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Soil and Water Conservationist

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What Does it Take to Be a Soil and Water Conservationist?

Occupation Description Plan or develop coordinated practices for soil erosion control, soil or water conservation, or sound land use.

Life As a Soil and Water Conservationist

  • Gather information from geographic information systems (GIS) databases or applications to formulate land use recommendations.
  • Compile or interpret biodata to determine extent or type of wetlands or to aid in program formulation.
  • 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 water conservation or harvest plans, using weather information systems, irrigation information management systems, or other sources of daily evapotranspiration (ET) data.
  • Manage field offices or involve staff in cooperative ventures.
  • Review proposed wetland restoration easements or provide technical recommendations.

What a Soil and Water Conservationist Should Know

When polled, Soil and Water Conservationists say the following skills are most frequently used in their jobs:

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.

Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

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

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

Speaking: 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.

Other Soil and Water Conservationist Job Titles

  • Resource Conservationist
  • Land Use Planner
  • Conservation Agent
  • Filter Changing Technician
  • Erosion Control Coordinator

Soil and Water Conservationist Employment Estimates

In the United States, there were 22,300 jobs for Soil and Water Conservationist in 2016. New jobs are being produced at a rate of 6.3% which is above the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 1,400 new jobs for Soil and Water Conservationist by 2026. There will be an estimated 2,000 positions for Soil and Water Conservationist per year.


The states with the most job growth for Soil and Water Conservationist are Colorado, New Hampshire, and Utah. Watch out if you plan on working in Rhode Island, New Mexico, or Maryland. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

How Much Does a Soil and Water Conservationist Make?

The typical yearly salary for Soil and Water Conservationists is somewhere between $34,020 and $98,450.


Soil and Water Conservationists who work in Connecticut, Alaska, or New Jersey, make the highest salaries.

How much do Soil and Water Conservationists make in each U.S. state?

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $59,310
Alaska $93,390
Arizona $71,190
Arkansas $70,630
California $75,980
Colorado $71,170
Connecticut $87,710
Delaware $55,300
Florida $40,620
Georgia $69,390
Hawaii $68,360
Idaho $66,510
Illinois $63,840
Indiana $63,320
Iowa $56,820
Kansas $68,910
Kentucky $67,440
Louisiana $61,430
Maine $61,970
Maryland $79,070
Massachusetts $72,200
Michigan $63,460
Minnesota $72,650
Mississippi $54,870
Missouri $57,580
Montana $64,480
Nebraska $65,300
Nevada $61,670
New Hampshire $72,160
New Jersey $85,360
New Mexico $68,710
North Carolina $61,780
North Dakota $64,900
Ohio $55,550
Oklahoma $64,330
Oregon $76,790
Pennsylvania $55,200
South Carolina $56,220
South Dakota $62,390
Tennessee $68,440
Texas $57,990
Utah $63,720
Vermont $55,150
Virginia $75,370
Washington $65,120
West Virginia $50,210
Wisconsin $65,610
Wyoming $71,180

What Tools do Soil and Water Conservationists Use?

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Soil and Water Conservationists:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Web browser software
  • Microsoft Access
  • Email software
  • Word processing software
  • Microsoft Windows
  • Autodesk AutoCAD
  • Adobe Systems Adobe Acrobat
  • Geographic information system GIS software
  • ESRI ArcView
  • Microsoft Active Server Pages ASP
  • ESRI ArcInfo
  • ESRI ArcGIS software
  • Autodesk Maya
  • Clover Technology GALENA
  • State Soil Geographic STATSGO Database

How to Become a Soil and Water Conservationist

What education or degrees do I need to become a Soil and Water Conservationist?


What work experience do I need to become a Soil and Water Conservationist?


Soil and Water Conservationists Sector


The table below shows the approximate number of Soil and Water Conservationists employed by various industries.


Those thinking about becoming a Soil and Water Conservationist might also be interested in the following careers:

Those who work as a Soil and Water Conservationist sometimes switch careers to one of these choices:


Image Credit: Lynn Betts via Photo by Lynn Betts, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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