Become Certified

Soil Scientists in the Field


Certified Professional Soil Scientist

Certification is the standard by which soil science professionals are judged. SSSA's Certified Professional Soil Scientist (CPSS) certification program sets and maintains the high standards that benefit you and your chosen career. The SSSA certification programs are voluntary and offer similar benefits to the public as licensing programs. Certification programs set standards for knowledge, skills, and conduct. These standards define the professions of soil science and soil classification which gives clients, employers, and government agencies a tool to help them choose professionals with the necessary skills to meet their needs.

Benefits of Certification

As a professional working in soil science, you care as much about protecting the environment as you do about furthering your career. The CPSS certification program provides you with the tools you need to succeed in both areas. Earning certification brings you opportunity, recognition, and respect.


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? Review the CPSS brochure for more information or to distribute to anyone interested in the certification. 


Steps to Certification:

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

  Exam to Pass Education Experience
Certified Professional Soil Scientist (CPSS) Fundamentals of Soil Science and Professional Practice Minimum B.S. degree in soils or related area (15 Credit hours) 5 yrs post B.S. 3 yrs post M.S./Ph.D.
Associate Professional Soil Scientist (APSS) Fundamentals of Soil Science Minimum B.S. degree in soils or related area Upon Graduation

The following steps detail the necessary items to complete to become certified as a professional soil scientist (APSS or CPSS):

  1. Read and understand all of the policies, procedures, and standards of the certification.
  2. Submit the Application and Credential Forms and be approved by the Soils Certifying Board prior to sitting for the examinations.  
  3. Pass both the Fundamentals of Soil Science and Professional Practice Examinations (view Exam Registration Information). Note - The Fundamentals exam can be taken if you have at least a Junior standing in a Soil Science Program. Once you have passed the Fundamentals exam, you can apply for the Associate Professional Soil Scientist (APSS) Certification. If you have at least 5 years experience with at least a Bachelor of Science Degree majoring in soil science, or 3 years with an MS or Ph.D., you can apply for the Certified Professional Soil Scientist (CPSS) and be preapproved to sit for the Professional Practice exam. Taking the Professional Practice exam is the last step in the certification process. 
  4. Sign and agree to uphold the Soils Code of Ethics
  5. Check your APSS or CPSS credentials that have been submitted for your application.
  • Once Certified:  Individuals earn 30 hours of continuing education (CEUs) every two years and 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


Fall 2016 Exam
November 18, 2016

Registration has closed for the November 2016 exam.

Spring 2017 Exam
April 21, 2017

Registration Dates:
January 16 - March 10, 2017