garden, you're a gardener.

How do I start a career in plants? ›

Educational requirements for a career in horticulture typically includes a bachelor's or master's degree in plant science, botany or a related degree.
  1. Arborist. ...
  2. Plant Geneticists. ...
  3. Forest Scientist. ...
  4. Forestry Technician. ...
  5. Logging Crew Member. ...
  6. Bioprocessing Engineer. ...
  7. Irrigation Engineer. ...
  8. Soil Scientists.
9 Nov 2020

What are high paying jobs that deal with plants? ›

22 high-paying jobs that work with plants
  • Horticulturist.
  • Interior designer.
  • Gardener.
  • Landscape designer.
  • Plant videographer.
  • Conservation scientist.
  • Zoologist.
  • Garden writer.
14 Apr 2022

What skills are needed for plant science? ›

We have identified a set of transferable skills that Plant Sciences undergraduates can expect to gain whilst at the Department.
  • Intellectual and Problem Solving Skills. ...
  • Communication Skills. ...
  • Organisational and Interpersonal Skills. ...
  • Research Skills. ...
  • Numeracy and computing. ...
  • Foreign language skills.

Is it hard to become a soil scientist? ›

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.

Where can I work if I study soil science? ›

As a Soil Scientist, you can work in:
  • Environmental consultancies.
  • Research establishments.
  • Commercial and industrial organizations.
  • Universities and other educational institutions.
  • Voluntary or charitable environmental organizations.
  • The Civil Service.
  • Public education centres.
  • Food production companies.

Which subjects are required for soil scientist? ›

Degree: The minimum requirement for a soil scientist is a 4-year BSc (Agric) or a 3-year BSc with Soil Science as major subject.

How much does a soil scientist earn per month? ›

In addition, they earn an average bonus of R10,481. Salary estimates based on salary survey data collected directly from employers and anonymous employees in South Africa. An entry level soil scientist (1-3 years of experience) earns an average salary of R343,747.

Is there a demand for soil scientists? ›

There's going to be a strong demand in coming years for graduates to fill these positions.” The field of soil science is the study, analysis, and recommendation of soils for appropriate land use. The field usually diverges into two specialties – agricultural soils and environmental soils.

What do soil and plant scientists do? ›

Conduct research in breeding, physiology, production, yield, and management of crops and agricultural plants or trees, shrubs, and nursery stock, their growth in soils, and control of pests; or study the chemical, physical, biological, and mineralogical composition of soils as they relate to plant or crop growth.

What is it like being a soil scientist? ›

This career includes many different assignments and involves making recommendations about many resource areas. A soil scientist needs good observation skills to be able to analyze and determine the characteristics of different types of soils.

What career works with dirt? ›

Soil Science
  • Agricultural Product Salesperson.
  • Agro geologist.
  • Agronomist.
  • Cooperative Extension Agent.
  • Engineering Technician.
  • Environmental Engineer.
  • Farm Advisor.
  • Hazardous Waste Specialist.

Is soil science a professional course? ›

Career prospects for graduates in Soil Science include: horticulture consultant, as well as farm manager, plant geneticist and conservation planner. Professionals also work in the landscape business, soil technical audit and in the food production industry.

How many points is Soil Science? ›

Final Grade 12 marks of at least 60% for Mathematics and 60% for Physical Sciences.

What is BSC in soil and water management? ›

Soil and Water Management

In the field of Soil and Water Management, you are trained to understand the nature, importance and management of soil and water as they relate to crop production and enviromental management. You can major in Soil Science and either Agronomy, Chemistry, Horticulture or Grapevine Science.

Why is soil studied in agriculture? ›

They give advice on what nutrients the soil needs, when to use them and how to protect the waterways around their farm.

What is the highest paying occupation? ›

Highest Paying Occupations
OCCUPATION2021 MEDIAN PAY
AnesthesiologistsThis wage is equal to or greater than $208,000 per year
OrthodontistsThis wage is equal to or greater than $208,000 per year
Oral and maxillofacial surgeonsThis wage is equal to or greater than $208,000 per year
17 more rows
8 Sept 2022

Who is Father of soil science? ›

Celebrating the 175th anniversary of Vasily Dokuchaev, the father of soil science. Born in Russia on 1st March 1846, Vasily Vasilyevich Dokuchaev is a very well-known figure to all soil scientists worldwide. As a Professor of Mineralogy and Geology at the St.

How do you become a soil microbiologist? ›

There are several education requirements to become a microbiology soil scientist. Microbiology soil scientists usually study biology, microbiology or biochemistry, biophysics, molecular biology. 69% of microbiology soil scientists hold a bachelor's degree and 15% hold a master's degree.

Videos

1. Watch this video if you want to study Soil Science | Stellenbosch University
(Stellenbosch University AgriSciences)
2. Occupational Video - Soil Scientist
(alisWebsite)
3. Plant root systems - the key to soil resources
(Forschungszentrum Jülich)
4. Rapidly Rebuild Your Soil Health Part 4: Become a Soil Health Expert!
(Dr. Elaine's Soil Food Web School)
5. STEAM Series: Plant Scientist
(CBS Los Angeles)
6. Biophysics of Soil Plant Systems with Arden Andersen
(Advancing Eco Agriculture)

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