What can I do with a degree in Botany?
A botany degree is applicable to many types of careers. Some plant biologists work primarily outdoors, in forests, parklands, or fields. Others work in laboratories, museums, in botanical gardens, or in industry. Graduates go into fields as diverse as biotechnology, environmental monitoring and protection, and agriculture. More than half of Botany students go on to graduate studies in natural science, agriculture, environmental sciences, and education.
Here are some examples of what plant scientists do:
Plant Pathologists specialize in diagnosis, treatment and management of plant diseases in forests, crops, and landscape plants. They are employed by the agricultural industry, international institutes, state and federal agencies, colleges and universities, or as private consultants.
Plant Ecologists do many kinds of work. They conduct field surveys and technical work researching ecological issues, such measuring the environmental impact of human activities and climate change. They develop and carry out management plans to mitigate environmental problems and conserve species and ecosystems. They educate students and the general public on how to preserve diversity and create sustainable communities. They are employed by private industry, ecological consulting companies, state and federal agencies that oversee public lands and resources, and educational institutions.
Plant Evolutionary Biologists and Taxonomists explore the diversity and origin of plant species across the globe. They are employed by museums, botanical gardens, pharmaceutical companies, state and federal agencies, international institutions, and colleges and universities.
Plant Physiologists and Molecular Biologists work in laboratories in the agriculture and biotechnology industry, in colleges and universities, and in government agencies, like the USDA, EPA and DOE. They do research on many aspects of plant function, and how plant genetic diversity contributes to improve crop performance, nutrition, and disease resistance.
Careers with a Botany BS:
Laboratory technician or field lab researcher at:
- Colleges, Universities, and Plant Research Centers
- Museums, such as the Smithsonian Institution
- Botanical gardens and arboretums, such as the National Arboretum
- USDA and US Forest Service
- Other Federal Agencies (e.g., Bureau of Land Management)
- Ecological consulting companies
- Petrochemical, chemical, and lumber and paper industries
- Pharmaceutical, food, seed and nursery, fruit growers, biological supply houses, and biotechnology firms
- Environmental and biotechnical regulatory agencies
- National or State Park naturalist
- Environmental impact specialist
- Greenhouse technician
- US Forest Service employee
- Landscape management and design
- Forestry or conservation expert
- County Extension Agent
- Science Columnist
- Biological photographer
- High School Biology Instructor
- Agricultural Research Service
- Graduate school, teaching or research assistant
- Plantae - An online plant science community with career advice, job and internship postings, and volunteer opportunities. View the Plantae job board.
- The Botanical Society of America (BSA) has posted information about salaries and availability of jobs. Also check out their feature "Why Choose a Career in Botany?"
- The OU Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology's "What can I do with a major in Botany?" includes an overview of the field of botany and several useful job resources.
- How to Grow a Plant Biologist - A career tree that illustrates the academic and career path (both academic and non-academic) of plant biologists (PDF).