What’s in a soil science certification?

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Guest column by Marta McCoy

NACD has been a partner to the Tri-Societies (made up of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America) for decades. Not only do these organizations share many of the same values and philosophies – especially when it comes to the efficacy of science-based soil management practices – they also share an audience, and in some cases, membership.

Most recently in December 2016, NACD, the Tri-Societies, NRCS, and a host of agribusinesses and other agriculture-based member associations entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to enhance and accelerate the transfer and adoption of technologies and approaches for improved agricultural production and natural resource stewardship.

One of the many ways the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) helps to advance the goals of the MOU has been through its certification programs for soil science professionals. These programs set standards for knowledge, skills, and conduct that private and public employers can trust and rely on.

Who should be certified?
An individual whose education, experience, and career path is in some aspect of the soil science profession and can meet the standards of the program, including:

  • Soil science practitioners
  • Government staff and conservationists
  • Educators and extension specialists
  • Soil science researchers
  • Environmental, natural resource, or agronomic management personnel
  • Anyone required by the state to be certified as a CPSS and doing soil science work for land use evaluation (eg. on-site septic systems, development, agricultural management plans)

What certification is right for me?

  • Associate Professional Soil Scientist (APSS): Minimum BS degree in Soils or related area (15.0 semester credits), no experience needed
  • Certified Professional Soil Scientist (CPSS): Minimum BS degree in Soils or related area (15.0 semester credits), 5 yrs post BS or 3 yrs MS/PhD
  • Certified Soil Technician (CST): Minimum Associate’s degree in Soils or related area (7.0 semester credits), 3 yrs post AS, 2 yrs post BS/MS/PhD

All certifications require passing the soil science exam. Click here to find the application for APSS, CPSS, and CST, along with other information about the program.

Marta McCoy is the certifications program manager for the American Society of Agronomy – Soil Science Society of America. She can be reached by email at mmccoy@soils.org.

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