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Working as a Soil Scientist [NOC 2115]

Job Description

Soil scientists conduct research into the composition, distribution and changing nature of soils.

As a soil scientist you do the following:

  • Collect and analyze data
  • Conduct research in laboratory and field settings
  • Monitor industrial activities to ensure environmental regulation
  • Plan and implement land development and reclamation plans
  • Assist in technology development
  • Conduct assessments
  • Write reports
  • Classify soil and prepare soil maps

Source: NOC 2115

Industry Overview

Soil scientists are part of the larger occupational group of physical science professionals. With accreditation and registration you may also be called an Agrologist in the province of BC.

Soil science is considered a specialization within the field of agrology and is in high demand. In BC, there is a growing demand for agrologists. According to the BC Institute of Agrologists (BCIA), there are more jobs than qualified people in this field.

Soil Science offers career opportunities in a range of sectors including:

  • Agriculture
  • Forestry
  • Environmental assessment and land use
  • Mining and oil & gas industries
  • Researcher for government or educational institutions

Sources: BC Institute of Agrologists and Canadian Society of Soil Science

Job Outlook in BC

job outlook for physical science professionals

Chart from WorkBC

The Employment Outlook for BC provides job openings projections for Other Professional Occupations in Physical Sciences, which includes soil scientists, within BC regions:

Region 2010 Estimated Employment 2015 Estimated Employment Avg Annual % Change, 5 Years, 2010 to 2015
Vancouver Island 50 50 0.8%
Lower Mainland / Southwest 170 180 1.9%
Thompson-Okanagan 40 40 0.6%
Kootenay 10 20 3.6%
Cariboo 10 10 2.8%
North Coast & Nechako 10 10 5.3%
Northeast 10 20 4.1%

Source: Regional Employment Projections, BC Stats. Projections for development regions. [accessed 2014]

You can learn more about working as a soil scientist from:

Types of Employers

Soil scientists are employed by:

  • Federal, provincial and municipal government departments
  • many industries including agriculture, forestry, oil & gas, mining
  • environmental consulting and management companies
  • universities, colleges and research institutes
  • conservation agencies

You may also be self-employed and work as an independent consultant.

Salary

Soil scientists in entry level positions make an average of $58,250 per year in Canada.

With several years of experience and education you can make between $55,500 and $102,000 per year.

Your salary depends on your area of specialization, experience, employer, and level of education. If you have a Master’s degree or PhD you generally earn a higher salary than if you only have a bachelor degree.
Source: ECO Canada Career Profile

Job Bank Canada provides salaries for other Professional Occupations in Physical Sciences in BC regions:

soil scientist regional wage
Source: Job Bank Canada, Wage Reports

Working Hours

Most soil scientists work 40 hours a week. However, you may occasionally be required to work evenings and weekends when special inspections or studies of sites must be done.

You may have to travel in order to conduct fieldwork, taking soil samples for further study.

Skills, Education and Experience

Skills

  • Strong written and oral communication skills
  • Project and financial management
  • Making presentations
  • Problem-solving skills
  • An aptitude for science
  • Organized
  • Detail-oriented
  • Able to work well individually and as part of a team

Education and Experience

  • A bachelor’s degree in a science, resource or agricultural discipline is required
  • A master’s degree or PhD in soil science may be required
  • Familiarity with Canadian soil classification types is helpful

Qualifications

The occupation Professional Agrologist is regulated in British Columbia.

Although it is not mandatory to become certified in order to work as a soil scientist in BC, you may choose to apply for professional status as a Professional Agrologist.

To use the title Professional Agrologist (P.AG) you must be a member of the British Columbia Institute of Agrologists (BCIA)

To become a Professional Agrologist you must have:

  • completed a four year Bachelors degree with a required number of courses related to agrology
  • completed the Articling Agrologist Program (which involves participating in a number of events and activities and completing milestones)
  • been employed in the practice of agrology for a minimum of two years

For more information:

Internationally Trained Soil Scientists

If you are an internationally trained soil scientist and want to become a member of the British Columbia Institute of Agrologists you are required to have your credentials evaluated by:

International Credential Evaluation Services (ICES)
Phone: (604) 432-8800
toll free 1-866-434-9197
e-mail: icesinfo@bcit.ca

Ask for the normal or basic assessment, as required by the BC Institute of Agrologists.

Many soil scientists trained outside of Canada are still having difficulty finding jobs even with the demand in the agrology sector. The main issue is lack of hands-on experience with BC’s agriculture and resource industries.

The BC Institute of Agrologists recommends that soil scientists new to Canada first search for work in a lab with a senior agrologist to gain experience with BC’s soil and local issues.

You can learn more about qualifying to work as an agrologist from the BCIA.

Robert Moody, M.Sc., RPBio., P.Ag., Executive Director/Registrar
BC Institute of Agrologists
Phone: 250-380-9292

Finding Jobs

You’ll find job advertisements in local newspapers, trade journals, and electronic sources, as well as through professional association publications.

Local Newspapers

You can look at the Vancouver Sun & The Province at Vancouver Public Library for free. Check the job postings daily and the careers section in the Vancouver Sun on Wednesdays and Saturdays and in The Province on Sundays.

Job White Pages

  • Available online or in print at the Central Library
    NOTE: You can only access this database from the Central Library or VPL branch libraries. Access is NOT available from home or outside the Library.

Online Job Postings

  • Indeed.com

    Find jobs posted on a multitude of company career sites and job boards

Professional Associations’ Career Resources

Identifying the Right Position

When you browse job advertisements, you will find a range of different job titles that may be relevant.

For Soil Scientists, look for these related titles:

  • Agrologist
  • Agronomist
  • Land-use specialist
  • Resource manager
  • Soil technician

Creating a List of Potential Employers

You can use directories to produce lists of employers. Contact them directly to find out if they’re hiring. (Many large engineering firms have a soil or agriculture department.)

  • Reference Canada
    Click on “Start Search” beside Canadian Businesses, then select the “Advanced Search” button.
    Select both “Keyword/SIC/NAICS” under Business Type and “City” under Geography.
    In the top search box enter “SOIL” and click LOOKUP.
    Select the appropriate headings.
    Lower down, select the Province, choose the cities, and click the “View Results” button.
    NOTE: You can access this database from a Library computer. If you are using a computer from outside the Library, you will need a Vancouver Public Library card to login to this database. After clicking on the database name, you will be asked to enter your library card number and PIN (usually last four digits of your telephone number).

Applying for a Job

In Canada, employers usually expect to receive a resume (curriculum vitae) and a cover letter that identifies the position you are applying for and summarizes your relevant experience.
Use the library catalogue to find books on writing resumes and cover letters specific to your industry.
To learn about applying for jobs in Canada, see the following:

Getting Help from Industry Sources

Industry Associations

Associations for soil scientists and agrologists in BC and Canada provide assistance to individuals. Registration and fees are usually required for membership.

Industry Journals

Search the Vancouver Public Library catalogue for journals related to your profession.

Examples at the Central Library: