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Soil Science

This concentration prepares students for work on agricultural and natural ecosystems by learning to identify, understand, and manage soils in agriculture and forestry in an environmentally responsible way. Graduates with soils training can choose from a range of excellent professional opportunities and challenging careers, including those with government agencies.  

Summary:

Soil science is the science that deals with soils as a natural resource on the surface of the Earth including soil formation, classification, and mapping; physical, chemical, biological, and fertility properties of soils; and these properties in relation to the use and management of the soils. Soil scientists work for the federal and state governments, universities, and the private sector. The job of a soil scientist includes collection of soil data, consultation, investigation, evaluation, interpretation, planning or inspection relating to soil science. A career path in soil includes many different assignments and involves making recommendations about many resource areas.

Why choose a career in Soil Sciences?

Soil is interesting and important! Learning the taxonomy of dirt looks similar is exciting, as well as discovering the competitive chemical and physical processes under their dormant appearance. Being an expertise in soil gives you the opportunity to support agricultural production, landscape management, or even help to address global warming issues, as soils play multiple roles in the quality of life throughout the world. Soils are not only a resource for food production, but they are the support for our structures, the medium for waste disposal, they maintain our playgrounds, distribute and store water and nutrients, and support our environment. They support more life beneath their surface than exists above.Choosing a career in soil means choosing work on something that influences the worldwide distribution of plants, animals, and people.

Examples of careers and jobs:

Fields:

  • Agriculture, horticulture and forestry
  • Environmental protection and management
  • Land use planning and site remediation
  • Education and research
  • National and international policy formulation

Employers:

  • Federal agencies
  • State conservation agencies
  • Universities    
  • Private industry
  • Regulatory bodies

Types of Work:

  • Site remediation
  • Soil surveying / soil classification
  • Land reclamation and waste disposal
  • Research    
  • Conduct environmental impact studies
  • Consulting

Job Titles:

  • Soil conservationist
  • Soil microbiologist
  • Soil ecologist
  • Soil chemist    
  • Soil scientist
  • Land-use specialist
  • Soil physicist
  • Natural resource manager

Salaries:

Intermediate (Bachelor’s or Master’s): $45,000 - $95,000
Advanced (Master’s or PhD): $70,000 - $150,000

Preparations for a career in soil:

Education: Education that provides specialized knowledge and skills in soil and water conservation is more valuable than an education that imparts broad but general knowledge and skills. Courses in soil fertility, soil chemistry, soil genesis, plant physiology, plant science, and field crops are examples of specialized courses. Courses in the physical sciences or engineering such as geology, civil engineering, and hydrology also meet the soils, crops, or plant science course requirements where such courses include a complete introduction to the physical, chemical, and biological properties of soils.

Experience: Experience that includes the application of techniques, principles, and methods from a variety of agricultural and natural resource fields is appropriate, given the interdisciplinary character of the soil conservation occupation. For example, experience gained in a specialized field such as soil science, forestry, or agronomy is as fully acceptable as experience directly obtained in soil conservation work.

Supplementary Courses:

PLSCS 2600 (Soil Science)
PLSCS 3210 (Soil & Crop Management for Sustainability)
PLSCS 3620 (Soil Morphology)