Soil Conservationists and Technicians
About 70 percent of all conservation scientists are employed by local, state, and federal government agencies. At the federal level, most soil conservationists and technicians work for the Natural Resource Conservation Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Reclamation. Others work for agencies at the state and county level. Soil conservationists and technicians also work for private agencies and firms such as banks and loan agencies, mining or steel companies, and public utilities. A small percentage of workers are self-employed consultants that advise private industry owners and government agencies.
Most students gain outside experience by working a summer job in their area of interest. You can get information on summer positions through your school's career services office. Often, contacts made on summer jobs lead to permanent employment after graduation. College career counselors and faculty members are often valuable sources of advice and information in finding employment.
Most soil conservationists and technicians find work with state, county, or federal agencies. Hiring procedures for these jobs vary according to the level of government in which the applicant is seeking work. In general, however, students begin the application procedure during the fourth semester of their program and take some form of competitive examination as part of the process. College career services office personnel can help students find out about the application procedures. Representatives of government agencies often visit college campuses to explain employment opportunities to students and sometimes to recruit for their agencies.
Soil conservationists and technicians usually start out with a local conservation district to gain experience and expertise before advancing to the state, regional, or national level.
In many cases, technicians hoping to advance their careers continue their education while working by taking evening courses at a local college or technical institute. Federal agencies that employ conservationists and technicians have a policy of promotion from within. Because of this policy, there is a continuing opportunity for such workers to advance through the ranks. The degree of advancement that all conservationists and technicians can expect in their working careers is determined by their aptitudes, abilities, and, of course, their desire to advance.
Workers seeking a more dramatic change can transfer their skills to related jobs outside the conservation industry, such as farming or land appraisal.
Tips for Entry
To learn more about the field, read:
- Journal of Soil and Water Conservation (https://www.jswconline.org)
- Soil Science Society of America Journal (https://acsess.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/14350661)
- Crops & Soils (https://acsess.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/23253606?tabActivePane=)
Visit the following Web sites for job listings: https://swcs.careerwebsite.com and https://www.careerplacement.org.
Join the Soil and Water Conservation Society and other professional associations to access training and networking resources, industry publications, and employment opportunities.