Career Details
Career Details
Back to top

Career Details

19-1013.00 - Soil and Plant Scientists

Conduct research in breeding, physiology, production, yield, and management of crops and agricultural plants or trees, shrubs, and nursery stock, their growth in soils, and control of pests; or study the chemical, physical, biological, and mineralogical composition of soils as they relate to plant or crop growth. May classify and map soils and investigate effects of alternative practices on soil and crop productivity.

Key Facts
Expand or Shrink Accordion
Bright Outlook
Career Details
Green Job
Career Details
Current Employment
Forecasted Employment
Change in Employment
Change in Employment %
Expand or Shrink Accordion
The tasks listed below can be performed to prepare you for a career in this field.
  • Communicate research or project results to other professionals or the public or teach related courses, seminars, or workshops.
  • Provide information or recommendations to farmers or other landowners regarding ways in which they can best use land, promote plant growth, or avoid or correct problems such as erosion.
  • Investigate responses of soils to specific management practices to determine the use capabilities of soils and the effects of alternative practices on soil productivity.
  • Develop methods of conserving or managing soil that can be applied by farmers or forestry companies.
  • Conduct experiments to develop new or improved varieties of field crops, focusing on characteristics such as yield, quality, disease resistance, nutritional value, or adaptation to specific soils or climates.
  • Investigate soil problems or poor water quality to determine sources and effects.
  • Study soil characteristics to classify soils on the basis of factors such as geographic location, landscape position, or soil properties.
  • Develop improved measurement techniques, soil conservation methods, soil sampling devices, or related technology.
  • Conduct experiments investigating how soil forms, changes, or interacts with land-based ecosystems or living organisms.
  • Identify degraded or contaminated soils and develop plans to improve their chemical, biological, or physical characteristics.
  • Perform chemical analyses of the microorganism content of soils to determine microbial reactions or chemical mineralogical relationships to plant growth.
  • Provide advice regarding the development of regulatory standards for land reclamation or soil conservation.
  • Develop new or improved methods or products for controlling or eliminating weeds, crop diseases, or insect pests.
  • Conduct research to determine best methods of planting, spraying, cultivating, harvesting, storing, processing, or transporting horticultural products.
  • Consult with engineers or other technical personnel working on construction projects about the effects of soil problems and possible solutions to these problems.
  • Develop ways of altering soils to suit different types of plants.
  • Develop environmentally safe methods or products for controlling or eliminating weeds, crop diseases, or pests.
  • Study ways to improve agricultural sustainability, such as the use of new methods of composting.
  • Conduct experiments to investigate the underlying mechanisms of plant growth and response to the environment.
  • Survey undisturbed or disturbed lands for classification, inventory, mapping, environmental impact assessments, environmental protection planning, conservation planning, or reclamation planning.
  • Study insect distribution or habitat and recommend methods to prevent importation or spread of injurious species.
  • Identify or classify species of insects or allied forms, such as mites or spiders.
  • Conduct experiments regarding causes of bee diseases or factors affecting yields of nectar or pollen.
  • Conduct research into the use of plant species as green fuels or in the production of green fuels.
  • Research technical requirements or environmental impacts of urban green spaces, such as green roof installations.
  • Plan or supervise waste management programs for composting or farming.
  • Plan or supervise land conservation or reclamation programs for industrial development projects.
All data sourced from US Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration O*Net Database.
Expand or Shrink Accordion

