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Career and Education Opportunities for Soil Scientists in Huntsville, Alabama

Soil scientists can find many career and educational opportunities in the Huntsville, Alabama area. There are currently 120 working soil scientists in Alabama; this should grow 11% to 130 working soil scientists in the state by 2016. This is not quite as good as the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for soil scientists are expected to grow by about 15.5%. In general, soil scientists conduct research in breeding, physiology, and management of crops and agricultural plants, their growth in soils, and control of pests; or study the chemical, physical, and mineralogical composition of soils as they relate to plant or crop growth.

The income of a soil scientist is about $30 hourly or $64,140 yearly on average in Alabama. In the U.S. as a whole, their income is about $28 per hour or $58,390 yearly on average. Earnings for soil scientists are better than earnings in the general category of Life Sciences in Alabama and not quite as good as general Life Sciences category earnings nationally. Jobs in this field include: botanist, arborist, and floriculturist.

There is one school within twenty-five miles of Huntsville where you can study to be a soil scientist, among eleven schools of higher education total in the Huntsville area. Soil scientists usually hold a Bachelor's degree, so you can expect to spend about four years studying to be a soil scientist if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Soil Scientist

In general, soil scientists conduct research in breeding, physiology, and management of crops and agricultural plants, their growth in soils, and control of pests; or study the chemical, physical, and mineralogical composition of soils as they relate to plant or crop growth. They also may classify and map soils and investigate effects of alternative practices on soil and crop productivity.

Soil scientists communicate research and project results to other professionals and the public or teach related courses or workshops. They also design ways of altering soils to suit different types of plants. Equally important, soil scientists have to investigate responses of soils to specific management practices to establish the use capabilities of soils and the effects of alternative practices on soil productivity. They are often called upon to investigate soil problems and poor water quality to establish sources and effects. They are expected to furnish data and recommendations to farmers and other landowners regarding ways in which they can best use land, promote plant growth, and avoid or correct problems such as erosion. Finally, soil scientists perform chemical analyses of the microorganism content of soils to establish microbial reactions and chemical mineralogical relationships to plant growth.

Every day, soil scientists are expected to be able to articulate ideas and problems. They need to listen to and understand others in meetings. It is also important that they think through problems and come up with general rules.

It is important for soil scientists to conduct experiments investigating how soil forms and interacts with land-based ecosystems and living organisms. They are often called upon to furnish advice regarding the development of regulatory standards for land reclamation and soil conservation. They also confer with engineers and other technical personnel working on construction projects about the effects of soil problems and possible solutions to these problems. They are sometimes expected to formulate and supervise land conservation and reclamation programs for industrial development projects, and waste management programs for composting and farming. Somewhat less frequently, soil scientists are also expected to study insect distribution and habitat and recommend methods to inhibit importation and spread of injurious species.

Soil scientists sometimes are asked to identify and classify species of insects and allied forms. And finally, they sometimes have to conduct experiments investigating how soil forms and interacts with land-based ecosystems and living organisms.

Like many other jobs, soil scientists must be able to absorb the factors involved and a problem and provide a well thought out solution and have exceptional integrity.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Huntsville include:

