Soil Scientists in the Field

Certified Professional Soil Scientist

Certification defines the profession through standards. These standards describe the knowledge, skills and conduct that clients, employers and government agencies can use to identify appropriate professionals. SSSA's Certified Professional Soil Scientist (CPSS) certification program sets and maintains the high standards that benefit you and your clients in your chosen career. It begins with a Bachelor's Degree with 5 years of soils experience and having at least 15.0 semester credits of soils coursework.

NEW in 2017--Certified Soil Technician

This certification is for those who do some work in soil science but do not meet the full requirements for certification as CPSS. It begins with an Associate's Degree with 3 years of experience and having at least 7.0 semester credits of soils coursework.  This certification is not offered in states with soil science licensing programs (including Illinois).

Benefits of Certification

Earning certification brings you credibility, opportunity, motivation, ability, and validation. As a professional working in soil science, you care as much about serving your clients as you do about furthering your career. The CPSS or CST certification provides you with the tools you need to succeed in both areas.

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
  • Educators and extension specialists
  • Soil science researchers
  • Government and academic scientists
  • Soil scientists working in environmental, natural resource, or agronomic management companies
  • Anyone required by the state to be certified as a CPSS or Certified Professional Soil Classifier (CPSC) when doing soil science work for land use evaluation (eg. septic systems or agricultural managment plans).

Interested in learning more about certification? Feel free to contact our office


Steps to Certification:

The following table provides an overview of the requirements for certification:

Exam to Pass
Certified Professional Soil Scientist (CPSS)
Fundamentals of Soil Science
Minimum BS degree in Soils or related area (15.0 semester credits)
5 yrs post BS or 3 yrs MS/PhD
Associate Professional Soil Scientist (APSS)
Fundamentals of Soil Science
Minimum BS degree in Soils or related area (15.0 semester credits)
Not needed/Experience gained post degree
Certified Soil Technician (CST)
Fundamentals of Soil Science
Minimum Associate's degree in Soils or related area (7.0 semester credits
3 yrs post AS, 2 yrs post BS/MS/PhD

The following steps detail the necessary items to complete to become certified as APSS, CPSS, or CST:

  1. Submit the APSS or CPSS credential forms or CST credential forms and be approved by the Soils Certifying Board prior to sitting for the examination.  
  2. Sign and agree to uphold the Soils Code of Ethics
  3. Check that your credentials that have been submitted for your application.
  4. Be pre-approved for the certification and to sit for the Fundamentals of Soil Science and Professional Practice Examinations (view Exam Registration Information). Pass the Fundamentals and/or Professional Practice exams. Note - The Professional Practice exam is still required for licensure purposes. Please visit the Licensing State Information section below for more details. 
  • Once Certified:  CPSS individuals earn 30 hours of continuing education (CEUs) every two years, and CST individuals earn 25 hours of CEUs. APSS, CPSS, and CST all pay an annual maintenance fee. 

Please keep in mind that University degrees and transcripts must be in English and based on the United States educational standard. If you need assistance in the translation process, you may use Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc. or World Education Services


Licensing State Information:

All successful certification programs have one common element and that is to serve and protect the public interest. Many professions require a license to practice such as in medicine, engineering, and accounting. A license is basically a certification program offered by the state. If a profession is licensed, it is generally required that a person have a license to practice in that profession.

Some states that have licensure programs use the Fundamentals and Professional Practice exams.  These states include Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. If you are taking the Professional Practice exam for licensure only, you do not have to pre-apply using the certification application.  You should, however, check with your state licensure contact if there are special registering instructions, applications, etc.


Steps to Creating Licensure Programs:

The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) with help from licensed soil scientists is working to get soil science licensing established in various states.


"When an individual goes through the certification process, our partners and the public can be assured that they are getting information and advice from experts in the field of soil science."

--Matt Deaton, CPSS


Important Information

Next Exam Date: 
November 16, 2018

Registration Dates: 
August 13 - October 5, 2018

April 2019 Exam Date: 
April 12, 2019

Registration Dates: 
January 7 - March 1, 2019