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 both the Fundamentals of Soil Science and the Professional Practice exams. Exams are offered twice per year in a range of locations across the United States and Canada. In addition, some states use these exams for licensing and 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.
As of February 1, 2012 an applicant must apply to take the Professional Practice Exam by demonstrating to the Soils Certifying Board that all other requirements for certification are complete. This means the Soils Certifying Board must approve an applicant’s full application prior to being allowed to sit for the exam as taking and passing the exam is the last step in the certification process. Exception: If you are seeking licensure, you do not have to apply for certification before taking the Professional Practice Exam.
Exam Registration Information
Certification as a Certified Professional Soil Scientist (CPSS) requires passing both the Fundamentals of Soil Science and Professional Practice Examinations. The requirements for certification for both CPSS and Associate Professional Soil Scientist (APSS) are below. The associate status is targeted for soil scientists in training after graduation who do not have the required work experience.
|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|
|Fundamentals||Junior standing at a college or university||$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 and pre-approval of CPSS certification)
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. There is also a study guide available for a fee. Note that the study guide is just that, a guide. It is recommended that the exam candidate work through the performance objectives and use study guides and additional resources as supplemental information.
- Fundamentals Exam Performance Objectives
- Professional Practice Exam Performance Objectives
- Online Fundamentals Exam Prep Course
- Study Guides
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.