Soil and Water Conservationists

Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics > Science and Mathematics

Projected Growth: Average

Projected Job Openings

Considerable Preparation Needed

Job Description

Your job is to Plan or develop coordinated practices for soil erosion control, soil or water conservation, or sound land use.

Common job titles of Soil and Water Conservationists include:

Experience and Education

A considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is needed for this occupation. For example, a person in this occupation must complete four years of college and work for several years in industry to be considered qualified.

  • 66.67% said they needed a Bachelor's Degree.

  • 14.29% said they needed a Associate's Degree.


    Manage field offices or involve staff in cooperative ventures.

    Apply principles of specialized fields of science, such as agronomy, soil science, forestry, or agriculture, to achieve conservation objectives.

    Compute design specifications for implementation of conservation practices, using survey or field information, technical guides or engineering manuals.

    Implement soil or water management techniques, such as nutrient management, erosion control, buffers, or filter strips, in accordance with conservation plans.

    Plan soil management or conservation practices, such as crop rotation, reforestation, permanent vegetation, contour plowing, or terracing, to maintain soil or conserve water.

    Participate on work teams to plan, develop, or implement programs or policies for improving environmental habitats, wetlands, or groundwater or soil resources.

    Visit areas affected by erosion problems to identify causes or determine solutions.

    Gather information from geographic information systems (GIS) databases or applications to formulate land use recommendations.

    Compute cost estimates of different conservation practices, based on needs of land users, maintenance requirements, or life expectancy of practices.

    Survey property to mark locations or measurements, using surveying instruments.

    Revisit land users to view implemented land use practices or plans.

    Monitor projects during or after construction to ensure projects conform to design specifications.

    Develop or maintain working relationships with local government staff or board members.

    Develop, conduct, or participate in surveys, studies, or investigations of various land uses to inform corrective action plans.

    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.

    Advise land users, such as farmers or ranchers, on plans, problems, or alternative conservation solutions.

    Enter local soil, water, or other environmental data into adaptive or Web-based decision tools to identify appropriate analyses or techniques.

    Conduct fact-finding or mediation sessions among government units, landowners, or other agencies to resolve disputes.

    Review or approve amendments to comprehensive local water plans or conservation district plans.

    Respond to complaints or questions on wetland jurisdiction, providing information or clarification.

    Provide information, knowledge, expertise, or training to government agencies at all levels to solve water or soil management problems or to assure coordination of resource protection activities.

    Analyze results of investigations to determine measures needed to maintain or restore proper soil management.

    Develop or conduct environmental studies, such as plant material field trials or wildlife habitat impact studies.

    Develop water conservation or harvest plans, using weather information systems, irrigation information management systems, or other sources of daily evapotranspiration (ET) data.

    Compile or interpret biodata to determine extent or type of wetlands or to aid in program formulation.

    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.

    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.

    Provide access to programs or training to assist in completion of government groundwater protection plans.

    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 proposed wetland restoration easements or provide technical recommendations.

    Initiate, schedule, or conduct annual audits or compliance checks of program implementation by local government.

    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.


Water samplers

Total stations


Personal computers

Laser distance measurement systems

Laptop computers

Global positioning system GPS receivers

All Tools

Dutch augers

Dumpy levels

Digital cameras

Desktop computers


Adobe Systems Adobe Acrobat

Autodesk AutoCAD

ESRI ArcGIS software

Geographic information system GIS software

Microsoft Active Server Pages ASP

Microsoft Windows

Autodesk Maya

All Technologies

Clover Technology GALENA


CropSyst Suite

Datasurge GEOPRO

Delft GeoSystems MStab

Email software

ESRI ArcInfo

ESRI ArcView




Interstudio Geo-Tec B

Landscape Management System LMS

Mitre Software GSLOPE

Salix Applied Earthcare Erosion Draw

State Soil Geographic STATSGO Database

Studio of Analytical Models STANMOD

U.S. Department of Agriculture USDA Forest Vegetation Simulator FVS

U.S. Department of Agriculture USDA WinSRM

Water resources databases

Water Soil and Hydro-Environmental Decision Support System WATERSHEDSS

Web browser software



Reading Comprehension

Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Active Listening

Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.


Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Complex Problem Solving

Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.


Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Critical Thinking

Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.


Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.


Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Judgment and Decision Making

Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.


Using mathematics to solve problems.

Social Perceptiveness

Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

Service Orientation

Actively looking for ways to help people.

Systems Analysis

Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.

Time Management

Managing one's own time and the time of others.

Active Learning

Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.


Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.

Systems Evaluation

Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.


Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.


Teaching others how to do something.

Operations Analysis

Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.


Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.

Management of Personnel Resources

Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.


Listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.

Cognitive Abilities › Verbal Abilities › Oral Comprehension

Read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.

Cognitive Abilities › Verbal Abilities › Written Comprehension

Communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.

Cognitive Abilities › Verbal Abilities › Oral Expression

Tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.

Cognitive Abilities › Idea Generation and Reasoning Abilities › Problem Sensitivity

Apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

Cognitive Abilities › Idea Generation and Reasoning Abilities › Deductive Reasoning

Combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).

Cognitive Abilities › Idea Generation and Reasoning Abilities › Inductive Reasoning

See details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).

Sensory Abilities › Visual Abilities › Near Vision

Speak clearly so others can understand you.

Auditory and Speech Abilities › Sensory Abilities › Speech Clarity

Communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

Cognitive Abilities › Verbal Abilities › Written Expression

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