Soil and Plant Scientists
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Speciality
Overview
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Conduct research in breeding, physiology, production, yield, and management of crops and agricultural plants or trees, shrubs, and nursery stock, their growth in soils, and control of pests; or study the chemical, physical, biological, and mineralogical composition of soils as they relate to plant or crop growth. May classify and map soils and investigate effects of alternative practices on soil and crop productivity.
Titles for this career often contain these words
ScientistSoilAgronomistBreederPlantResearchSpecialistFieldAgronomyCornExtensionAgriculturistManagerApiculturistArborealArboriculturistArboristBotanistCottonCropNutritionEntomologistFermentationAssistantTechnologyDevelopmentFloriculturistHorticulturistHybridMicrobiologyOnSiteEvaluatorAnatomistPathologistPhysiologistPomologistPropagatorExpertFertilityTechnicalViticulturistWholesale
Education
About 42% of agricultural and food scientists have a graduate-level education, and 100% have at least a bachelor's degree.
Education attained by agricultural and food scientists
None
High School
Some College
Associate's/Cert.
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Degree
Doctorate
Context: workers with graduate degrees
More agricultural and food scientists have graduate degrees than 91% of other careeers.
Employment
Workforce size
Soil and plant scientists, with 18,000 workers, form a smaller workforce than 76% of careers.
Predicted employment growth
Over the next decade, jobs for soil and plant scientists are expected to grow by 8%, and should have about 2,200 job openings a year.
Safety from automation
Soil and plant scientists are less likely to be automated than 86% of other careers.
Salaries
Context: Median Salary
How do salaries for soil and plant scientists compare to other jobs' salaries?
Distribution: What salary can you expect?
See what most soil and plant scientists earn.
$63K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Gender
Women account for 35% of agricultural and food scientists -- that's a smaller percentage than 52% of other jobs.
Gender of agricultural and food scientists
Men
Women
Context: Salary inequity
For each career, we compared the median (middle) men's salary to the median women's salary. For agricultural and food scientists, the median men's salary was 10% more the median woman's salary.
Race/Origin
About 15% of agricultural and food scientists are minority, and 16% are foreign-born.
Race/origin of agricultural and food scientists
White
Black
Pacific Islander
Hispanic
Asian
American Indian
Multiracial
Other
Context: Foreign-born workers (16%)
Where are the most jobs?
We ranked the number of jobs in Soil and Plant Scientists per thousand workers in each state, DC, and Puerto Rico. Blue indicates low density, with lighter shades moving to yellow indicating higher numbers working in this profession.
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Benefits
How do benefits for this career compare to other jobs?
Context: Employer offers health insurance
Context: Employer offers a pension plan
Worker concerns
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of soil and plant scientists who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety (52%)
  • Time Pressure (50%)
  • Consequence of Error (39%)
SOURCES:
Salary and diversity
What do agricultural and food scientists earn?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides company-reported job titles and corresonding salaries at the specialty level (soil and plant scientists). This data excludes self-employed workers.
Distribution: Salaries for soil and plant scientists (BLS Salary Data)
$63K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (BLS Salary Data)
$63K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
The American Community Survey (ACS) asks individuals to report their occupation and salary, and as such includes self-employed workers. This view of salaries is only available for all agricultural and food scientists.
Distribution: Salaries for agricultural and food scientists (ACS Salary Data)
$62K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (ACS Salary Data)
$62K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Agricultural and food scientists: Inflation-adjusted salary trend
This job's median $67KAll jobs' median $45K$62K$44K070809101112131415161718$0$50K$100K$150K
A look at employers and corresponding salaries
The donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, giving us a picture of what employers most typically hire soil and plant scientists.
Employers of Agricultural and food scientists (ACS)
Private for-profit (66.8%)
Private not-for-profit (6.2%)
Local government (2.7%)
State government (10.9%)
Federal government (8.8%)
Self-employed incorporated (1.9%)
Self-employed not incorporated (2.7%)
Working without pay (0.0%)
Distribution: Salaries of agricultural and food scientists by type of employer (ACS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type calculated by aggregating individual household survey responses. These salaries were reported for the larger career group of agricultural and food scientists, which combines the 3 specialties for this career.
$62K$42K$74K$43K$66K$0$50,000$100,000$150,000Federal governmentState governmentPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Distribution: Salaries of soil and plant scientists by type of employer (BLS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type as reported by BLS based on large employer-focused surveys. We note that smaller employer categories are not included by BLS. Remember that the BLS salaries are for the specialty soil and plant scientists, and may differ signficantly from the ACS salary estimates which combine several career specialties.
$63K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000$80,000$100,000$120,000All

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Salary growth for agricultural and food scientists

Is this a job that rewards experience, or is this job most likely a part of a career ladder? The higher a job's experience quotient, the more experience is rewarded with pay increases. Jobs in the green range have the best rewards with experience.

