How To Become A Botanist
Botany is the study of plants. It is a branch of biology. A botanist studies plants, including different species, how they thrive in their own ecosystem, and the role they play on our planet. A botanist may work for a private company. A botanist may work for the government, or for a research organization. They may work in a laboratory, conducting experiments. Others are more actively involved in field work, which means being outdoors. Becoming a botanist requires several years of education, depending on which kind of position a person wants to obtain.
Why Become A Botanist
There are more than 410,000 species of plants in the world. That is a lot of plants! Plants play an important part on this planet. Humans could not survive without plants, because they are an important part of our food source, and give us the oxygen needed to survive. Together, humans and plants work in harmony as part of the ecosystem.
Botany is a multidisciplinary career field. There are many career pathways to choose from if a person wants to become involved in botany. A biological technician is an entry-level job in this field, available to those interested in botany. In this career, you will help scientists conduct experiments and tests. Your job is that of an assistant, helping to set up and clean laboratory equipment, prepare samples, and analyze data. Microbiologists are another career choice within this field. They study bacteria, viruses, algae, and fungi, and how these affect plants. An environmental scientist specializes in natural sciences such as biology, geology, and chemistry, and uses their knowledge to help protect the environment. They are interested in protecting plants and educating others about sustainable practices. A soil and plant scientist works with plants, conducting research on the production, breeding, yield, and management of crops and plants. They research best practices for helping to grow plants.
This is a good career choice for somebody who loves plants and working outdoors, who has a scientific mind and likes conducting research, and is committed to environmentalism.
Botanists should possess the following qualities and skills:
- Love the outdoors
- Likes plants and flowers
- Enjoys research
- Critical thinker
- Detail oriented
Botanist Work Environment
Botanists can work in a variety of different work settings, depending on the nature of their job. Many work in laboratory settings and offices. In this setting, they work with laboratory equipment, conducting experiments, analyzing results, and reporting their findings. They work in teams with other scientists, such as other botanists, biologists, chemists, and computer scientists. Some botanists are actively involved in fieldwork and agricultural work. These people spend much of their time working outdoors. They may plant, prune, harvest and work with plants. They may observe plants over time, analyze them, perform tests and collect data on them. This is a full time position.
The median salary for botanists was $62,920 in 2016, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.
A botanist with several years of job experience may attract a higher salary than somebody with less experience. With promotion and more years of experience, salary may increase. A botanist who has a more advanced degree or additional certifications may earn a higher salary. There are many specializations within this field, and somebody who has become specialized in their field may earn higher wages. These are just a few things to consider when discussing salary.
Botanist Career Outlook
Employment for botanists is expected to grow by 5 percent from 2014 to 2024, which is slower than average, compared to other occupations in the United States.
Science will always be a field that is needed and that there is a strong amount of investment in. More botanists will be needed to do research in this field, study plants and their importance in our lives. More advanced employment opportunities will be available for those who choose to seek out doctorates and other advanced degrees. Budgetary concerns may restrict the number of positions available for botanists, as well as the number of research grant funds available.
If you are interested in a career as a botanist, read below for more information.
Step 1: Undergraduate education. A bachelor’s degree is required for a job in this field. There are many college majors to choose from, including botany, agriculture, plant science, biology, environmental science, forestry, horticulture, and more. Choose a college that has a strong program in these fields. Courses in science and math will give you a strong foundation. With a bachelor’s degree, you are able to get a career as an environmental scientist, microbiologist, or a biological technician. It takes four years to receive your bachelor’s degree.
Step 2: Graduate education. If you are interested in a career as a biochemist or biophysicist within the field of botany, you need a bit more education. These career paths require a doctorate in botany, biochemistry or biology. Research colleges that have strong programs in these fields. Apply to programs, get accepted, and enroll. During your doctoral program you will take courses dealing with advanced practices in botany. You will also be able to conduct your own individual research in your field. It takes about six years to complete a PhD.