The exams for the Certified Professional Soil Scientist certification and state Soil Scientist licensing programs are developed and maintained by the Council of Soil Science Examiners (CSSE). The certification program, in its entirety, is overseen by the Soils Certifying Board of the Soil Science Society of America.
To achieve certification as a Certified Professional Soil Scientist (CPSS), you are required to pass the Fundamentals of Soil Science exam. Exams are offered twice per year in a range of locations across the United States and Canada. There may be different deadlines in these states (learn more at Licensing Information).
You must pass the Fundamentals of Soil Science Exam before you can take the Professional Practice Exam. You may only take one exam per exam date.
Please note: As of January 1, 2017, the passing of the Professional Practice exam is no longer required for CPSS certification. If you work in a soil science licensing state, you must follow that state's licensure program, which requires the taking and passing of the Professional Practice exam. Please check the list of licensure states here.
Exam Registration Information
Certification as a Certified Professional Soil Scientist (CPSS), Associate Professional Soil Scientist (APSS), and Certified Soil Technician (CST) requires passing Fundamentals of Soil Science Examination, along with approval of credentials by the Soils Certifying Board. The associate status is targeted for soil scientists in training after graduation who do not have the required work experience for the CPSS. The requirements for certification for all certifications are below.
|Exam to Pass||Education||Experience|
|Certified Professional Soil Scientist (CPSS)||Fundamentals of Soil Science||Min BS degree in Soils or related area (15.0 semester hours)||5 yrs post BS, 3 yrs post MS/PhD|
|Associate Professional Soil Scientist (APSS)||Fundamentals of Soil Science||Min BS degree in Soils or related area (15.0 semester hours)||Upon graduation|
|NEW! Certified Soil Technician (CST)||Fundamentals of Soil Science||Min Associate's degree (7.0 semester hours)||3 yrs post Associate's, 2 yrs post BS/MS/PhD|
|Fundamentals||Junior standing at a college or university or Associate's Degree||$195|
|Professional Practice||B.S. - 5 yrs of soils or related experience
M.S. or PhD - 3 yrs of soils experience
(successful completion of the Fundamental Exam is required)
You may cancel at any time up to the registration deadline. Note that you will only receive a refund for any amount over $75.00. The exam fee is non-refundable after the registration deadline. This also applies to retest applications.
Exam participants must provide a #2 pencil to mark their answers on the answer sheet. NO exam materials are allowed in the exam site including hand held computers of any type including but not limited to laptops, palm pilots, advanced memory function calculators, etc. Calculators that perform simple math functions will be provided.
Study Materials and Resources
Soil Science Performance Objectives
The exams are based on performance objectives developed by the Council of Soil Science Examiners. It is recommended that the exam candidate work through the performance objectives and additional resources as supplemental information.
- Fundamentals Exam Performance Objectives
- Professional Practice Exam Performance Objectives
- Online Fundamentals Exam Prep Course
Additional Study Suggestions/Resources
Note that SSSA and CSSE do not endorse any specific publication, website or material for study.
Frequently Asked Questions
View our Frequently Asked Questions for additional information on the exams.
Please contact Marta McCoy by phone at 608-268-4955 or email with any additional questions.