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Top 11 Soil Scientist Certifications

This article provides an overview of the most popular and respected soil scientist certifications available.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 18 min read

Certifications for a soil scientist are important in the job market because they demonstrate a professional level of expertise and knowledge to potential employers. They also provide proof that the soil scientist has completed the necessary training and education needed to be successful in the field. Certifications help employers evaluate candidates, as they can easily determine if an applicant meets their requirements. Additionally, certifications can give a soil scientist an advantage over other candidates who may not have them. This is especially true when competing for higher-level positions within the profession.

The purpose of this article is to review the most beneficial certifications for Soil Scientists and explain how they can help advance a soil scientist's career.

What are Soil Scientist Certifications?

Soil scientist certification is a recognition given to individuals who have demonstrated knowledge, experience and proficiency in soil science. It is granted by professional organizations such as the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA). Certification can help soil scientists establish credibility in their field and demonstrate their expertise to employers, clients and other professionals. It also helps them stay up-to-date on the latest research and techniques in soil science, which can be beneficial for their career development. Certification also provides access to exclusive resources and networking opportunities with other certified soil scientists, which can be invaluable in advancing one’s career. In addition, having a certification can open up greater job opportunities as employers often look for certified individuals when hiring soil scientists.

Pro Tip: Before pursuing soil scientist certification, be sure to research the different certifying organizations and their requirements. Different organizations may require varying levels of experience and education, so it is important to know what you need to qualify for certification. Additionally, make sure to stay up-to-date with any changes or updates in the field of soil science, as these can also affect your eligibility for certification.

Related: What does a Soil Scientist do?

Top 11 Soil Scientist Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Soil Scientists today.

1. Certified Professional Soil Scientist (CPSS)

Certified Professional Soil Scientist (CPSS) is a professional certification program offered through the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA). This certification program recognizes individuals who have met the highest standards of soil science knowledge and practice. The CPSS designation is an internationally recognized symbol of excellence in the field of soil science.

To become a Certified Professional Soil Scientist, an individual must meet certain educational requirements and pass a comprehensive exam administered by SSSA. To be eligible for the exam, applicants must have at least a bachelor’s degree in soil science or related field, plus three years of professional experience in soil science or related fields.

The exam consists of two parts: a written portion and an oral portion. The written portion covers topics such as soil physics, chemistry, biology, fertility, classification, management and conservation. The oral portion includes questions on practical applications of soil science principles.

The cost to take the exam varies depending on whether you are an SSSA member or non-member. For SSSA members, it costs $250 to take the exam; for non-members it costs $500. Additionally, there is an annual fee of $50 to maintain your CPSS certification once you have passed the exam.

Overall, it typically takes about six months to complete the process from start to finish – including studying for and taking the exam – but this may vary depending on individual circumstances.

2. Certified Soil Classifier (CSC)

Certified Soil Classifier (CSC) is a professional certification that recognizes individuals who have demonstrated a high level of knowledge and expertise in soil classification. The CSC certification is offered by the American Society of Agronomy and is designed to recognize the expertise of those working in the field of soil science.

To become certified, individuals must pass a written examination that covers topics such as soil morphology, texture, structure, hydrology, fertility, and classification systems. The exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions and takes approximately two hours to complete.

In order to qualify for the CSC certification, applicants must have at least five years of experience in soil classification or related fields. They must also submit proof of their educational background and provide references from professionals in their field.

The cost for the CSC certification varies depending on the individual's location and other factors. Generally speaking, it can range anywhere from $200 to $500 USD.

Once an individual has successfully completed all requirements for the CSC certification, they will receive a certificate that is valid for five years. After this time period has elapsed, they will need to retake the exam in order to maintain their certification status.

3. Certified Soil Fertility Specialist (CSFS)

A Certified Soil Fertility Specialist (CSFS) is a professional who has been certified by the International Plant Nutrition Institute to have expertise in soil fertility and plant nutrition. The certification is designed to recognize individuals who have achieved a high level of knowledge and experience in the field.

To become a CSFS, individuals must complete an online application and pass a written exam. The exam covers topics such as soil fertility, nutrient management, crop production, and environmental concerns. Applicants must also provide evidence of their education and experience in the field.

The exam typically takes about four hours to complete and costs $200 USD. Once applicants pass the exam, they will receive their certification within two weeks.

The CSFS certification is valid for five years from the date of issue, after which time recertification is required. Recertification requires applicants to submit evidence of continuing education credits earned in soil fertility-related topics during the five-year period since their initial certification was granted.

4. Certified Professional Agronomist (CPAg)

Certified Professional Agronomist (CPAg) is a professional certification program developed by the American Society of Agronomy (ASA). The CPAg certification is designed to recognize agronomists who have achieved a high level of professional expertise in the field. The certification is awarded to individuals who demonstrate mastery of agronomic principles and practices, as well as knowledge of current research and trends in the industry.

