Soil Conservationists and Technicians


Education and Training Requirements

High School

While in high school, you should take at least one year each of algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. Take several years of English to develop your writing, research, and speaking skills as these are skills you will need when compiling reports and working with others. Science classes, of course, are important to take, including earth science, biology, and chemistry. If your high school offers agriculture classes, be sure to take any relating to land use, crop production, and soils.

Postsecondary Training

Conservationists hold bachelor degrees in areas such as general agriculture, range management, crop or soil science, forestry, and agricultural engineering. Teaching and research positions require further graduate level education in a natural resources field. Though government jobs do not necessarily require a college degree (a combination of appropriate experience and education can serve as substitute), a college education can make you more desirable for a position. Technicians typically hold an associate's degrees or a certificate in applied science or science-related technology.

Typical beginning courses include applied mathematics, communication skills, basic soils, botany, chemistry, zoology, and introduction to range management. Advanced courses include American government, surveying, forestry, game management, soil and water conservation, economics, fish management, and conservation engineering.

Visit for a list of colleges and universities that offer courses and degrees in soil science, agronomy, crop science, and environmental science.

Other Education or Training

Participating in continuing education (CE) classes is a great way to keep your skills up to date and learn about new developments in soil conservation; CE credits may also be required to renew your certification. The Soil and Water Conservation Society offers professional development opportunities at its annual conference and at other events. Past offerings included "Communicating Effectively with Social Media" and "Water Erosion Prediction Project Model Application." The American Society of Agronomy and the Soil Science Society of America also provide CE opportunities. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

No certification or license is required of soil conservationists and technicians; however, becoming certified can improve your skills and professional standing. The American Society of Agronomy offers voluntary certification in soil science. Most government agencies require applicants to take a competitive examination for consideration.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Conservationists and technicians must have some practical experience in the use of soil conservation techniques before they enter the field. Many schools require students to work in the field during the school year or during summer vacation before they can be awarded their degree. Jobs are available in the federal park systems and with privately owned industries.

Soil conservationists and technicians must be able to apply practical as well as theoretical knowledge to their work. You must have a working knowledge of soil and water characteristics; be skilled in management of woodlands, wildlife areas, and recreation areas; and have knowledge of surveying instruments and practices, mapping, and the procedures used for interpreting aerial photographs.

Soil conservationists and technicians should also be able to write clear, concise reports to demonstrate and explain the results of tests, studies, and recommendations. A love for the outdoors and an appreciation for all natural resources are essential for success and personal fulfillment in this job.