Soil TechnicianJob Description, Salary, Career Path, and Trends
In order to determine if land is suited for any use, it must first be tested for compliance and safety, as well as provide vital knowledge on what it can even be used for. Some soil cannot be used for agriculture, while some may not be able to support certain structures or materials.
Soil Technicians make sure that before a company has spent a significant investment in a piece of property, the property is able to be used for its intended purpose. In collaboration with lab technicians and other field technicians, these experts test for soil types and compositions to reveal vital information.
These technicians should have a broad knowledge of federal, state, and local environmental regulations, along with ecological reporting and surveying. They should effectively be able to communicate their findings, be it written or verbal, and be comfortable doing significant amounts of fieldwork gathering samples.
Sample job description
From construction to agriculture, many industries rely on the expertise of soil technicians to develop recommendations for best practices. Understanding the properties of a site’s soil composition is important to protect the site from the damages of erosion. A soil technician analyzes the soil to make the best recommendations. [Your company name] is looking for skilled soil technicians to join our team. If you have excellent observational, communication, and critical thinking skills, our company could be the perfect fit.
Typical duties and responsibilities
Test and analyze soil, aggregates, concrete, and other materials
Document and explain all findings and note any issues or concerns
Collaborate with contractors, technicians, and project managers
Compile and present findings and recommendations to decision-makers
Education and experience
This position requires an associate degree, preferably with courses in ecology, biology, chemistry, and global environmental issues. Employers often prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree and certification as an environmental professional.
Required skills and qualifications
Broad knowledge of federal, state, and local environmental regulations
Experience with ecological surveying and reporting
Knowledge of various sampling techniques and equipment
Critical thinking and problem-solving skills
Robust technical writing, analytical, and communications skills
Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite and industry-related software
Comfortable with fieldwork
Bachelor’s degree in science, agriculture, or related field
Experience working with the local soil
Passion for environmental science
Average salary and compensation
The average salary for a soil technician is $43,500 in the United States. Position salary will vary based on experience, education, company size, industry, and market.
Los Angeles, California
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
New York City, New York
Typical work environment
Due to the nature of a soil technician’s work, their time is usually spent both out in the field, where they collect soil samples from construction sites and farmland, and in the lab, where they analyze the samples and develop recommendations based on their findings. You’ll need to work in all weather conditions in many different environments, depending on the worksite, and be prepared for different safety procedures.
The typical work hours for a soil technician are from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday, typically in an office or laboratory setting, or in the field.
Because soil technicians are needed in so many different industries, the market for soil technicians is flourishing, and certifications are available to help you advance your career.
Aggregate/Soils Base Testing Technician. Offered through the American Concrete Institute, this certification program is available nationwide. The certification requires prior experience and knowledge of performing, recording, and analyzing soil/aggregate samples in the field and in the laboratory. The certification program reviews AASHTO/ASTM standards to prepare you for both the written and performance exams.
Construction Materials Testing Soils Certification. The NICET certification program prepares technicians for working in the field and in the lab with materials collected from construction sites. The program has four levels, beginning with the basics in Level I of sampling standards, how to collect samples, how to test and identify samples, and safety procedures on a construction site and moving up to level IV, which prepares candidates to work in managing roles.
Certified Professional Soil Scientist. The Soil Science Society of America offers this certification program, which requires a Bachelor’s degree, with five years post-degree experience, 15 soil-specific credit hours, and 45 credit hours of supporting classes. The program both adds credibility to your portfolio as well as helps you better serve your clients.
The path to becoming a soil technician starts with earning an associate degree, preferably with courses in ecology, biology, chemistry, and global environmental issues. Advancements in supervisory and managerial positions are higher for those who complete at least a bachelor’s degree program. Faculty and leading research positions may require the completion of a master’s or doctoral degree program. Employers often prefer candidates with Environmental Professional certification.
US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook
SOC Code: 19-4043
Projected Employment in 2030
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift
Soil technicians will be expected to make valuable recommendations on how to balance growing environmental concerns with the ever-increasing demands of population growth. The need for energy, environmental protection, and responsible land and resource management should spur demand for this position.
Sample interview questions
What qualities should a soil technician have?
Where do you see your career heading in the next five years?
What makes you believe you will make a good soil technician?
What was the most difficult project you’ve worked on? How did you work through the challenges that occurred throughout the project?
How do you communicate the technical aspects of a project with someone who doesn’t have a technical background?
Tell me about a time you analyzed data from soil samples and used your knowledge to make the best recommendations.
Tell me about a time you made a mistake. How did you correct your error?
How do you manage your time when working on a project?
Describe an experience where you used new technology in the field to improve a project.
Explain your process for double-checking your work to avoid mistakes.
Describe a time you provided support in planning a project to make sure environmental regulations and policies were followed.
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