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Soil science is ideal for anyone interested in the processes and preservation of the environment at its most fundamental levels. This science study examines the upper levels of the earth’s crust in an effort to understand the benefits, characteristics and abnormalities of soils.
Colleges, universities and technical institutions all offer in-depth soil science courses. These programs may even be studied online. Students who choose to study in this way can earn an associate, bachelor, master or doctorate in soil science. It is possible, though not always common, that a post-secondary school soil science study may come under a more specific area, such as pedology.
There are many other private educational programs, soil science societies, professional organizations, non-profit initiatives and environmental agencies that will offer small workshops in soil science. These workshops are typically short and more general in their content than traditional higher educations programs. Sometimes, national parks or farms will provide soil science related apprenticeships or volunteer work.
Skills, Qualifications, and Prerequisites for Studies in Soil Sciences
Post-secondary educational institutions will ask applicants to meet certain admission requirements, before undergoing a soil science study course. This usually means completing secondary school and passing some for of aptitude test or entrance exam.
Prerequisites for workshops, apprenticeships and volunteer work will vary depending on the offer. Some will have no prerequisites (especially if they are volunteer work) while others may require a degree or a number of college credits.
It is important that students pursuing soil science already have a solid foundation in science studies (especially environmental science, if possible). Since a vast majority of soil science careers involve environmental fieldwork, candidates should enjoy being outdoors and working with their hands. A love for nature and a drive towards conservation practices are ideal.
Other helpful skills for soil science students include:
- Effective problem-solving skills.
- Communication skills.
- Ability to work well on a team.
- Mathematical, map-reading and other common sense skills.
Skills and Qualifications Acquired from Studies in Soil Sciences
Students in soil science also tend to study in areas like agrology or edaphology, with soil science as an overarching focus. Typically, a soil science course will provide skills and knowledge in the following areas:
- Origin and classification of soils and minerals.
- Physical properties and characteristics of soils.
- Chemical characteristics of soils.
- Effect of soil types on plants, humans and the environment.
- Environmental chemistry (including water and air).
- Soil nutrition and biology.
- Soil interactions with other materials (water, etc.).
- Geography of different soils (along with the effect of geography on soil).
- Soil contamination types, causes and treatments.
- Soil effects on agricultural systems.
- Some micro-organic study.
- Soil sample processing, testing and data recording.
- Soil sample testing equipment; uses and functions.
Careers for Studies in Soil Sciences
Soil scientists work for a variety of industries, from government agencies to private companies. They may test soil and water quality, partner with conservation projects, landscape areas or evaluate construction, agricultural and preservation sites. Soil research labs exist for environmental agencies, universities and private industries. Sometimes these scientists map, research and interpret areas to provide federal or private statistical data. These graduates may even become farmers, government agents, professors or park maintenance crewmembers.