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How do I Become a Soil Conservationist?

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  • Written By: Donn Saylor
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 07 December 2016
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To become a soil conservationist, you should have an interest in environmental science, a natural desire to get your hands dirty and learn more about the earth, and a degree in soil conservation or a related field. There are not many educational institutions that offer specialized study in the trade of soil conservation, so many soil conservationists working in the industry possess degrees in environmental science studies, biology, or forestry. The vast majority of those in this field are employed by the government.

The basis of a career in soil and water conservation is an active interest and natural aptitude for environmental science. Environmental science is the study of the earth through physical and biological science, conducted in an effort to find resolutions to environmental problems. This subject can be broached as early as high school, and, if your interest is piqued by the topic and you consider it something you'd like to do as a career, you can take the next steps to become a soil conservationist.

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This type of environmental career requires workers to get up close and personal with the material they are working with; in this case, soil. You cannot be squeamish about getting dirty when you become a soil conservationist. You will need to analyze soil and water to help your employers identify problems, troubleshoot erosion issues, maintain high water quality, and avoid contamination of water and soil. A significant portion of your workday will be spent outdoors, working in the thick of the elements. It should also be noted that you probably won't be working in idyllic, pastoral settings; most of the time, you'll likely be on cattle farms, oil fields, or areas with contaminated water supplies.

Finding the right post-secondary education is the most important step to become a soil conservationist. Most colleges and universities will offer an environmental science degree, which encompasses soil conservation as well as several related disciplines. Since you will be hard pressed to find a school that provides a degree in soil conservation, the environmental science option will likely be your best bet. Alternately, you could get your degree in biology or range management, or as a forestry specialist or conservation scientist, all of which will allow you to work in soil conservation.

Those working in this industry typically spend a lot of time out of the office, hard at work in the field. If your career goals entail sitting behind a desk, soil conservation may not be for you. But if you relish the idea of finding solutions to environmental problems, working to prevent forest fires and soil and water contamination, and getting dirt under your fingernails, a career as a soil conservationist may be the perfect option.

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