Soil and Plant Scientists
SOC: 19-1013.00


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.

National Salary Information:

Hourly Statistics:

Annual Statistics:

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015 wage data.

Employment Projections:

Employment (2014):
17,700 employed

Projected (2024):
18,900 employed

Projected growth (2014-2024)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015 2014-2024 employment projections external site. "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2014-2024). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.

Alternate Titles:

  • Agriculturist
  • Agronomist
  • Agronomy Research Manager
  • Agronomy Specialist
  • Apiculturist
  • Arboreal Scientist
  • Arboriculturist
  • Arborist
  • Botanist
  • Corn Breeder
  • Cotton Breeder
  • Crop Nutrition Scientist
  • Entomologist
  • Extension Specialist
  • Field Research Assistant
  • Floriculturist
  • Horticulturist
  • Hybrid Corn Breeder
  • Microbiology Soil Scientist
  • On-Site Soil Evaluator
  • Plant Anatomist
  • Plant Breeder
  • Plant Breeder Scientist
  • Plant Pathologist
  • Plant Physiologist
  • Pomologist
  • Research Soil Scientist
  • Scientist Propagator
  • Soil Expert
  • Soil Fertility Extension Specialist
  • Soil Scientist
  • Soil Specialist
  • Technical Agronomist
  • Viticulturist
  • Wholesale Agronomist

  • Job Zone Five: Extensive Preparation Needed


    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.


    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).

    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.

    Required Skills:

  • Reading Comprehension
  • Active Listening
  • Writing
  • Speaking
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Critical Thinking
  • Active Learning
  • Learning Strategies
  • Monitoring
  • Social Perceptiveness
  • Coordination
  • Persuasion
  • Negotiation
  • Instructing
  • Service Orientation
  • Complex Problem Solving
  • Operations Analysis
  • Technology Design
  • Programming
  • Operation Monitoring
  • Operation and Control
  • Troubleshooting
  • Quality Control Analysis
  • Judgment and Decision Making
  • Systems Analysis
  • Systems Evaluation
  • Time Management
  • Management of Financial Resources
  • Management of Material Resources
  • Management of Personnel Resources

  • Knowledge Used:

  • Administration and Management
  • Clerical
  • Economics and Accounting
  • Sales and Marketing
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Personnel and Human Resources
  • Production and Processing
  • Food Production
  • Computers and Electronics
  • Engineering and Technology
  • Design
  • Building and Construction
  • Mechanical
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Psychology
  • Sociology and Anthropology
  • Geography
  • Education and Training
  • English Language
  • Foreign Language
  • History and Archeology
  • Philosophy and Theology
  • Public Safety and Security
  • Law and Government
  • Telecommunications
  • Communications and Media
  • Transportation

  • Tasks:

  • 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.
  • Survey undisturbed or disturbed lands for classification, inventory, mapping, environmental impact assessments, environmental protection planning, conservation planning, or reclamation planning.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Develop environmentally safe methods or products for controlling or eliminating weeds, crop diseases, or insect pests.
  • Investigate responses of soils to specific management practices to determine the effects of alternative practices on the environment.
  • Research technical requirements or environmental impacts of urban green spaces, such as green roof installations.
  • Study ways to improve agricultural sustainability, such as the use of new methods of composting.
  • Plan or supervise waste management programs for composting or farming.
  • Plan or supervise land conservation or reclamation programs for industrial development projects.

  • Tools & Technology:

  • Atomic absorption AA spectrometers
  • Autosamplers
  • Calibrated soil scoops
  • Canopy analyzers
  • Cell tissue culture incubators
  • Circulating water baths
  • Colorimeters
  • Conductivity meters
  • Dataloggers
  • Desktop computers
  • Digital cameras
  • Digital pH meters
  • Electron microscopes
  • Epifluorescence microscopes
  • Erlenmeyer flasks
  • Flame photometers
  • Fluorimeters
  • Gamma ray spectrometers
  • Gel documentation systems
  • Gel dryers
  • Gel electrophoresis systems
  • Glass beakers
  • Glass flasks
  • Global positioning system GPS receivers
  • Graduated glass cylinders
  • Ground penetrating radar GPR
  • Hand augers
  • Heat flux plates
  • High speed centrifuges
  • Hot water shaking baths
  • Inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometers ICP-AES
  • Infrared cameras
  • Infrared gas analyzers
  • Ion chromatographs
  • Laboratory drying ovens
  • Laboratory grinders
  • Laboratory growth chambers
  • Laboratory mixers
  • Laboratory muffle furnaces
  • Laboratory sieves
  • Laboratory test tubes
  • Laminar flow hoods
  • Laptop computers
  • Laser particle sizers
  • Light detection and ranging LIDAR systems
  • Luminometers
  • Lysimeters
  • Mass spectrometers
  • Microtiter plate readers
  • Organic carbon analyzers
  • Osmometers
  • Personal computers
  • Personal digital assistants PDA
  • pH indicators
  • Polarizing microscopes
  • Polymerase chain reaction PCR equipment
  • Porometers
  • Precision balances
  • Psychrometers
  • Reciprocating shaker water baths
  • Refrigerated microfuges
  • Sample containers
  • Soil analysis hydrometers
  • Soil augers
  • Soil moisture neutron probes
  • Soil thermometers
  • Spectrophotometers
  • Synthetic aperture radar SAR
  • Tensiometers
  • Thermocouples
  • X ray fluorescence XRF spectrometers
  • 3dMapper
  • Autodesk AutoCAD software
  • Erosion Productivity Impact Calculator EPIC
  • ESRI ArcGIS software
  • European Soil Erosion Model EUROSEM
  • GAEA Technologies WinSieve
  • Geographic information system GIS software
  • Gstat
  • LandSerf
  • Leica Geosystems ERDAS IMAGINE
  • Microsoft Access
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Office software
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Word
  • National Resources Conservation Service NRCS PEDON Description Program PDP
  • National Resources Conservation Service NRCS Soils Explorer
  • National Soil Information System NASIS
  • PC-Progress HYDRUS
  • PedonCE
  • R
  • S-GeMS
  • SAS software
  • Soil information databases
  • SoilVision Systems SoilVision software
  • SPAW
  • SPSS software
  • StatSoft STATISTICA software
  • Variogram Estimation and Spatial Prediction plus Error Vesper
  • Water Erosion Prediction Project WEPP

  • life physical and social science

    industry stats

    SOC: 19-0000

    Total Employed: 1,146,110

    Average Annual Salary: $71,220