What Does A Botanist Do (including Their Typical Day at Work)

Alyssa OmandacCareer, Overview

Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz


Botanists are plant experts. They study the evolution and reproduction of plants and the relationships between plants and the environment. Botanists may carry out research in the field, analyze data, or write reports about their research.

Bachelor's degree
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Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.Confucius

Botany is a broad field as it covers the study of all plants including mosses, fungi, algae, ferns, and bacteria. Botanists may specialize in specific plant kingdoms and can seek employment in a variety of industries.

The job duties of a Botanist vary depending on the position but typically include the testing of various forms of plant life. Botanists in all roles tend to spend much of their time collecting plant samples and analyzing them in a laboratory setting.

Botanists may choose to work for government agencies such as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). They can also find employment with private companies, helping to develop better foods, medicines, or fibers. Conservationist Botanists apply their knowledge to help protect forests, parks, and wilderness.

As with many technical careers, there is a growing demand for Botanists. It is a potentially lucrative career path with stable employment prospects. Here is a closer look at what they do and what it takes to become one.

What they do

Botanists are plant experts. They study the evolution and reproduction of plants and the relationships between plants and the environment. Botanists may carry out research in the field, analyze data, or write reports about their research.

1. Study Plants and Their Environments or Relationships

Botanists study plants, often in their natural environment. This may involve travel to specific destinations to conduct fieldwork and collect samples. Some testing may be completed on site. However, most analysis is completed in a laboratory setting using specialized equipment.

Depending on the project, a Botanist may classify new plant species or help identify desirable traits in specific plants. They also examine the way plants interact with other plants and organisms in nature to gain a better understanding of ecosystems.

2. Test the Effects of Pollutants and Weather on Plant Species

A common requirement for Botanists is to test the impact of various pollutants, weather conditions, and other organisms on plant life. The results of the test may help companies create less harmful products or allow government agencies to reallocate resources to protect the environment.

For example, a Botanist may study the way that drought affects the health of plants in a specific region. A Botanist could also study the impact of pesticides on crops or air pollution on native plant species.

3. Use Selective Breeding Techniques to Produce Better Plants

Botanists often use breeding techniques to enhance the characteristics of plants, such as increased disease resistance or nutritional content. Selective breeding is a process used to develop better plants, which often takes multiple generations to achieve.

The first step involves the identification of desirable characteristics. Botanists then select plants that contain those characteristics.

With each set of offspring, Botanists choose the plants that possess the strongest characteristics to produce the next generation. Botanists may need to complete this process many times to slowly improve the natural traits of the plant.

4. Work with Other Scientists to Achieve Specific Objectives

Botanists rarely work alone. They are often part of a team working toward specific objectives. A project may require a variety of scientists with different specializations. For example, a Botanist working on conservation efforts may work directly with Geologists and Environmental Scientists.

Senior-level Botanists may need to manage team members and resources while entry-level Botanists are more likely to handle administrative work and lab work.

5. Raise Awareness About Various Environmental Issues

Another common task of a Botanist is to raise awareness about environmental issues and conservation efforts. They may also directly assist with these efforts or assist with recovery from natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, and droughts.

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What is the job like


Above-average job growth and salary

Botanists tend to make more compared to the average salary in the United States, earning between $56,700 and $84,800 per year.

Working outdoors

Botanists work in a variety of environments, including many outdoor settings. You may get to spend a lot of time around plants in nature or botanical gardens.

Gives you a unique perspective on the world

As a Botanist, you will be able to understand plants on a level that very few people in the world can do. No matter where you are or which part of the world you travel to, you will be able to use your knowledge of plants to view the world in a unique lense.


Some positions involve physically challenging work

Fieldwork can often become physically challenging. While working in a lab is not physically demanding, your job may require you to hike long distances or travel to remote sites to collect samples.

Pressure to meet deadlines and budgets

Botanists are typically constrained by deadlines and budgets, which are common concerns for almost every project. You may find yourself frustrated by a lack of resources or limited deadlines.

Where they work

State and Federal Agencies
Environmental Organizations
Agriculture Companies
Botanical Gardens and Arboretums

Botanists may work outdoors or in a lab. They may work near farms, cities, or government-protected lands. Common employers include government agencies such as a state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) or the USDA.

Other potential employers include non-profit organizations detected to conservation efforts. A Botanist may also be hired to research the effects of a product on the environment for a private company.

How to become one

Step 1: Take Biology and Science Courses in High School

Aspiring Botanists should start taking related courses in high school, including biology and other available science courses. If possible, consider enrolling in college-level courses such as Physics and Chemistry in your senior year.

Step 2: Enroll in a Bachelor’s Program with a Focus on Botany

Most Botany-related jobs require at least a Bachelor’s Degree in Botany or Plant Science. If minoring in Botany, coursework should include Plant Ecology, Plant Anatomy, Ecosystems, Cell Biology, and Environmental Biology.

Step 3: Obtain an Entry-Level Position in the Botany Field

After graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree, you can start applying for entry-level positions in the Botany field. Intermediate Research Technician is a common starting point for Botanists. You may also find entry-level positions at Botanical Gardens, Arboretums, and Governmental Agencies.

Step 4: Earn a Master’s Degree to Increase Your Career Prospects

Earning a Master’s Degree increases your chances of obtaining promotions or senior positions in your field. Advancing your education also provides a chance to focus on your area of specialization, such as Conservation Biology or Agronomy.

Should you become one

Best personality type for this career

The Thinker

People with this personality likes to work with ideas that require an extensive amount of thinking. They prefer work that requires them to solve problems mentally.

You can read more about these career personality types here.

Botanists should have a natural sense of curiosity. You should take an interest in learning about different plants which includes their physiology, anatomy, and biochemistry. Many Botany-related jobs involve finding answers to questions and working with teams of other scientists.

Most importantly, you should have a respect for plants because that is ultimately what this career path is all about.

Take this quiz to see if this is the right career for you.


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