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Soil and Plant Scientist Jobs, Training, and Salary Information

Updated on January 27, 2012

Soil and plant scientists perform research to improve the use of soil and other matter for growing crops and plants. There are a few thousand of these high-paying jobs in the United States for qualified scientists with the proper training and education.

As a fairly small group of scientists, those getting a job in this field tend to have a high degree of training and education. Students should be looking to earn at least a bachelor's degree, and some of the high-prestige and well-paying research jobs can even require a doctorate.

The major field of study for future plant and soil scientists is agricultural science. This is a rather broad field with a wide array of course offerings. Examples of classes that an aspiring soil scientist should take include soil chemistry, while future plant-science experts generally take courses like entomology and plant physiology. Other, more common, classes (such as chemistry, biology, and biochemistry) are also generally part of a major program of study in agricultural science.

There are also some universities that offer a bachelor's or master's degree specifically for plant science or soil science. An example is Fresno State University's Department of Plant Science. Another example is Washington State University, which offers both master's and Ph.D. degrees in soil science.

As of May 2010, there were 12,120 jobs for soil and plant scientists in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They were earning an average (median) salary of about $57,000.

Major employers of plant and soil scientists are firms doing research and development, universities, the federal government, wholesalers of miscellaneous nondurable goods (like plants, seeds, and soil), and scientific consulting firms.

Resources:

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Jobs and Salary for Soil and Plant Scientists

Fresno State University: Department of Plant Science

Washington State University Soil Science Degrees

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