Take a minute to look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working at each age change. Does this seem to be a job for the young or the old, or could it be a career offering steady salary growth for many years?

Salary distribution
$78K$68K$76K$60K$74K$79K$74K$50K$0$50K$100K$150K20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64
Number employed
01K2K3K4K5K20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Agricultural and food scientists and gender

With 35% women, this occupation has a lower percentage of women than 52% of careers.

Context: Women in the workforce
35%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Gender of Agricultural and food scientists
Men (65%)
Women (35%)
Distribution: Salaries by gender

The median salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 19%. The situation is a little better for agricultural and food scientists, with the median salary for men 10% higher than the median salary for women.

$58K$64K$0$50K$100K$150KWomenMen
Context: Salary Inequity

The chart below shows the salary inequity, the percentage by which the median men's salary is higher than the median women's salary for all but about 20 jobs in which women typically earn more than men. Agricultural and food scientists have one of the smaller inequity calculations, with the increase for men's median salary over women's median salary in this job lower than that for 70% of other jobs.

10%0%20%40%60%80%100%

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Race and origin of agricultural and food scientists

Here we check out the diversity of origin in this career. There is a smaller percentage of minority agricultural and food scientists than for 75% of other careers. Although this career does not include a large percentage of minorities, it does hire more foreign-born people that most other careers.

Race/origin of agricultural and food scientists
White (83% )
Asian (9% )
Black (4% )
Other (2% )
Multiracial (1% )
Hispanic (0% )
American Indian (0% )
Context: Representation of minorities in the workforce
15%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Context: Representation of foreign-born workers
16%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Distribution: Salaries for agricultural and food scientists by race/origin

For some careers, there is a pay disparity depending on race or origin, though this is not prevalent. We calculate standard errors for all of our calculations, and when the error is high we do not show results. Therefore, for some jobs will have omitted race/origin categories.

$50K$62K$77K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120KBlackWhiteMultiracial
Distribution: Salaries for agricultural and food scientists by nativity
$58K$63K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120KAll foreign-bornAll native citizens

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Agricultural and food scientists and Part-time/Full-time employment

We've found that somes jobs hava a huge number of part-time workers, and that typically most who are working part-time are doing so because they cannot find full-time work or the job they have cannot provide full-time hours. With 6% part-time workers, this occupation has a lower percentage of part-time workers than 71% of careers.

Context: Part-time workers in the workforce
6%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Why workers are part-time
Full-Time is less than 35 hours a week
Retired/Social Security limit on earnings
Could not find full-time work
Seasonal work
Slack work/business conditions
School/training
Health/medical limitations
Child care problems
Other family/personal obligations
Other reasons
Distribution: Salaries by part-time/full-time status

We only have enough data to accuarately show the salary distribution for full-time workers.

$62K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120KFull-time workers
Pathways to this career
Education attained by soil and plant scientists

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), soil and plant scientists typically hold a bachelor's degree.

Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as agricultural and food scientists as reported in responses to the American Community Survey.

Details: Education and training recommended for soil and plant scientists

Every state has at least one land-grant college that offers agricultural science degrees. Many other colleges and universities also offer agricultural science degrees or related courses. Degrees in related sciences, such as biology, chemistry, and physics, or in a related engineering specialty also may qualify people for many agricultural science jobs.

Undergraduate coursework for food scientists and technologists and for soil and plant scientists typically includes biology, chemistry, botany, and plant conservation. Students preparing to be food scientists take courses such as food chemistry, food analysis, food microbiology, food engineering, and food-processing operations. Students preparing to be soil and plant scientists take courses in plant pathology, soil chemistry, entomology (the study of insects), plant physiology, and biochemistry.

Undergraduate students in agricultural and food sciences typically gain a strong foundation in their specialty, with an emphasis on teamwork through internships and research opportunities. Students also are encouraged to take humanities courses, which can help them develop good communication skills, and computer courses, which can familiarize them with common programs and databases.

