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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

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

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

Physical Science Professionals (NOC 2115)

forecasted average employment growth rate; job openings; composition of job openings for 2019-2029

Chart from WorkBC

WorkBC provides the regional employment outlook for Other Professional Occupations in Physical Sciences, which includes soil scientists, from 2019-2029:

Region Employment in 2019 Average Annual Employment Growth Expected Number of Job Openings 2019-2029
Vancouver Island 50 -0.4% 0
Lower Mainland / Southwest 100 1.4% 30
Cariboo 30 2.9% 10

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

The annual median salary for Other Professional Occupations in Physical Sciences (including Soil Scientists) in BC is $89,512.

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.
Sources: WorkBC and Career Cruising

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 through registration with the British Columbia Institute of Agrologists (BCIA). There are two registration streams: Professional Agrologist (PAg) or Technical Agrologist (TAg).

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)

To become a Technical Agrologist you must have:

  • A minimum of a diploma applied degree or degree with a science focus from an accredited post-secondary institution, with a required number of courses related to agrology
  • completed the Articling Agrologist Program

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:

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:

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 Freeway

  • Available online through the Vancouver Public Library
    NOTE: Access at VPL locations only

Online Job Postings

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 SEARCH.
    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 information and assistance. Registration and fees are usually required for membership.

Industry Journals

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