What jobs do Botany majors get after college?

klavier(Z7 Baltimore)December 4, 2004

I am planning to go to college to become a chemical engineer, but would rather go into a more plant related science if I knew what kinds of jobs were available after for plant lovers. Any info would eb great. Thanks, Klavier

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There are jobs with the seed companies, field researchers (usually university related), persons who evalute sites as to land use and in my area whether an area is a wetland.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2004 at 1:24PM
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I think I would stay in chemical engineering ... perhaps with some Botany classes mixed in ... chemical engineers are hard to come by ... perhaps some hybridization of the two ??

Good Day ...

    Bookmark   December 5, 2004 at 2:30PM
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klavier(Z7 Baltimore)

Thanks, that was basically what I was thinking.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2004 at 4:38PM
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happyhoe(z6 OH)

That would depend on what specific area of botany you study. Also depending on what University you go to your option will vary. For instance some uni's place Horticulture under Botany while other list it with Agriculture.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2004 at 10:10AM
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froggy(z4/5 WI)

job? for botany?


fat chance unless u are teaching. sure there are a few of them out there, but its slim pickin's. i hope u didnt go into botany for glamour and wealth. do urself a favor and think about trying to make $$$ another way whilst in your free time, your greenhouse habbit can be paid for.

i hear bankers make alot of $$$. and they got wimpy 9-5 hours, that gives u 2 hrs in the morning & 2 hrs after work to wind down.


    Bookmark   December 13, 2004 at 10:11PM
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I think people are being a little pessimistic here. Clearly the market demand for botanists is weak in comparison to the engineering field. But thats true when you compare MOST jobs to engineering fields.

Whats more important here is what you really want to be doing with your life. I just spent three years at ASU studying mechanical engineering. I ended up feeling burnt out and entirely bored. Last summer I changd my major to plant biology and its probably the best decision I ever made. I don't regret the engineering education because I now know things I never would have imagined 10 years ago. But my heart is in studying plants.

If you have doubts about your desire for engineering, or feel unusually pulled otwards the study of plants I would strongly suggest that you continue to explore your options.

Get a hold of a couple books:
"Careers for Plant Lovers" by Blythe Camenson
"Careers in Horticulture & Botany" by Jerry Garner

I believe that the "gloom and doom" postings are based on perceptions that didn't come from careful research. The jobs are out there, you just have to know where to look. I 'll be happy to provide more information if you want, just email me.


    Bookmark   December 14, 2004 at 12:58AM
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mdaughn(zone 7)

Some arboretums and botanical gardens use trained botanists to maintain the plant records...proper id being the primary issue. It takes that specialized training to determine differences in species, especially closely related species.
Good luck .

    Bookmark   December 14, 2004 at 12:41PM
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Yeah .. I would avoid Gloom and doom thinking but it's no easy world out there regardless of what career path you take ..

I'd like to here about all those exciting jobs ... Jason.

I make a full time living in the green industry ... have been well over a decade ... I work in the landscape industry .. sort of like applied botany... pays better then science botany jobs I've seen that require a BS degree as like I have.

Good Day ...

    Bookmark   December 14, 2004 at 6:39PM
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I have an honours degree in Botany. I know what I am about to say doesn't answer things exactly but maybe it puts a different slant on things?

I thought about doing a PhD after but it was too specialized for me - I would have preferred to be a Park ranger rather than studing the finer details of a cell etc.

Then I fell into IT and starting designing software etc. Now several years later I have returned to the area of Landscaping and landscape design (where I can now use my IT desing skills) which I am so happy about I cannot tell you.