Many people with bachelor’s degrees in agricultural sciences find work in related jobs rather than becoming an agricultural or food scientist. For example, a bachelor’s degree in agricultural science is a useful background for farming, ranching, agricultural inspection, farm credit institutions, or companies that make or sell feed, fertilizer, seed, or farm equipment. Combined with coursework in business, agricultural and food science could be a good background for managerial jobs in farm-related or ranch-related businesses. For more information, see the profile on farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers.

Many students with bachelors’ degrees in application-focused food sciences or agricultural sciences earn advanced degrees in applied topics such as toxicology or dietetics. Students who major in a more basic field, such as biology or chemistry, may be better suited for getting their Ph.D. and doing research within the agricultural and food sciences. During graduate school, there is additional emphasis on lab work and original research, in which prospective animal scientists have the opportunity to do experiments and sometimes supervise undergraduates.

Advanced research topics include genetics, animal reproduction, agronomy, and biotechnology, among others. Advanced coursework also emphasizes statistical analysis and experiment design, which are important as Ph.D. candidates begin their research.

Some agricultural and food scientists receive a doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM). Like Ph.D. candidates in animal science, a prospective veterinarian must first have a bachelor’s degree before getting into veterinary school.

Details: Licensing and certification recommended for soil and plant scientists

Some states require soil scientists to be licensed to practice. Licensing requirements vary by state, but generally include holding a bachelor’s degree with a certain number of credit hours in soil science, working under a licensed scientist for a certain number of years, and passing an exam.

Otherwise, certifications are generally not required for agriculture and food scientists, but they can be useful in advancing one’s career. Agricultural and food scientists can get certifications from organizations such as the American Society of Agronomy, the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists (ARPAS), the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), or the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA), and others. These certifications recognize expertise in agricultural and food science, and enhance the status of those who are certified.

Qualification for certification is generally based on education, previous professional experience, and passing a comprehensive exam. Scientists may need to take continuing education courses to keep their certification, and they must follow the organization’s code of ethics.

Education attained by agricultural and food scientists
None
High School
Some College
Associate's/Cert.
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Degree
Doctorate
Distribution: Salary by education level

What level of education is truly needed for agricultural and food scientists? Below we see the distribution of agricultural and food scientists salaries based on the education attained.

$54K$67K$85K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120KBachelor's Degree (58%)Master's Degree (28%)Doctorate (13%)

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

College majors held by agricultural and food scientists

This table shows the college majors held by people working as agricultural and food scientists.

If you see "**" before the name of a degree/program, that means this field is one that the Department of Education believes is preparatory for this career. However, you can see from this list that those recommendations are far from your only path to this job!

Percentage of Agricultural and food scientists with this degree
Salary for all majors
Salary distribution (across jobs). Showing 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
Final education level of all people with this major
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate/Professional
Gender
Gender of people this bachelor's degree
Men
Women
The link between degrees and careers

With the following sankey diagram, you can follow the top ten bachelor's degrees held by people working as agricultural and food scientists, and then, in turn, you can see the 10 occupations that hire the most of each degree's graduates. We hope this provides ideas for similar jobs and similar fields of study.

Farmers, Ranchers, and Ot...Agricultural and food sci...Specialized ManagersLandscaping and Grounds-k...Postsecondary TeachersFirst-Line Supervisors of...Wholesale and Manufacturi...First-Line Supervisors of...Specialized Agricultural ...Elementary and Middle Sch...PhysiciansDentistsRegistered NursesSpecialized Physical Scie...Specialized Life Scientis...Medical and Clinical Labo...PharmacistsFirst-Line Supervisors of...Retail SalespersonsIndustrial Production Man...Market Research Analysts ...Dietitians and Nutritioni...First-Line Supervisors of...Inspectors, Testers, Sort...VeterinariansAnimal CaretakersGeneral and Operations Ma...Chief executives and legi...Chemists and materials sc...Secondary School TeachersAccountants and AuditorsMedical and Health Servic...Environmental Scientists ...Management AnalystsConservation scientists a...First-Line Supervisors of...Biological ScientistsPlant Science andAgronomyBiologyGeneral AgricultureFood ScienceAnimal SciencesAgriculture Production andManagementChemistryMultidisciplinary or GeneralScienceSoil ScienceMicrobiologyAll other degreesThis jobTop 10 majorsEach major's top ten jobs
What college major is your best entry?

Almost all of people working as agricultural and food scientists have at least a bachelor's degree. Each dot represents a college major leading to these jobs, with the dots to the right representing the majors sending the most of their grads into this career. The dots at the top are the majors who earn the most working in this career.

