A botanist is a plant biologist who studies plants, of which there are over 300,000 species worldwide, ranging from microbes to gigantic redwoods. Botanists divide plants into groups, research plant physiology, and gather samples in remote areas. Graduate schools provide the skills necessary for research projects and university teaching, while bachelor’s degrees prepare students for jobs as lab technicians or technical support personnel.
Botanist Education Requirements
Take biology courses at the college level, particularly those that focus on plants or plant science. If your college or institution offers a botany degree, you should take advantage of it. A major in ecology, plant biology, general biology, or natural sciences will provide enough training for a career as a botanist. Physics, chemistry, statistics, calculus, and computers are required as additional scientific subjects in college.
Additional Botanist Education Requirements
Most colleges encourage all students to take courses outside of their major to have a well-rounded education. English, social sciences, humanities, and the arts all contribute to a broadening of botanists’ education. Many colleges also demand a foreign language course or two. Choose a language spoken in the area where you intend to work if your plans involve botany fieldwork in a foreign nation.
Research and Internships
Summer jobs that use your plant biology knowledge and skills are a wonderful opportunity to supplement your classroom education while also building relationships and contacts in the field. Botany internships are available in college agricultural stations, extension offices, university laboratories, and private companies. Even as an undergrad, contact botany professors and ask if you may help in a research project throughout the school year. Internships and research projects may both help you select which specialization in botany you want to pursue.
If you decide to pursue a graduate degree, look for a university that performs the kind of research you want to do. Choose an institution that closely resembles the field of study that most interests you. After completing undergraduate studies, a master’s degree requires an additional two years of study. A doctorate degree, or Ph.D., is the highest level of education for botanists and typically takes two to three years to complete after completing a master’s degree. Botanists with a master’s degree may find work in applied research, but those with a Ph.D. can undertake independent research or head research teams, as well as teaching jobs in university botany departments.
Salary and Job Outlook
Botanists have a variety of career options, according to the Environmental Science website. As per the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the current job growth rate is 8 to 14%, which is average or slightly over average when compared to other occupations.
Although certain occupations are covered in broad categories rather than being mentioned specifically, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics collects data and provides projections for most civilian jobs. Botanists are categorized in a variety of ways, with the following median incomes given for 2020:
- Agricultural and Food Scientists: $68,830
- Conservation Foresters and Scientists: $64,010
- Post-secondary teachers: $80,560
- Plant and Soil Scientists: $70,630