I think if you have a love/interest follow it - you will do well in college if you love something - then everything else will fall in line. Don't think about the job at this stage - just follow your interest then everything else will fall in line.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2004 at 8:54PM
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froggy(z4/5 WI)

maybe a few more comment from the peanut gallery.

i do way more botany now than i ever would have by getting a job at Monsanto or the like.

some careers (like Dr and Lawyers) you go at them head first. but some you need to take an end around attack at them.

by the way, open up the phone book and see how many botanists for hire vs Dr's and lawyers. sure one can look at it like there is a NEED for botanists on call but one can also look at it like no one is willing to actually PAY for that stuff. so my vote is to get a Dr. job and whilst u are an ok Dr., you can offer everyone that comes into ur office a map of a plant cell or a Petersons field guide. plus, Dr. make some good $$$/ botanists typically dont. when was the last time u were watching 'lifestyles of the rich and famous' and they show someone who made it doing botany. just think of the botany one could do with all that $$$. and its not like they work long grueling hours, just think of the free time one has after work to do botany.


    Bookmark   December 15, 2004 at 8:59AM
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froggy .. froggy .. LOL .. you speak words of truth .. I must admit ... so I can't disagree with you ... I really can't but there are many roads in life ... even along simalar paths ... who can say what one could do with this or that .. while another can not do.

Botany is a tuff one money wise.

Good Day ...

    Bookmark   December 15, 2004 at 6:19PM
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bambooo(6 CT USA)

Do you want fries with that?

    Bookmark   December 18, 2004 at 1:58PM
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serenoa(z8b, FL)

Unfortunately, botany is not a thriving field. Finding a university with a traditional botany program may be a challenge. Some universities and botanical gardens still employ traditional botanists - actually for more than record keeping. I suggest that there is more traditional botanical work to be done in tropics. The academic world is pushing laboratory work like molecular and genetic biology. If you want to work in the field, ecology may be the answer.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2004 at 8:12AM
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GingerBlue(z6 MO)

This is true for any pure science degree. I have a M.S. in Biology. And I assure you...it's worthless. I can't do medical without certification (though I can teach the classes people take to get certified...go figure), anything specifically science related like tech work doesn't require a degree and often pays a step above minimum wage. I can't teach high school without a certificate. I can teach per course in a community college, but it's sporadic and pays poorly.

There ARE research technician jobs in universities and in pharmaceutical companies. But they STILL don't pay much.

If you want a degree in a pure science...you gotta go for the PhD to make any decent money at all.

That being said, there's no reason you can't take botany classes because you enjoy them and later when you're rolling in the dough, you can start your own plant/landscaping/nutraceuticals business.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2004 at 2:00AM
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I work for an environmental consulting firm, and we have lots of botanists and biologists working for us. They do land use surveys, work in our ecosystem restoration program, and in our wetlands mitigation program. Sure, it would be helpful to have a engineering minor in our line of work, and some of our biologists are actually biological engineers, but we use a lot of botany majors also.

Environmental companies would be your best bet.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2004 at 9:57PM
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Rosa(4ish CO Rockie)

I agree with bruggirl.
Just about every job we have open in the NR department of our Environmental Directorate requires a biology type degree. From the weed manager (me) to some of our wildlife law enforcement folks, range conservationists, watershed manager, some of our wildland firefighters, biological control specialists, Threatend and Endangered species conservation and mitigation issues (NEPA), forest health and pests, etc...
If you choose this type field be sure to get some classes and working knowledge in GPS/GIS mapping. Invaluable.

No, The money isn't always top dollar but most I know make a pretty decent living. And where else can you get paid for walking around all day looking at plants, LOL?!?

    Bookmark   December 31, 2004 at 9:06AM
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Ok folks, here's some more food for thought. First, I think there isn't a consensus of what we are all really discussing here. I see several trains of thought going on here, but I think we can boil it down to two questions: Are there botany jobs available? Do they pay enough to be worth doing?

The short answer to the first question is Yes. To short answer the second question is Maybe, it depends on you're feelings about the income level compared to the amount of education required.

Going back to job availability, here's a few statistics. The breakdown for where botanists work is something like 10% in private industries, 40% work for the government and the other 50% work in higher education.

Some private industries that hire botanists: Drug, chemical, food, lumber and paper companies as well as the oil industry. Genetic research industry jobs are primed for considerable growth.

