SOIL CONSERVATION TECHNICIAN - Description
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Soil conservation technicians help protect the environment by conserving land and water. They reclaim and restore soil and water to increase crop yields as well as to preserve wildlife. Out in the field, they collect soil samples, make notes, and map problem areas. They perform engineering surveys and work directly with farmers and other land users to help design and implement irrigation and drainage systems, terraces, grassed waterways, and other projects to protect valuable soil from erosion. They closely monitor land-use projects to insure their practices are working.
Most soil conservation technicians work for the federal government. They assist conservationists and engineers in agencies like the Soil Conservation Service, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Bureau of Federal Reclamation. Many other soil conservation technicians do similar work for county and state governments. Other soil conservation technicians work for private companies like public utilities, banks and loan agencies, and mining and steel companies.
There are many kinds of soil conservation technicians. Physical science technician aides are out in the field, studying the soil, gathering data, and mapping land. Range technicians gather data and assess erosion hazards for the country's rangelands where cattle and other animals graze. Surveying technicians map out fields and lay out construction. Engineering technician aides measure acreage, conduct field tests, and help construct dams and irrigation projects. Cartographic survey technicians work with mapmakers to survey public lands, identify prominent land features, and help determine the best use of land.
Soil conservation technicians generally work about forty hours a week, though they may work longer days if there's a natural disaster, such as a hurricane or flood. They spend much of their time outdoors in the field, often on farms. Although they usually drive to work sites, they often walk great distances. They may travel long distances. Part of their time is spent indoors, preparing written surveys and studies.
Soil conservation technicians have to be familiar with water and soil. They must also understand mapping techniques and know how to use surveying instruments and other technical tools of the trade.
Although working as a soil conservation technician is a hands-on job, you'll also need to be a good communicator. You'll have to enjoy writing and using computers since you'll have to write clear reports on your data and tests. You'll also have a lot of contact with other people. You have to be friendly and be able to speak clearly. You'll work closely with conservationists and engineers, explaining your surveys and findings and helping to lay out and build land-reclamation projects. You'll also work closely with farmers and other land users as you explain complex problems and solutions in language they can easily understand.