Soil and Water Conservationist

Agriculture Consultant, Aquatic Ecologist, Aquatic/Terrestrial Habitat Restoration Technician   More Names
Biologist, Botany Technician, Conservation Agent, Conservation Engineer, Conservation of Resources Commissioner, Conservation Policy Analyst, Conservation Specialist, Conservationist, Department of Natural Resources Officer (DNR Officer), Ecologist Technician, Environmental Analyst, Environmental Consultant, Environmental Planner, Erosion and Sediment Control Professional, Erosion Control Coordinator, Erosion Control Design and Installation Contractor, Erosion Control Specialist, Farm Planner, Field Agronomist, Filter Changing Technician, Land Manager, Land Reclamation Specialist, Land Resource Specialist, Land Use Planner, Range Conservationist, Research Soil Scientist, Resource Conservation Specialist, Resource Conservationist, Restoration Ecologist, Soil and Water Conservation District Manager, Soil Conservation Technician, Soil Conservationist, Soil Scientist, Soil Surveyor, Terrestrial Ecologist, Water Conservation Specialist, Watershed Program Manager, Wetland Scientist, Wetlands Technician

Conservation scientists/technicians oversee the overall land quality of remediation sites. They work with landowners and government agencies to devise ways to improve the land and safeguard the environment. They evaluate data on soil and water quality and assess damage to the land from pollution. They help to monitor the remediation process.

They perform these tasks important to the green economy: Advise land users, such as farmers or ranchers, on plans, problems, or alternative conservation solutions. Analyze results of investigations to determine measures needed to maintain or restore proper soil management. Apply principles of specialized fields of science, such as agronomy, soil science, forestry, or agriculture, to achieve conservation objectives.

Calculate or compare efficiencies associated with changing from low-precision irrigation technologies, such as furrow irrigation, to high-precision technologies, such as computer-controlled systems. Compile or interpret biodata to determine extent or type of wetlands or to aid in program formulation. Compute cost estimates of different conservation practices, based on needs of land users, maintenance requirements, or life expectancy of practices.

Compute design specifications for implementation of conservation practices, using survey or field information technical guides or engineering manuals. Conduct fact-finding or mediation sessions among government units, landowners, or other agencies to resolve disputes. Coordinate or implement technical, financial, or administrative assistance programs for local government units to ensure efficient program implementation or timely responses to requests for assistance.

Develop or conduct environmental studies, such as plant material field trials or wildlife habitat impact studies. Develop or maintain working relationships with local government staff or board members. Develop water conservation or harvest plans, using weather information systems, irrigation information management systems, or other sources of daily evapotranspiration (ET) data.

Develop, conduct, or participate in surveys, studies, or investigations of various land uses to inform corrective action plans. Enter local soil, water, or other environmental data into adaptive or web-based decision tools to identify appropriate analyses or techniques. Evaluate or recommend geographic information systems (GIS) applications to address issues such as surface water quality, groundwater quality, ecological risk assessments, air quality, or environmental contamination.

Gather information from geographic information systems (GIS) databases or applications to formulate land use recommendations. Identify or recommend integrated weed and pest management (IPM) strategies, such as resistant plants, cultural or behavioral controls, soil amendments, insects, natural enemies, barriers, or pesticides.

Implement soil or water management techniques, such as nutrient management, erosion control, buffers, or filter strips, in accordance with conservation plans. Initiate, schedule, or conduct annual audits or compliance checks of program implementation by local government. Manage field offices or involve staff in cooperative ventures. Monitor projects during or after construction to ensure projects conform to design specifications.

Participate on work teams to plan, develop, or implement programs or policies for improving environmental habitats, wetlands, or groundwater or soil resources. Plan soil management or conservation practices, such as crop rotation, reforestation, permanent vegetation, contour plowing, or terracing, to maintain soil or conserve water. Provide access to programs or training to assist in completion of government groundwater protection plans.

Provide information, knowledge, expertise, or training to government agencies at all levels to solve water or soil management problems assurordination of resource protection activities. Respond to complaints or questions on wetland jurisdiction, providing information or clarification. Review annual reports of counties, conservation districts, or watershed management organizations, certifying compliance with mandated reporting requirements.

Review grant applications or make funding recommendations. Review or approve amendments to comprehensive local water plans or conservation district plans. Review proposed wetland restoration easements or provide technical recommendations. Revisit land users to view implemented land use practices or plans. Survey property to mark locations or measurements, using surveying instruments.

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Job Growth and Wages
Percent Job Growth:  
7% - Slower than average
Typical Wages (National):  
Annual: $47,010 - $78,120    Hourly: $23 - $38
Physical/Medical/Health Requirements

Working conditions vary considerably for this occupation. Some conservation scientists work regular hours in offices or labs, but others may split their time between fieldwork and office work. Independent consultants and new, less experienced workers spend the majority of their time outdoors overseeing or participating in hands-on work. Fieldwork can involve long hours alone.

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Legal Requirements

Career Snapshot

Typical Education:

Bachelor's Degree (High School + 4 or more Years)
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Percent Job Growth:

7% - Slower than average
Find Jobs

Typical Wages:

Annual: $47,010 - $78,120

Hourly: $23 - $38