- Requires accuracy, a methodical approach, and the ability to analyse, interpret and report on data
- Option to move into plant science, investigating biodiversity, crop production and plant diseases
- Fieldwork can involve a lot of travel, often overseas, which would mean time away from home
As a botanist you could specialise in the study of specific plant groups, plant anatomy and physiology, biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, ecology, marine botany, paleobotany (the study of fossilised plant remains) or taxonomy (the identification and classification of plants).
Your work will vary depending on your role, but could include:
- Identifying, classifying, recording and monitoring plant species and biodiversity
- Ecological consultancy work including surveys and environmental impact assessments
- Managing a botanical collection
- Searching for new species
- Studying the effects of pollution on plant life
- Identifying and purifying chemicals produced by plants for use in products like drugs, food, fabrics, solvents and building materials
- Presenting research results in journals, books and at academic conferences
- Training and supervising junior staff and volunteers
- Teaching at a university
You could work at a university, at a research facility or in a laboratory. Your working environment may be outdoors some of the time and you'll travel often.
A Botanist is an ideal role for someone with complex problem-solving skills, knowledge of biology and who has the ambition and a desire to succeed.
To become a Botanist you'll usually need a degree in a relevant subject like botany, ecology, environmental science, plant biology, or plant science. You'll usually need 2 or 3 A levels, including a biological science for a degree.
You'll also need a postgraduate qualification, like an MSc or PhD, for teaching or research posts. It may be helpful if you volunteer with a relevant organisation, like The Wildlife Trusts or the Royal Horticultural Society before you apply for your first job.
With experience in industry, you could move into a more senior position. In field research and conservation, you'll usually need to take on organisational, management or advisory responsibilities in order to progress. You could move into plant science, investigating biodiversity, crop production and plant diseases. You could also become a freelance consultant.