It typically takes two to three years to complete the requirements for CPAg certification. To become certified, applicants must pass an exam that covers topics such as soil science, plant nutrition, weed science, crop production, pest management, and environmental stewardship. Applicants must also have at least two years of experience in the field and must submit letters of recommendation from employers or other professionals in the field.

The cost for CPAg certification varies based on location and whether or not you are already an ASA member. In general, it costs around $400-$500 for non-members and $200-$300 for members. Additionally, there may be additional fees associated with taking the exam.

Overall, becoming a Certified Professional Agronomist is a great way to demonstrate your expertise in the field and can open up new career opportunities.

5. Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control (CPESC)

Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control (CPESC) is a certification program designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated a high level of knowledge and expertise in the field of erosion and sediment control. The program is administered by the International Erosion Control Association (IECA).

To become certified, applicants must pass an exam that covers topics such as soil science, hydrology, stormwater management, erosion and sediment control principles, regulations, design methods, construction practices, inspection techniques, and maintenance considerations. Applicants must also demonstrate at least three years of experience in the field.

The exam takes approximately four hours to complete and costs $450 for IECA members or $550 for non-members. Once an applicant passes the exam they will receive their CPESC certification which is valid for five years. After five years they must renew their certification by submitting proof of continuing education credits.

The cost to renew your CPESC certification is $200 for IECA members or $250 for non-members.

6. Certified Professional in Landscape Irrigation Auditing (CPLAIA)

Certified Professional in Landscape Irrigation Auditing (CPLAIA) is a certification program offered by the Irrigation Association (IA). It is designed to provide landscape irrigation professionals with the knowledge and skills necessary to conduct water-efficient landscape irrigation audits. The CPLAIA certification recognizes individuals who have demonstrated expertise in evaluating existing landscape irrigation systems for water efficiency, identifying opportunities for improvement, and providing practical recommendations for improving system performance.

The CPLAIA certification requires a minimum of 40 hours of training and experience in the field of landscape irrigation auditing. This includes completing an online course, attending a two-day workshop, and passing an exam. The cost of the certification is $500 USD plus any applicable taxes or fees.

In order to obtain the CPLAIA certification, applicants must first complete an online application form and submit it to the IA for review. Once approved, applicants will be provided with access to an online course which must be completed within six months of registration. Upon successful completion of the course, applicants will receive a certificate confirming their successful completion of the coursework required for CPLAIA certification.

Applicants must then attend a two-day workshop hosted by an IA Certified Instructor at one of several locations across North America. During this workshop, participants will learn about conducting efficient landscape irrigation audits as well as developing audit reports that can be used to help improve system performance.

Finally, applicants must pass an exam administered by the IA in order to become certified as a Certified Professional in Landscape Irrigation Auditing (CPLAIA). The exam consists of both multiple choice questions and scenario-based questions related to landscape irrigation auditing topics such as site evaluation, water budgeting, system design principles, soil moisture measurement techniques, and more.

7. Certified Professional in Turfgrass Management (CPTM)

Certified Professional in Turfgrass Management (CPTM) is a certification program offered by the Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS). It is designed to recognize turfgrass professionals who demonstrate a high level of knowledge and experience in the field of turfgrass management. This certification is recognized as an industry standard for excellence in turfgrass management.

The CPTM program consists of two parts: a written exam and a practical exam. The written exam tests knowledge on topics such as turfgrass selection, soil fertility, irrigation systems, pest control, and more. The practical exam tests skills related to turfgrass maintenance, including mowing, aeration, overseeding, fertilization, weed control, and more.

To become certified as a CPTM professional requires passing both the written and practical exams with a score of 70% or higher. The exams are offered twice per year at various locations throughout the United States. Candidates must register for the exams at least six weeks prior to the exam date.

The cost of taking the CPTM exams is $325 for both parts of the exam or $175 for either part alone. Candidates may also choose to purchase study materials from PGMS for an additional fee. Once certified as a CPTM professional, there is an annual recertification fee of $50 to maintain active status in the program.

8. Certified Crop Advisor (CCA)

Certified Crop Advisors (CCA) are professionals who have specialized knowledge and expertise in the field of crop production. They are trained to provide advice and guidance to farmers, agronomists, and other agricultural professionals on how to maximize crop yields while minimizing environmental impact. CCAs help farmers make decisions about fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation systems, soil management, pest control, and other aspects of crop production.

To become a Certified Crop Advisor, individuals must complete a rigorous two-year program that includes coursework in plant science and crop production as well as hands-on experience in the field. The program is administered by the American Society of Agronomy (ASA) and requires applicants to pass an exam that covers topics such as soil fertility management, weed control, pest management, irrigation systems, nutrient management plans, and more.

The cost of becoming a Certified Crop Advisor varies depending on the state you live in but typically ranges from $500-$1,000 for the two-year program. This includes the cost of tuition for courses as well as fees for taking the exam.

Once certified, CCAs must maintain their certification by completing continuing education credits every three years. These credits can be earned through attending conferences or workshops related to crop production or through online courses offered by the ASA or other organizations.

