Summary Report for:
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.
Sample of reported job titles: Agronomist, Agronomy Research Manager, Agronomy Specialist, Crop Nutrition Scientist, Microbiology Soil Scientist, Research Soil Scientist, Soil Classifier/Soil Scientist, Soil Fertility Extension Specialist, Soil Scientist, Supervisory Research Geneticist (Plants)
Tasks | Tools & Technology | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- 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.
- Communicate research or project results to other professionals or the public or teach related courses, seminars, or workshops.
- 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.
- 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 investigating how soil forms, changes, or interacts with land-based ecosystems or living organisms.
- Conduct research to determine best methods of planting, spraying, cultivating, harvesting, storing, processing, or transporting horticultural products.
- Develop new or improved methods or products for controlling or eliminating weeds, crop diseases, or insect pests.
Tools & Technology
Tools used in this occupation:
|Laboratory flasks — Erlenmeyer flasks; Glass flasks|
|pH meters — Digital pH meters; pH indicators|
|Photometers — Flame photometers; Luminometers|
|Radarbased surveillance systems — Ground penetrating radar GPR; Light detection and ranging LIDAR systems; Synthetic aperture radar SAR|
|Spectrofluorimeters or fluorimeters — Fluorimeters; X ray fluorescence XRF spectrometers|
Technology used in this occupation:
|Analytical or scientific software — European Soil Erosion Model EUROSEM; PC-Progress HYDRUS; Variogram Estimation and Spatial Prediction plus Error Vesper *; Water Erosion Prediction Project WEPP *|
|Categorization or classification software — GAEA Technologies WinSieve|
|Data base user interface and query software — National Resources Conservation Service NRCS PEDON Description Program PDP *; National Soil Information System NASIS *; PedonCE *; SoilVision Systems SoilVision software|
|Map creation software — ESRI ArcGIS software; GIS software; Leica Geosystems ERDAS IMAGINE|
|Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel|
* Software developed by a government agency and/or distributed as freeware or shareware.
|Biology — Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.|
|English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.|
|Chemistry — 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.|
|Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.|
|Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.|
|Education and Training — Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.|
|Geography — 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.|
|Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.|
|Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.|
|Science — Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.|
|Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.|
|Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.|
|Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.|
|Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.|
|Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.|
|Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.|
|Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.|
|Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.|
|Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.|
|Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).|
|Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.|
|Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.|
|Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.|
|Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.|
|Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).|
|Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.|
|Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.|
|Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.|
|Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.|
|Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.|
|Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.|
|Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.|
|Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.|
|Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.|
|Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.|
|Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.|
|Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.|
|Electronic Mail — How often do you use electronic mail in this job?|
|Telephone — How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?|
|Face-to-Face Discussions — How often do you have to have face-to-face discussions with individuals or teams in this job?|
|Freedom to Make Decisions — How much decision making freedom, without supervision, does the job offer?|
|Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — How important is being very exact or highly accurate in performing this job?|
|Structured versus Unstructured Work — To what extent is this job structured for the worker, rather than allowing the worker to determine tasks, priorities, and goals?|
|Contact With Others — How much does this job require the worker to be in contact with others (face-to-face, by telephone, or otherwise) in order to perform it?|
|Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — How often does this job require working indoors in environmentally controlled conditions?|
|Work With Work Group or Team — How important is it to work with others in a group or team in this job?|
|Duration of Typical Work Week — Number of hours typically worked in one week.|
|Title||Job Zone Five: Extensive Preparation Needed|
|Education||Most of these occupations require graduate school. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D. (law degree).|
|Related Experience||Extensive skill, knowledge, and experience are needed for these occupations. Many require more than five years of experience. For example, surgeons must complete four years of college and an additional five to seven years of specialized medical training to be able to do their job.|
|Job Training||Employees may need some on-the-job training, but most of these occupations assume that the person will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.|
|Job Zone Examples||These occupations often involve coordinating, training, supervising, or managing the activities of others to accomplish goals. Very advanced communication and organizational skills are required. Examples include librarians, lawyers, aerospace engineers, wildlife biologists, school psychologists, surgeons, treasurers, and controllers.|
|SVP Range||(8.0 and above)|
There is 1 recognized apprenticeable specialty associated with this occupation:
To learn about specific apprenticeship opportunities, please consult the U.S. Department of Labor State Apprenticeship Information website.
For general information about apprenticeships, training, and partnerships with business, visit the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship website.
Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
|36||Doctoral or professional degree|
This occupation may require a background in the following science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) educational disciplines:
Interest code: IR
|Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.|
|Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.|
|Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.|
|Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.|
|Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.|
|Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.|
|Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.|
|Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.|
|Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.|
|Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.|
|Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.|
|Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.|
|Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.|
|Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.|
|Recognition — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status.|
|19-1012.00||Food Scientists and Technologists|
|19-1023.00||Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists Green|
|19-1031.01||Soil and Water Conservationists|
|19-2041.00||Environmental Scientists and Specialists, Including Health|
|25-1041.00||Agricultural Sciences Teachers, Postsecondary|
|25-1043.00||Forestry and Conservation Science Teachers, Postsecondary|
|25-9021.00||Farm and Home Management Advisors|
Wages & Employment Trends
|Median wages (2012)||$28.24 hourly, $58,740 annual|
|Employment (2012)||16,000 employees|
|Projected growth (2012-2022)||Average (8% to 14%)|
|Projected job openings (2012-2022)||6,700|
|Top industries (2012)|
State & National
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2012 wage data and 2012-2022 employment projections . "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2012-2022). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.
Job Openings on the Web
for Soil and Plant Scientists
State & National Job Banks
Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- Agricultural and Food Scientists . Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition.
- American Society of Agronomy (ASA) , 5585 Guildford Rd., Madison, WI 53711. Phone: (608) 273-8080. Fax: (608) 273-2021.
- Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) , 5585 Guildford Rd., Madison, WI 53711. Phone: (608) 273-8080. Fax: (608) 273-2021.
- Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) , 5585 Guildford Rd., Madison, WI 53711. Phone: (608) 273-8080. Fax: (608) 273-2021.