Soil science is more than simply the study of soil. This discipline focuses on the improvement of soil conditions for agricultural management and the conservation of natural resources. If you're interested in soil science, read on to learn about educational and career options in the field.
Inside Soil Science
Soil is a complex composite of minerals and organic matter that forms over the surface of land. Soil scientists research and monitor the properties of soils, including their physical attributes, biological composition and chemical makeup. Soil scientists use their findings to help solve a wide range of soil management issues. They might, for example, determine the best crops to grow in a specific soil at a given place and time. Soil scientists might also work to replenish endangered ecosystems by finding ways to increase soil fertility. Soil scientists often work for manufacturing companies, government agricultural departments and research laboratories. A large number of soil scientists are self-employed consultants.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that entry-level positions in soil science typically entail bachelor's degrees in agricultural science, soil science or another relevant major (www.bls.gov). In addition to coursework in math and the natural sciences, soil science students may take courses in soil conservation and fertility, entomology, agronomy and crop physiology. Advanced positions in the field, such as in research or academic roles, typically require a graduate degree. Depending on the state, soil scientists may be required to obtain state licensure.
Take a look at the following articles from Study.com to further explore education programs in soil science and related fields of study.
- Soil Science Degrees by Level
- Soil Conservation Degrees and Certificates
- Geotechnical Engineering Master's Degree
- Bachelor's Degree in Agriculture
Distance Learning Options
While soil science education generally entails hands-on experience in the lab, there are distance learning options available in related disciplines. You might also become familiar with the field through free online courses in topics related to soil science.
- Online Associate's Degree in Environmental Science
- Online Soil Physics
- Online Soil Conservation Courses
- Online Agriculture Courses
- Free Online Earth Science Courses
Soil scientists work in many different employment sectors and fulfill a variety of roles. Whether you want to work in conservation or agricultural production, these articles will help you sort through some of the career options in the field.
- Soil Scientist
- Soil Pedologist
- Soil Conservation Technician
- Agricultural Research Scientist
Although overall employment growth of agricultural and food scientists is expected to be average at nine percent, soil and plant scientists face a lower job growth of eight percent in the 2012-2022 decade, according to the BLS. The needs of private industry are expected to drive demand for these scientists. In May 2013, the BLS reported that the mean annual wage for soil and plant scientists was $62,830.
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