How to Become a Botanist

A botanist is a scientist dedicated to understanding and researching all forms of plant life.

If you’re interested in biology and botany, have good academic skills, and enjoy research then you might like to become a botanist.

Botany is a branch of biology, which is interested in plants, algae, and fungi.

In total, there are over 550,000 species of plant that a botanist may study.

A botanist may study the growth, reproduction, structure, or diseases that affect a plant.

There are many types of jobs that you might take up as a botanist.

Some work as research assistants or as lab technicians.

Others work as teachers and researchers at colleges.

Some work for independent companies.

The type of education you get will determine the type of job you can take on as a botanist.

Education Requirements to Become a Botanist

To become a botanist, you will need to complete a lot of education.

If you’re still at high school, you should concentrate on getting good grades in science, in particular biology.

A part-time job in a nursery is a good way to start gaining experience and exposure.

After high school you will need to complete a four year bachelor’s degree in biology, botany, or plant science.

The college you attend should have a strong program in botany.

The better their program, the more opportunity you will have.

If you are interested as a position as a research assistant or a lab technician, an undergraduate degree should be sufficient.

However, if you are interested in teaching as a college professor and conducting your own research, then you will need to complete a doctorate.

While you’re at college, volunteering as an assistant for other people’s research work is a good idea.

So are summer internships if you have the opportunity.

The web site for the Botanical Society of America is a good source of further information about the subject of Botany.

Botanist Job Description

When you become a botanist, you will most likely specialize within a particular field of botany.

Botany as a subject is broad, and because of this, most botanists are experts in one particular area.

A marine botanist studies ocean life, for example.

Different kinds of botanists also focus on the different functions of plants.

Some may look at the way that plants reproduce, others the way they metabolize food.

Many botanists are employed as college professors, where they teach and research.

Others may be employed by a museum or botanical gardens.

Here their work may be closely tied to the community, where they will take an educational approach to the world of botany.

Some botanists are employed by private industry.

For instance, they could work for a pharmaceutical company where they research plants to find cures for illnesses and create new drugs.

Here are some of the tasks you could be responsible for when you become a botanist:

  • Conducting field research
  • Conducting laboratory research
  • Writing reports
  • Publishing papers
  • Teaching students

Botanist Salary and Career Path

When you become botanist, your first paid job will likely be as a research assistant.

Once you have completed your undergraduate degree you will be able to get this kind of work.

May do research work part-time while they gain a further qualification.

With a master’s degree, you could secure a job with more responsibility, for instance at a museum or working within private industry.

A doctorate will allow you to work as a college professor.

The median salary for a botanist is $62,000 a year.

This takes into account those working in labs as assistants as well as college professors.

There is quite a bit of variation in salary within this occupation.

Some similar roles to that of a botanist you might be interested include:

If you are interested in science and plants, and looking for a research-based career then you might like to consider working as a botanist.

Although there is a lot of education needed for this field, working with a topic that you are passionate about is a great reward.

There is also the opportunity to contribute new knowledge and research to the field.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a botanist do?

A botanist is a biological scientist who studies plants.

These professionals usually specialize in one type or a certain group of plants (there are over three hundred thousand species!); botanists can also focus on one approach to the study of plants.

As a result, there are a lot of different types of botanists.

Agronomists, for example, specialize in the study of agricultural crops; plant taxonomists identify and classify the plants; marine botanists focus on the species that grow in the ocean, and so on.

A botanist can work in colleges, universities; in such fields as conservation, horticulture, agriculture, forestry, agronomy, etc.

These scientists can help us develop new food sources and even find treatments for such diseases as…cancer!

How much do botanists make?

On average, a botanist can make a little less than $50.000 per year in the United States.

In case you decide to follow this career path, you can expect to earn anywhere between $31.000 and $99.000 annually.

The salary would certainly depend on a variety of factors – your education and experience level, the employer, the location and so on.

An entry-level botanist can expect to earn $10 per hour, while specialists with years of experience can make $40 per hour.

How much does it cost to become a botanist?

You would certainly need a bachelor’s degree in botany or biology, in order to become a botanist.

A year in a university can cost you anywhere between $8.000 and $45.000 (and more); the cost depends on a variety of factors (the books, supplies, and accommodation expenses are not included).

To improve job prospects, you should go for a master’s degree in an area of botany ($6.000-$22.000 per year).

Those who want to become university professors and conduct independent research should have a doctorate degree ($36.000-$49.000).

What is the demand for botanists?

Between 2018 and 2028, the agricultural and food scientist job market is expected to grow by 7%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That is as fast as the national average for all occupations in the United States.

Expect to face high competition rates for research positions.

The candidates that possess a graduate degree and have some experience in the industry will have the best job prospects.

How long does it take to become a botanist?

It will take you 4 years to obtain a bachelor’s degree.

A bachelor’s degree should be enough to qualify for entry-level positions (like a biological technician or a technical writer, for example).

A master’s degree will typically take you 2 years to obtain (you can then go for certain teaching and applied research positions), while a doctorate degree will require 3-7 years (a Ph.D. is a must if you want to become a university professor or an administrator).

The majority of employers would prefer you to have a couple of years of experience in the industry.

The sooner you decide what sub-discipline you want to specialize in, the better.

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