Some government jobs that hire botanists: The USDA, Department of the Interior/Forest Service, the State Department, the EPA and NASA.

Education jobs run the entire range from high school to community college to university. University County Extension offices hire botanists. Also every botranical garden you've ever seen.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics state that demand for botanists is expected to be increase faster than average.

OK, on to the money: The average annual salary for botanists in private industry is about $35,000 and for those federally employed it is about $42,000. Income for teachers ranges widely from a low of about $24,000 for HS or community college instructors all the way to $90,000 for some Ivy League university professors. Most full professor positions at univerisites seem to top out somewhere around $70,000. It does take a long time to earn your way into such a position too I'm sure.

I've seen several recommendations that people interested in botany would be better served by becoming a lawyer, doctor or engineer. The idea is that you will get rich at these other jobs and then you can throw that money around on your own private gardening interests. I believe that this is generally a poor idea. Fine, doctors do make a lot of money. They also spend ungodly amounts of money just getting their degree. Not to mention the amount they spend on malpractice insurance after they get to work. I also believe that most people, but particularly doctors, should be in that line of work because it is their passion. I don't want my health care handled by a man or woman whose primary interest was grabbing some cash. Being a lawyer is no picnic either. A professor of mine graduated from Harvard law school and was raking in plenty of cash. Whats wrong with that? He had ZERO free time - Spare suit at the office, didn't know his kids, etc. He quit and never looked back and now happily teaches film school. As for engineering I can speak to that with some personal experience. First, if you don't take naturally to math and numbers you will have your work cut out for you. If you had any difficulties with HS algebra you will probably suffer when you dig into calc/diff eq, statics/dynamics and materials classes. There are good reasons that engineering degrees are so highly rewarded and in such high demand. They are crucial jobs to modern society yet most people can't or won't do them. It really is that simple. Engineering is also, in my opinion, a job that should be done by those who have a passion for it, not just to rake in some dough. As for the money, the real golden opportunities come mostly to those with Master's or PhD degrees. A bachelors isn't even going to get you in the door in many big industry's departments. If you are pursuing those degrees against your natural talents you may literally drive yourself crazy. Most people have no real idea how difficult engineering cirriculum is.

I hope that helped give another perspective.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2005 at 2:27PM
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kelly_cassidy(z5 E. WA St.)

I have a PhD in botany. My area of expertise is ecology.

First. A lot of the responses are confusing plant biology with horticulture. There is a gigantic difference. Botanists (usually called plant biologists these days) don't necessarily know diddly-squat about growing plants. They can talk about plant biochemistry, plant ecology, photosynthesis, plant genetics, etc., but if you want to garden, you go into horticulture or ag sciences.

Second. Within botany, there are now a broad range of specialties. Plant ecologists may not know too much about the details of photosynthesis and vice versa.

I did environomental toxicology (herbicide uptake and effects) and land cover mapping with satellite imagery for my master's work. I work on invasive species ecology for my PhD. As a post-doc, I mapped land cover for Washington State using satellite imagery, modeled vertebrate distributions based on the land cover map, and did conservation priorities based on all those maps. I've taught botany and ecology courses. I've mapped bird distributions for Washington for the Seattle Audubon society (a side-effect of GIS expertise). Now, I work as curator of a vertebrate (!) museum. (I have a lot of interests.)

I don't think you can say the pay is bad or good because it depends on what you specialty, your willingness to travel to where the jobs are, and your personality, ability, ambition, etc. Biochemists, bioengineers, and GIS/remote sensing specialist are popular these days, but who knows what will be big 10 years from now? Ecologists don't make a lot of money, and never have, but they get to live in more interesting places. The Forest Service, universities, the USDA, and private genetics and bioengineering firms are probably the main employers of plant biologists.

If it's really horticulture you are interested in, I don't know much about the job opportunities there.

Kelly Cassidy

    Bookmark   January 16, 2005 at 1:55PM
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Rosa(4ish CO Rockie)

You're right Kelly botany and horticulture are two entirely different animals as far as jobs go and I can't offer any suggestions in that arena either.

