Do you love plants? Are you an avid gardener? Then, learning what a botanist is might lead you to the right career path. A botanist is someone that studies plants for a living. They look at how plants work and try to enhance crop yields.
Of course, they do much more than just study plants. This exciting field is helping to increase clean energy and come up with new medicines. If you’ve ever wondered what a botanist is and you think it could be a good career for you, it’s important to find out what they do. Let’s look at the common duties and the steps to become a botanist.
The Duties of a Botanist
A botanist studies plants. That is their main duty, but they do so much more than that. They look at the plants best suited for medicine, energy, and more.
As a botanist, you will work to figure out how plants can survive specific climates. How they are pollinated and the relationship between plants, the soil, and other organisms.
There are a few specialties in botany, as well, including:
- Agronomist – Someone that tests the best practices for soil management
- Forest Ecologist – Someone that studies the ecosystems found in the forest
- Mycologist – Someone that studies fungi
- Wetland Conservationist – Someone that works in the marshes, bogs, and swamps
It’s also possible to be a botanist that works in the Amazon rainforest.
As a botanist, you will track and locate any endangered plant species. You’ll also help to conserve and restore the habitat, especially in the rainforest. It’s common for botanists to review essays about rainfall and how soil affects plants.
Steps to Become a Botanist
Step #1 – Get a Bachelor’s Degree
As you go through high school, you should complete many science courses if you want to be a botanist. Take as many AP courses as you can and score high on the SAT or ACT. After that, you will want to get into a good college or university to open up more doors.
Getting your bachelor’s degree is a necessary step. It would help if you studied some science, such as plant science or botany. Expect plenty of classes in biology, chemistry, and physics. You will likely study plant anatomy, plant taxonomy, and genetics, as well.
If you have any chance to research with a faculty member, you should take advantage of it. This will help to ensure you can get an entry-level position in botany or move on to graduate studies.
Step #2 – Get your Master’s Degree
While it might not be necessary for some botany positions, a master’s degree opens up doors. With a master’s degree, you can study marine botany, conservation, ecology, or another specialty. This is your chance to choose your career path.
During your studies, work on your writing skills. Botanists will likely publish papers, so you want to be able to provide well-written articles and studies.
Step #3 – Get Your Ph.D.
Again, you don’t need a doctorate to become a botanist. However, it can help open up many doors in your future. For example, if you want to lead research for private companies or the government, this is your way in.
A doctoral degree will also allow you to teach at the university level. In addition, you can pursue a Ph.D. in a specialty area and even complete a teaching program. This is also a common time to get published in a peer-reviewed journal for research you have assisted on.
Step #4 – Join the Right Organizations
There are two specific organizations you should join as a botanist. First, the Botany Society of American is the right option for plant biology. They have an annual conference, awards, grants, training, and journals.
You can also choose to join The American Society of Plant Biologists. This society offers conferences and professional journals. They also have a section for Environmental and Ecological Plants Physiology.
Both organizations host job boards to help you find employment.
You can also consider the following organizations:
Top Benefits of Becoming a Botanist
Career Path You’re Passionate About
If you love plants, you will love this career. Very few people become botanists without a passion for the work. It would be best if you were passionate about studying plants. If you are, you will get to work in a career path that you’re passionate about.
It’s common for botanists to do a good amount of traveling. You might get to go to specific locations to test plants and collect samples. This can be an exciting benefit for this career.
Very Important Career
As a botanist, you will be in one of the most important careers. In some ways, your job is critical. Plants are used for health care, food, and many other human needs. Studying plants can help the entire world discover new medicines and better ways to create more food.
There are many benefits of becoming a botanist. These are just three of the most common.
Frequently Asked Questions About Botanists
How much do botanists make?
A botanist will make an average salary of around $60K per year. However, if you work as a plant scientist, the salary can be $93K per year.
The location where you work, your experience, and your job will determine your salary. Maryland and Mississippi have the highest average salary for botanists. Washington D.C. is not far behind, and Massachusetts has an above-average salary, as well.
How long will it take to become a botanist?
It will take at least four years to complete your bachelor’s degree. After you have completed your degree, you can go on to graduate school. Another option is to work as a technician or assistant for a few years.
If you want to advance to a senior role, expect to get your master’s degree. This will take another two years. Some may take 10 or more years to gain the necessary education and experience to gain a senior position.
Those seeking professor positions will need to get a Ph.D. This can take even longer. It may take as much as 11 to 13 years to truly become a botanist with the ability to apply for a professor position.
Where do botanists commonly work?
It’s common for a botanist to work for seed companies. They will likely research to create or enhance the properties of seeds. In addition, many botanists are found in product development departments for biotechnology firms or in genetic engineering. They also work for pharmaceutical companies.
Some botanists also work for parks, botanical gardens, and museums. Others become teachers at universities and colleges.
It’s common for a botanist to work indoors in a lab or office. However, some jobs will put you outside most of the time. It depends on the type of job you work. Most botanists will work a regular 40-hour workweek with some overtime.
Are botanists in high demand?
Yes, this career is expected to see a higher-than-average growth rate over the next ten years. It’s growing at about 14% right now, which is much higher than the average of all occupations.
What type of specializations are available for botanists?
As a botanist, you can specialize in many areas. For example, you can become a plant taxonomist, horticulturist, biotechnologist, or agronomist. These are all different positions within the same field.
As a plant taxonomist, you will work to find and identify new plants and species. Horticulturists work in the growing of plants and often manage gardens.
As a biotechnologist, you will research how plants can be used to provide useful products.
Agronomists will study agricultural plans and work with farmers.
What will it cost to become a botanist?
If you get a bachelor’s degree to become a botanist, expect to spend $8,000 to $45,000. It could even cost more. Going on to get a master’s degree will increase your job opportunities. This will cost another $6,000 to $22,000 per year.
Those looking to teach at the university level will need a doctorate. This will cost another $36,000 to $49,000. It can be expensive to become a botanist, but it is a high-paying career option.
Which Universities offer the best botany programs?
If you want to go to the top universities for botany, you may have to leave the United States. The University of British Columbia and the University of Queensland are two of the top choices. There are plenty of options in the United States, too, including:
- Purdue University
- University of Florida
- University of Maine
- University of Oklahoma
- University of Utah
Many other universities around the world offer great botany programs, as well. You can even study at the University of Hawaii, or one of the many others found all across the globe.