The items listed below are organized into sections that contain knowledge useful for pursuing a career in this field. Each section also contains a "Percentage of Importance" statistic that shows how relevant an item is to the occupation.
  • 89%
    Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
 English Language
  • 81%
    Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
 Computers and Electronics
  • 77%
    Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • 77%
    Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
  • 75%
    Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
 Education and Training
  • 68%
    Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • 68%
    Knowledge of principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life.
 Communications and Media
  • 67%
    Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.
 Engineering and Technology
  • 64%
    Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
 Administration and Management
  • 63%
    Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
  • 63%
    Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
 Customer and Personal Service
  • 60%
    Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
 Food Production
  • 59%
    Knowledge of techniques and equipment for planting, growing, and harvesting food products (both plant and animal) for consumption, including storage/handling techniques.
 Law and Government
  • 57%
    Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
  • 56%
    Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
  • 56%
    Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
  • 54%
    Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
 Production and Processing
  • 52%
    Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
 Personnel and Human Resources
  • 51%
    Knowledge of principles and procedures for personnel recruitment, selection, training, compensation and benefits, labor relations and negotiation, and personnel information systems.
 Public Safety and Security
  • 51%
    Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
  • 50%
    Knowledge of transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.
All data sourced from US Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration O*Net Database.
Expand or Shrink Accordion
The tools listed below include machines, equipment, tools, and software that is useful for individuals who are interested in this career.
 Laboratory baths
  • Circulating water baths
  • Hot water shaking baths
  • Reciprocating shaker water baths
 Laboratory centrifuges and accessories
  • High speed centrifuges
  • Refrigerated microfuges
 Sampling equipment
  • Sample containers
 Laboratory incubating equipment
  • Cell tissue culture incubators
 Laboratory ovens and accessories
  • Laboratory drying ovens
 Laboratory furnaces and accessories
  • Laboratory muffle furnaces
 Laboratory electrophoresis and blotting system and supplies
  • Gel dryers
  • Gel documentation systems
  • Gel electrophoresis systems
 Viewing and observing instruments and accessories
  • Electron microscopes
  • Epifluorescence microscopes
  • Polarizing microscopes
 Temperature and heat measuring instruments
  • Thermocouples
  • Soil thermometers
 Humidity and moisture measuring instruments
  • Psychrometers
  • Soil moisture neutron probes
 Chemical evaluation instruments and supplies
  • Soil analysis hydrometers
  • Osmometers
  • Microtiter plate readers
 Gas analyzers and monitors
  • Infrared gas analyzers
 Soil measuring equipment
  • Laser particle sizers
  • Porometers
  • Calibrated soil scoops
  • Soil augers
  • Heat flux plates
 Radar and sonar systems and components
  • Ground penetrating radar GPR
  • Light detection and ranging LIDAR systems
  • Synthetic aperture radar SAR
 Light and wave generating and measuring equipment
  • Canopy analyzers
  • Flame photometers
  • Luminometers
  • Colorimeters
  • Infrared cameras
 Spectroscopic equipment
  • Fluorimeters
  • X ray fluorescence XRF spectrometers
  • Gamma ray spectrometers
  • Mass spectrometers
  • Spectrophotometers
  • Atomic absorption AA spectrometers
  • Inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometers ICP-AES
 Electrochemical measuring instruments and accessories
  • Digital pH meters
  • pH indicators
  • Conductivity meters
 Test Tubes
  • Laboratory test tubes
 General laboratory glassware and plasticware and supplies
  • Glass beakers
  • Erlenmeyer flasks
  • Glass flasks
  • Graduated glass cylinders
  • Laptop computers
  • Personal digital assistants PDA
  • Desktop computers
  • Personal computers
  • Digital cameras
 Audio and visual equipment
  • Global positioning system GPS receivers
All data sourced from US Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration O*Net Database.
Expand or Shrink Accordion
The technologies listed below include machines, equipment, tools, and software that is useful for individuals who are interested in this career.
 Content authoring and editing software
  • Microsoft WordHOT
  • Word processing software
  • Microsoft PowerPointHOT
  • Microsoft ExcelHOT
 Data management and query software
  • GAEA Technologies WinSieve
  • Microsoft AccessHOT
  • National Resources Conservation Service NRCS PEDON Description Program PDP
  • National Resources Conservation Service NRCS Soils Explorer
  • National Soil Information System NASIS
  • PedonCE
  • Soil information databases
  • SoilVision Systems SVOFFICE
 Development software
  • RHOT
  • Microsoft Active Server Pages ASPHOT
 Industry specific software
  • Autodesk AutoCADHOT
  • 3dMapper
  • Erosion Productivity Impact Calculator EPIC
  • European Soil Erosion Model EUROSEM
  • Gstat
  • IBM SPSS StatisticsHOT
  • LandSerf
  • PC-Progress HYDRUS
  • S-GeMS
  • SPAW
  • Variogram Estimation and Spatial Prediction plus Error Vesper
  • Water Erosion Prediction Project WEPP
 Information exchange software
  • ESRI ArcGIS softwareHOT
  • Geographic information system GIS softwareHOT
  • Leica Geosystems ERDAS IMAGINE
All data sourced from US Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration O*Net Database.
Expand or Shrink Accordion
The certifications listed below are useful to pursue if you are interested in a career in this field.
All data sourced from US Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration O*Net Database.
Expand or Shrink Accordion
The licensing information below is organized into sections and is useful for pursuing if you are interested in a career in this field.
No specific licensing information is listed for this occupation in the area you have selected.
All data sourced from US Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration O*Net Database.
Related Programs
Expand or Shrink Accordion
Programs related to this career, offered by participating institution(s), are listed below.

Clicking on the Degree programs in the list below will take you away from the Careers page.
Brightpoint Community College
Eastern Shore Community College
Germanna Community College
J Sargeant Reynolds Community College
Northern Virginia Community College
Paul D. Camp Community College
Tidewater Community College
Virginia Highlands Community College
Virginia Peninsula Community College
Virginia Western Community College
Wytheville Community College
Expand or Shrink Accordion
Jobs related to this career may be found on or on the Google Job Search page.