I'm gonna ramble a bit here and hope it helps with some ideas fo anyone considering applied Botany type jobs.

Government entities-don't forget that the Department of Interior (USFWS/BLM/BOR/NPS), Department of Agriculture (Forest Service/NRCS/ARS), Department of Defense, Army Core of Engineers (for weltand delineation and mitagation jobs especially with enginering coursework) as well as multiple state agencies such as state Natural Areas Programs or Native Plant Society, state Division of Wildlife, state Departments of Natural Resources, state Forest Service, and state Parks all hire botany/biology types for invasive species, and threatened, endangered and sensitive species mapping and monitoring. Not sure any of these requirements are going away in the near future for public trust landholders.
GIS, sat imagery/remote sensing will still be useful for many years and probably even more so as technology increases/improves.
Generally, Federal job listings consider a botany degree the same as any other biological sciences degree in the GS (government service) wage system. Start by looking for the biology series of 400 when looking around at federal agency job sites. You'll also find botany jobs-especially with some sort of engineering coursework-in the Environmental Protection and of course the Engineering job series.
Do not get bogged down looking for the specific job titles you want if considering federal service. For example if I had been looking for job titled "invasive species program manager" I'd still be looking. Many of these type jobs are just not listed that way.
However, nothing is forever and even in govermment service jobs can change frequently as requirements change. Not unusual for the botanist/biologist to end up working on legal matters relating to endangered species instead of surveying for them, water rights issues, watershed management, forest pests, etc. I know more than a couple geologists working in federal service managing air, noise and clean water issues. And a mpre than a couple of engineers heading up entire natural resource departments for the Air Force. Even union employees in Federal Service tend to wear many, many hats but being very flexible imho makes life much more interesting...

    Bookmark   January 16, 2005 at 8:22PM
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kelly_cassidy(z5 E. WA St.)

One more note:

Very few colleges or universities give degrees in "botany" or even "zoology" anymore. Department and degrees are now more often split on functional rather than taxanomic lines. Hence, a college may have a Department of Ecology and Evolution, a Department of Molecular Biology, etc. All the departments will have people who do research in plants, animals, fungie, and microorganisms. But, the people who study plant ecology will have more in common with the people who study animal ecology than the people who study plant molecular biology.

If you decide to go into biology, you'll initially be taking the same courses no matter what you eventually specialize in. They'll give you a chance to think about the direction you want to go.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2005 at 12:01AM
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govind_s(New Delhi India)

Hi to all. Well i guess the problem is tht most Botany jobs somwehow get overshadowed by Agriculture n simila stuffs. Atleast tht wat happens in developin countries like mine!
I m doin my undergrad in Botany but i guess will hace to do my PG in Agro-somethin!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2005 at 1:03PM
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Greetings Govind; Might I ask that you explore the possibilities before channelling yourself into 'Agro-something' or horticulture?(I am alerted by GW that the site I would like to link directly may be contaminated). If you have virus protection,you may google G.L.Stebbins' Webpage ... there are citations to similar work in your native land (Gaidail;Madhau;V.D.Vartak).
Craig Dremann's work is highly regarded by the US Forest Service... so please explore...You may come across some intersting bibliographic resources:Turreson;Grant;Clausen,J; G.L.Stebbins webpage(272 publications)ect....these efforts represent classic studies and are timeless.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2005 at 2:57PM
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govind_s(New Delhi India)

hi...greetings to u too! Well i did the search and did find a lot of th Indian link tht u r talkin about...But there`s another thing back here as well..More Indian Flora is studied by Non-Indian Botanist an th Indian Botanist r more of agri based types...Although there are some real good, although fewer, botanical institutes as well...Thanks!!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2005 at 6:02AM
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"Very few colleges or universities give degrees in "botany" or even "zoology" anymore."

