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Soil Technician: Job Description and Career Advancement Info

Sep 18, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a soil technician. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about education options, responsibilities and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you.

A soil technician works on a team of conservation scientists, where they are largely responsible for collecting and analyzing data, taking measurements, and carrying out conservation strategies in order to improve the condition of soil. Lower level technicians generally have an associate's degree, while securing more advanced positions may require a graduate degree, professional certification, or work experience.

Essential Information

Soil technicians are members of conservation teams that improve soil quality and implement sustainable land-use techniques. They survey land and apply irrigation and farming measures that reduce erosion and waste. Individuals can advance by gaining work experience, completing graduate degree programs and earning professional certifications.

Education Requirements Associate degree
Other Requirements Certification options available
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* -3% for all forest and conservation workers
Average Salary (2018)* $40,110 for all forest and conservation technicians

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description for a Soil Technician

Soil technicians help conservation scientists manage or restore land that's been adversely affected by farming or development. They gather data, develop conservation plans and implement measures to improve soil condition. Their job is primarily in support of a supervising conservationist or soil specialist, though technicians can have increased responsibilities as they gain experience.

As science professionals, soil technicians can work in different fields of conservation. Options include teaching farmers sustainable planting and irrigation techniques, drafting environmental impact reports for land developers and restoring wetlands damaged by waste runoff.

Duties

Technicians perform many of the data collection duties that inform a conservationist's development plans. They perform surveys, analyze soil content, take measurements and maintain activity records. They also perform implementation duties, such as terracing or tree planting, and monitor the effectiveness of conservation measures.

Additional duties include visiting with landowners and revising conservation plans to meet budgets. Some technicians may conduct lectures for schools, perform demonstrations for landowners and supervise the work of other conservation workers.

Career Advancement Info for a Soil Technician

Typically, the minimum requirement for entry-level technician positions is the completion of an associate degree program in soil science, environmental science or a related field. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service, a soil science education prepares students for a career in agriculture, while environmental science programs lead toward a career dealing with waste disposal and water quality issues (nrcs.usda.gov).

Chances for advancement to supervisory and management positions can be increased for those who complete at least a bachelor's degree program or higher. Faculty and chief research positions may require the completion of a master's or doctoral degree program.

Professional certifications are not required, but can increase advancement opportunities by demonstrating an individual's knowledge and experience. Organizations offering soil conservation or related environmental certification programs include the Association of Boards of Certification, the National Registry of Environmental Professionals and the Soil Science Society of America.

Typically, soil technicians must satisfy a combined education and work experience requirement to be eligible for certification, such as a bachelor's degree with five years of work experience or a master's degree with three years of work experience. Soil technicians must then pass at least one exam to earn the credential.

Salary and Job Outlook

Soil technicians are part of the larger occupational group of forest and conservation technicians. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that employment for forest and conservation workers would decrease by 3% over the 2018-2028 decade. The BLS reported that forest and conservation technicians made an average annual salary of $40,110 as of May 2018.

There are a number of different conservation fields that a soil technician might work in, some of which include farming, environmental reporting, and restoration. Various organizations offer certification for eligible soil technicians who have completed education and working requirements. Professional certification is not necessary, but it may help with future career advancement.

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