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A soil technician is a scientist who studies soil conditions in various places and makes recommendations about how that soil could best be used, improved or optimized. Soil sciences are very important to both the agricultural sector and the municipal industrial side of most city and local governments. His or her work usually is research-based but generally involves a lot of fieldwork, including collecting samples, making presentations, providing official advice and helping landowners understand and implement basic conservation techniques.
Soil science is a specialized form of Earth science that combines elements of topography and ecology with geology and chemistry. Technicians who have expertise in this area usually focus their careers on understanding erosion, looking at ways to maximize crop growth and finding ways to help buildings and other structures remain as secure and weather-resistant as possible. A soil technician is a person who has devoted his or her career to understanding how soil works and helping societies maximize it.
Regardless of the precise role that soil technicians play within organizations, their basic skill sets usually are comparable, and how they conduct their work usually is related. Soil technician duties almost always involve some fieldwork. This means that the technician must go out to see the soil, study the surroundings and gather samples.
Technicians usually take the samples back to a lab or central workspace, then study it and chemically extrapolate its properties. The technician will do research, analyze his or her findings and decide on a recommendation. The soil technician usually will present his or her conclusions to the people who make decisions for the company.
Independent research also is a part of many soil technicians' jobs, particularly in academia. Like most sciences, the field of soil studies depends on a constant cycle of research, analysis and publication as new trends and discoveries are uncovered. A technician might research soil conditions not for a particular site, but over the course of several similar and diverse sites to draw conclusions about the nature of certain soil conditions or the effects of particular climates or practices on soil strength. This research is often published or presented at national and international conferences.
National and local governments usually offer the highest numbers of soil technician jobs. The specific soil technician job description is likely to vary significantly from posting to posting but usually includes some form of expert research and advice-giving. Agencies hire technicians so that they can better understand how soil will be affected by proposed building projects, for instance, or whether plans for land conservation are actually feasible or even advisable.
Private companies often hire soil experts for similar purposes. Farm companies that are looking to maximize their crops might create soil technician jobs to get expert advice and professional readings, for instance. Construction firms might also need a soil scientist’s expertise when it comes to erecting structures on saturated land, in flood plains or near fault lines.