  • Biologist. Research or study basic principles of plant and animal life, such as origin, relationship, and functions.
  • Chemical Laboratory Technician. Conduct chemical and physical laboratory tests to assist scientists in making qualitative and quantitative analyses of solids, liquids, and gaseous materials for purposes, such as research and development of new products or processes, quality control, maintenance of environmental standards, and other work involving experimental, theoretical, or practical application of chemistry and related sciences.
  • Chemist. Conduct qualitative and quantitative chemical analyses or chemical experiments in laboratories for quality or process control or to develop new products or knowledge.
  • Environmental Technician. Perform laboratory and field tests to monitor the environment and investigate sources of pollution, including those that affect health. Under direction of an environmental scientist or specialist, may collect samples of gases, soil, and other materials for testing and take corrective actions as assigned.
  • Food Science Technician. Perform standardized qualitative and quantitative tests to determine physical or chemical properties of food or beverage products.
  • Food Technologist. Use chemistry, microbiology, and other sciences to study the principles underlying the processing and deterioration of foods; analyze food content to determine levels of vitamins, fat, and protein; discover new food sources; research ways to make processed foods safe, palatable, and healthful; and apply food science knowledge to determine best ways to process, package, and distribute food.
  • Forester. Manage forested lands for economic, recreational, and conservation purposes. May inventory the type, amount, and location of standing timber, appraise the timber's worth, negotiate the purchase, and draw up contracts for procurement. May determine how to conserve wildlife habitats, creek beds, and soil stability, and how best to comply with environmental regulations. May devise plans for planting and growing new trees, monitor trees for healthy growth, and determine the best time for harvesting. Develop forest management plans for public and privately-owned forested lands.
  • Medical Scientist. Conduct research dealing with the understanding of human diseases and the improvement of human health. Engage in clinical investigation or other research, production, or related activities.
  • Natural Resource Manager. Research or study range land management practices to provide sustained production of forage, livestock, and wildlife.
  • Park Ranger. Plan, develop, and conduct programs to inform public of historical, natural, and scientific features of national, state, or local park.
  • Scientist. Study the chemical composition and physical principles of living cells and organisms, their electrical and mechanical energy, and related phenomena. May conduct research to further understanding of the complex chemical combinations and reactions involved in metabolism, reproduction, and heredity. May determine the effects of foods, drugs, and other substances on tissues and vital processes of living organisms.
  • Soil Conservation Technician. Plan and develop coordinated practices for soil erosion control, soil and water conservation, and sound land use.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Soil Scientist Training

Alabama A & M University - Normal, AL

Alabama A & M University, 4900 Meridian St, Normal, AL 35762. Alabama A & M University is a medium sized university located in Normal, Alabama. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 5,124 students and an admission rate of 49%. Alabama A & M University has 2 areas of study related to Soil Scientist. They are:

  • Agriculture, bachelor's degree which graduated 12 students in 2008.
  • Plant Sciences, Other Specialties, bachelor's degree and master's degree which graduated two and seven students respectively in 2008.

CERTIFICATIONS

Certified Crop Advisor: The American Society of Agronomy's Certified Crop Adviser Program (CCA).

For more information, see the American Society of Agronomy - ARCPACS website.

Certified Professional Agronomist: This certification is designed for the agronomist that advises growers on agronomic practices, conducts training programs for other agronomists, conducts research, manages other agronomists, or provides technical support to field agronomists and can meet the standards of the program.

For more information, see the American Society of Agronomy - ARCPACS website.

Certified Professional Soil Scientist: Certification programs offered by SSSA are voluntary, but offer similar benefits to the public as licensing programs.

For more information, see the American Society of Agronomy - ARCPACS website.

Accredited Agricultural Consultant: The Accredited Agricultural Consultant (AAC) designation was developed and first offered by the ASFMRA in 1997.

For more information, see the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers website.

Associate Certified Entomologist: The Entomological Society of America, long the industry leader in certification through its Board Certified Entomologist (BCE) program, is pleased to announce a new certification option geared specifically toward the pest management industry.

For more information, see the Entomological Society of America website.

Arborist / Municipal Specialist: This credential was developed by the ISA and the Society of Municipal Arboriculture for those involved in managing the complex aspect of trees in an urban environment.

For more information, see the International Society of Arboriculture website.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Huntsville, Alabama

Huntsville, Alabama
Huntsville, Alabama photo by Anivron

Huntsville is located in Madison County, Alabama. It has a population of over 176,645, which has grown by 11.6% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Huntsville, 82, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Huntsville are valued at $44,900 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, 1,004 new homes were constructed in Huntsville, down from 1,558 the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Huntsville are health care, educational services, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is professional, scientific, and technical services, public administration, and construction. The average commute to work is about 18 minutes. More than 36.1% of Huntsville residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 12.7%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Huntsville is 7.6%, which is less than Alabama's average of 10.7%.

The percentage of Huntsville residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 55.2%, is more than the national average but less than the state average. Whitesburg Church of God, Whitesburg Church and Maple Grove Church are among the churches located in Huntsville. The most common religious groups are the Southern Baptist Convention, the United Methodist Church and the Catholic Church.

Huntsville is home to the Valley Hill Golf and Country Club and the Lowe Industrial Park as well as John H Steigerwood Field and Milton Frank Stadium. Shopping malls in the area include Madison Plaza Shopping Center, Madison Square Mall Shopping Center and Memorial Plaza Shopping Center. Visitors to Huntsville can choose from King's Inn, Candlewood Suites and Economy Inn for temporary stays in the area.