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Soil scientist

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Summary of occupation

​Soil scientists specialise in studying the properties of soil and soil health. This usually involves investigating the soil conditions of a range of sites, collecting and analysing samples, and reporting findings. They classify the properties of the soil, assess the soil fertility, check for contamination, and also look at the relationship between soil and plant growth. Their work can inform the management of crop production, erosion control, mine-site restoration, pollution reduction and land management.

ANZSCO description: Soil scientists study, develop, implement and advise on policies and plans concerning the chemical and structural composition of soil.
Alternative names:
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

​A soil scientist needs:

  • to have good critical thinking and analytical skills
  • good problem solving skills
  • strong written and verbal communication skills
  • to have a high attention to detail
  • to enjoy working outdoors
  • to be able to work independently and as part of a team.
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Working conditions

​Soil scientists divide their time between working in a laboratory, researching and analysing samples, and spending time surveying out in the field. They may be required to work long hours, and the fieldwork can be physically demanding. Soil scientists may be required to undertake project-related travel.

In Western Australia, soil scientists may work for science organisations, government departments or consultancy companies.

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Salary details

​On average, soil scientists, classified under environmental scientists, can expect to earn between $1 500 and $1 999 per week ($78 000 and $103 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As a soil scientist develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

​Soil scientists use a range of specialised machinery and equipment to collect and analyse soil, including soil samplers, sieves, probes, augers and core cutters. They also use computers and standard laboratory equipment, such as microscopes and measuring devices, to analyse the chemical composition and properties of the soil.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

​To become a soil scientist you usually need to complete a science degree majoring in agricultural science, environmental science, biological sciences or a related field.

Most universities in Western Australia offer degrees in these fields. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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