9. Certified Professional in Plant Nutrition (CPPN)

Certified Professional in Plant Nutrition (CPPN) is a professional certification program offered by the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI). It is designed to recognize individuals who have achieved a high level of knowledge and expertise in plant nutrition. The CPPN certification program is open to professionals from all backgrounds, including agronomists, crop consultants, soil scientists, extension agents, and others who work with plants and soils.

The CPPN certification process requires applicants to pass an online exam that covers topics such as plant nutrition principles, nutrient management strategies, soil fertility assessment techniques, and more. Applicants must also complete an application form and submit it to IPNI for review. Once accepted into the program, applicants must attend an approved training course or workshop before taking the final exam.

The entire process typically takes 6-12 months from start to finish. The cost of the CPPN certification program varies depending on the specific requirements of each applicant's situation but typically ranges from $500-$1000 USD.

10. Certified Plant Health Care Manager (CPHCM)

Certified Plant Health Care Manager (CPHCM) is a professional certification program that provides training and education in the principles of plant health care. The certification is offered by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA).

The CPHCM program consists of a three-day seminar, an examination, and a one-year apprenticeship. The seminar covers topics such as plant identification, pest management, soil science, plant nutrition, pruning techniques, and tree risk assessment. After completing the seminar and passing the exam with a score of 70% or higher, candidates are eligible to apply for their CPHCM apprenticeship.

The cost to become certified as a CPHCM is approximately $1,800 USD. This fee includes registration for the three-day seminar and exam plus materials such as textbooks and reference guides. It also covers the cost of membership in ISA for one year.

In order to get certified as a CPHCM, candidates must complete all requirements within two years from the date they register for their first course. Once all requirements have been met successfully, candidates will receive their official certificate from ISA.

11. Certified Sustainable Agriculture Practitioner (CSAP)

Certified Sustainable Agriculture Practitioner (CSAP) is a certification program designed to recognize and promote sustainable agriculture practices. It is intended to provide credentials for those working in the field of sustainable agriculture, from farmers and ranchers to researchers and extension agents.

The CSAP program requires applicants to demonstrate knowledge of sustainable agriculture principles and practices through a series of tests. The program consists of three levels: Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced. Each level has its own set of tests that must be passed in order to move on to the next level.

It typically takes between 6-12 months to complete the entire certification process. To get started, applicants must first submit an application along with a $100 fee. Once accepted into the program, applicants will then need to take and pass all required tests for each level before they can receive their certification as a Certified Sustainable Agriculture Practitioner.

The cost for the CSAP program varies depending on which level you are applying for. The Basic Level costs $500, the Intermediate Level costs $750, and the Advanced Level costs $1,000. All fees are non-refundable once paid.

Do You Really Need a Soil Scientist Certificate?

The answer to this question is ultimately up to you. A soil scientist certificate can provide various benefits that can help you succeed in your career. For instance, a soil scientist certificate can open up new job opportunities and allow you to work with specialists in the field of soil science. It also provides a formal way of demonstrating your knowledge and expertise in the field, which can be beneficial when seeking higher-level positions or promotions. Additionally, some employers may require a soil scientist certificate as part of their hiring process, so having one could give you an edge over other applicants without one.

However, it’s important to consider the cost and time associated with obtaining a soil scientist certification before making the decision to pursue it. Depending on where you live, there may be licensing requirements or other costs associated with getting certified. You also need to factor in the amount of time it will take for you to complete any required coursework or exams necessary for certification. Finally, if your current job does not require a soil scientist certificate, it might not be worth investing in one since it would likely not provide much benefit for that particular job.

Ultimately, the decision whether or not to get certified as a soil scientist should depend on your own individual needs and goals. If obtaining a soil scientist certification makes sense for your career path and will provide tangible benefits for your current or future jobs, then pursuing certification is definitely worth considering.

Related: Soil Scientist Resume Examples

FAQs About Soil Scientist Certifications

Q1: What is a Soil Scientist Certification?

A1: A Soil Scientist Certification is a professional credential that demonstrates an advanced level of knowledge and experience in soil science. It is awarded by the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA).

Q2: How do I become certified as a soil scientist?

A2: To become certified, you must first meet the SSSA's educational requirements, which include having a bachelor's degree in soil science or related field and at least one year of work experience as a soil scientist. Then, you must pass the SSSA certification exam.

Q3: What does the certification exam cover?

A3: The SSSA certification exam covers topics such as soil chemistry, physics, biology, fertility management, erosion control, land use planning and environmental protection.

Q4: How often do I need to renew my certification?

A4: Your certification must be renewed every three years by submitting proof of continuing education credits and/or professional development activities. You may also choose to take the recertification examination every three years in order to maintain your certification status.

Q5: Are there any benefits to being certified?

A5: Yes! Being certified as a soil scientist can give you an edge when seeking employment opportunities or promotions in your field. It also provides recognition from peers and employers that you have achieved an advanced level of knowledge and experience in soil science.