...and, at least at our university, there are fewer CLASSES in botany offered all the time! There seems to me to be a drop in interest in the field. Don't know if fewer classes is a response to the lack of interest in the field or the ecologists and genetics people just bring in more grant money so limited departmental salaries go toward hiring them instead instead of traditional botanists. I don't see as many students interested in plants anymore either but, if they are never exposed to the field, they are less likely to become interested in it because it's not high profile enough to draw their attention otherwise.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2005 at 6:27PM
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Hi everyone. I just stumbled onto this thread, it's been especially interesting. I am a first year college student hoping to transfer to a university that offers botany or plant sciences. I will have to leave southern california to do it, but after much deliberation, I feel so passionately about it, I don't think I'd be happy just with a bio/ecology degree.

one thing that struck me as odd, that I have seen over and over in this thread, is the mention of money. of course everyone wants to live comfortably, and of course it is expensive to get an education, but I have a hard time understanding how someone could discourage someone from doing what they want to do because they may not become "rich." I don't have expectations of making hundreds of thousands of dollars, and I'll be happy to work for the national parks for a modest wage so long as I can one day buy a house, play with plants, and spend lots of time outdoors. my idea of happiness may not be the same as anyone elses, but I have to agree with elemetal's point about passion. I'd also like to think that people find fulfillment in things other than money.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2007 at 9:11PM
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As one who opted for a career in engineering (not my first choice, but my second and one I have enjoyed), I offer this advice : Choose a field you have a passion for, or at least a definite interest in, and look for ways to earn money in that field, or by doing related work. Most people have more than one interest in life, and are somewhat flexible in what they do. If you work at one of your interests, you can still dabble in your others and find enjoyment. There are people who retire from one job and for retirement go start another career in a different field. Sometimes work in a related field can lead back to opportunities more in-line with what you desire most to do.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2007 at 1:20PM
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tropicalfreak(z10b Ft Lauderdale)

I am also a first year college student going after a Bachelor's in something Plant related. The job's I have been interested in are looking for at least a Bachelor's.
You just have to realize yoru passion and go for it.

I'm very excited to be back in school and pursuing something in a field I love.


    Bookmark   September 15, 2007 at 11:09PM
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I am a Botany student with a goal of at least a Masters in Botanical Ecology. Look for a college that lets you specify your botanical degree. A specific degree doesn't mean you won't get a job, it just gives you more opportunity if it arrives. As said above, ecology is a career with a future. Also think about what part of the world you are going to live in. You're probably not going to live in a large city, so don't plan on it. Teaching is a great way to work in the field, but it is a love, not a wallet filler. If you care about making a difference in the world, rather than your bank account, then look into research opportunities. They pay enough to live a comfortable life, as long as you like posterity instead of buying giant tvs and expensive junk.

I have interviewed many working botanists and they all tell me to learn as much as I can about technical writing. There are lots of places that will hire a botanists if they can write concisely and technically. Also consider computer programing as a minor. There are lots of research companies and universities that need programming done for research devices/robotics. Consider a dual major as well. I am doing a (slow) triple major in Botany, Chemistry and Technical Writing. (I worked a crappy job for a while and saved and invested money to pay for all the school.)

Don't be afraid to diversify and ignore the comments about money. People just like to be negative, they are probably aspiring business majors or worse, lawyers. If you are worried about money, get a plan going to invest your money. I am not bragging, but I made lots of money in the stock market working part time at Costco; when I was done and cashed out I turned 5k into 35k over about 5 years. AND, despite the bad economy, I know people who are still making money on stock, it isn't impossible. Anyone who goes through life without a good investment plan will be poor just from bad use of money- be wise.