Darker colors have a larger percentage with graduate degreesOverall median salary0.0%2.0%4.0%6.0%8.0%10.0%12.0%14.0%16.0%18.0%20.0%Percentage with this major$30,000$40,000$50,000$60,000$70,000$80,000$90,000$100,000$110,000$120,000Median salary with this major
Switching Careers
The most common next careers for agricultural and food scientists

What jobs will most agricultural and food scientists hold next year?

The data in this chart comes from person interviews for the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. The survey interviews households eight times over a two-year period, allowing us a glimpse into how people move from job to job. You can see more details from the results of the survey in our last tab in this section, and you can read about our methodology in our source descriptions.

Here we see all of the jobs that at least 1% of agricultural and food scientists reported holding in their second year's survey. Is your future job on this list?

Agricultural and food scientistsGrounds maintenance workersAgricultural and Food Science TechniciansRetail SalespersonsPostsecondary teachers and assistantsSpecialized Life ScientistsSpecialized Life, Physical, and Social Science TechniciansLibrarians and related education and training specialistsGeneral Office ClerksFarmers, Ranchers, and Other Agricultural ManagersFirst-Line Supervisors of Retail Sales WorkersForest and Conservation WorkersCivil EngineersProperty, Real Estate, and Community Association ManagersSpecialized Teachers and InstructorsFirst-Line Supervisors of Non-Retail Sales WorkersPersonal Financial AdvisorsHealth Technologists and TechniciansInspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers, and WeighersStockers and Order FillersCustomer Service RepresentativesChildcare WorkersRegistered nursesPharmacistsMedical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians
Lateral job transitions for agricultural and food scientists

A lateral career transition is a move to a job with similar pay and responsibilities. A move to such a job can offer a change of pace without an increase in stress or a decrease in pay. The following table simply identifies all 7 jobs which were held by at least 1% of survey respondents before working as agricultural and food scientists as well as 1% of respondents after working as agricultural and food scientists. Select a row to investigate the job's full description and determine if it truly offers an opportunity for a lateral transition.

Employed
How many people have this job?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
No degree
Associate's/Cert.
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate/Professional
Gender
Men
Women
Prior and next careers for agricultural and food scientists: full listings

What do people typically do before and after they work as agricultural and food scientists? Here are the full lists of all jobs that at least 1% of agricultural and food scientists surveyed reported as holding a year earlier or later.

Choose which type of transition to view
Prior jobs
Next jobs
Variation by state
State-by-state employment numbers

Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.

Job density versus job count

Which states hire the most soil and plant scientists? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as soil and plant scientists. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.

BLS vs ACS data

This map defaults to employment information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides job totals carefully compiled for accuracy and with a primary focus on how employers describe their workers. The BLS job totals do not count self-employed workers. We've also compiled totals using the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) which are based on how workers describe themselves. Sometimes ACS results are quite a bit different from the employer-based BLS data.

One important factor in the differences between ACS and BLS data is that the ACS numbers are for all agricultural and food scientists, comprised of all specialities listed in the menu bar, and you can choose to view the BLS at the specialty or full career level.

Choose the metric to review
Jobs per 1000 working
Number of jobs
Use this data source
BLS for this specialty
Number of Soil and Plant Scientists per 1,000 workers (BLS)
Select a state to see local area details
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0.00.51.01.5
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where soil and plant scientists earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio

We use two methods to compare salaries across states:

  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for agricultural and food scientists compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for agricultural and food scientists.

We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.

BLS vs ACS data

We have two sources for statewide salary information with important distinctions. The BLS data is created by surveying companies, missing individuals who are self-employed or work for smaller companies. The ACS data is compiled from multi-faceted household surveys and may reflect the inconsistencies that people may have in reporting information. The ACS salaries are for all agricultural and food scientists, which combines the specialities from which you can choose at the top of the page.

Choose the metric to review
Location-adjusted median salary
Median salary
Use this data source
BLS for this specialty
Location-adjusted median salary for Soil and Plant Scientists (BLS for this specialty)
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which soil and plant scientists earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this ratio might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
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$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Compare to similar jobs

If this job interests you, then use the tabs and education selector to find other careers that might be a good fit for you.

How should the career similarity be computed?

There are a number of ways to measure the similarity of jobs, here are a few we provide:

  • Interests: Also known as a Holland Code - Are you a thinker? A helper? What fits your personality?
  • Environment: Are there hazards? Will you be comfortable? Will it be stressful?
  • Knowledge: What do you need to know the most about?
  • Physical Abilities: Do you need to especially strong or coordinated?