P.S. Forest Service, BLM, Fish and Wildlife, Universities, Monsanto (yuck), Lumber Companies, Botanical gardens, Self Contractor, Research Companies, Large scale Nurseries, Pharmaceutical companies (growing fast), Farms, Any major food corporation with agricultural associations, ect. ect. Don't be afraid to work out of the country too, there are jobs abroad.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 4:37AM
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I'm a fourty year old who always wanted to do nursing. But I love to grow things I also love to study living things. I have an idea to make money. Not get rich mind you. But maybe enough to live on. Maybe expand and become comfortable. But I think Botany and Horticulture are feilds that require love without desire to get rich.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2010 at 8:40PM
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grow marijuana in colorado, it is a booming industry that pays healthy considering the work needed to put into it.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2011 at 12:21AM
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what jobs do botany majors really do after university.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 9:22AM
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i am a student of botany. but i have no interest about it?all time i think to be a engineer.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 7:34AM
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I recently read the bio note on an editor of some science magazine who had a degree in botany.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 6:33PM
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I have a bachelor's from a school in Ohio in conservation which is natural resource related and really is a combination of many fields/interests-botany, biology, agriculture, forestry, ecology, geography, and geology. It has been three years from when I graduated in '08 and I still don't really have a a good career started in conservation or natural resource conservation. So I'm considering getting my master's in something but I've already used 5 years to get the Bachelor's and also a little 2yr in a hort degree. I've applied to several jobs with the USDA like soil conservationists or biol. techs, and even a botanist job in TN but they never seem to come to fruition. I think a private company could give me a better chance. I don't really want to spend more $ and time in school. Does anyone have any advice or clues where I could look outside of a govt. job for any natural resource or botany position in any of those fields previously mentioned?

    Bookmark   June 21, 2011 at 8:18PM
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sir ,
i have complete pg with botany . Am i will get job . Plz give me sutable advice for my carrer.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 2:36AM
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albert_135(Sunset 2 or 3)

Ken Landon is reported here, For Waterlilies, an Odd Refuge in Texas - NYTimes.com, to have a minor in botany.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2011 at 1:14PM
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First, I disagree with all the pessimism about careers in botany. I agree that botany is a somewhat generic term that can encompass a wide range of knowledge and skill sets. But that's the great thing about a botany degree - it can send you off a number of different paths where you can gain more experience to improve your qualifications.

Botany majors can work in a wide variety of jobs ranging from positions in agriculture, horticulture, plant science research, biotechnology, conservation, environmental education and others. In agriculture, botanists are in pretty high demand in lab settings with large agribusinesses like Monsanto to work in the development of seeds and other plant products. In horticulture and agriculture, botany majors can also work in field settings in the propagation and management of plants. There are also a large number of entry-level lab technician jobs working for researchers in institutional settings - primarily academic settings. And if you're willing to pursue an advanced degree, you can work as a lead researcher.

There are also a lot of botany jobs doing environmental education - from entry level naturalist jobs working with camps and school groups to more advanced jobs working in a formal school or institutional setting.

In conservation, botanists are in super high demand with consulting firms doing plant survey and wetland delineations to help clients get permits for construction projects. Botanists are also employed by government agencies and non-profits working to protect important ecological areas. Really, botany is a great major for working in a wide variety of industries because it involves a highly specialized knowledge set that is in demand.

I agree that the pay may not be as high as engineering, medicine, or other science-based professionals. But as you move up the ladder, you can definitely earn over $100K /year - especially in the private sector but also if you have an advanced degree and you work in an academic setting or you work for a government agency.

To get more information, I would recommend looking at botany job boards to see firsthand the botany jobs that are being advertised by employers. For example see botany jobs here and see more examples here.

Another valuable step is to follow up with botanists in different industries to set up informational interviews. They might even let you watch them for a couple of hours on the job. This will give a you a great sense of what botanists actually do in different industries and will give you a better idea of where you would be happiest working.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2012 at 1:24PM
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While this job has probably been filled here is a request for a botanist/ecologist by the California Native Plant Society and it shows what is required and what work is needed and the rate of pay. From what I see I think the position is DEFINITELY underpaid for the level of commitment and work that is required. To my perspective the minimal pay should be around $26 USD per hour with a minimal per hour per week stipulation.
As fante pointed out, you really need that advanced degree to land a job in this trade that really pays otherwise it is all substandard pay for an excessive workload.

Here is a link that might be useful: CNPS botanist opening

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 1:24AM
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