Agriculture

Botanist

Botanists study all forms of plant life.

Annual Salary

£22,000 to £55,000

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588 (source Office for Statistics)

Working hours

Variable

What's it all about?

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
  • 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 can get into this job through:

  • a university course

University

You'll usually need a degree in a subject like:

  • botany
  • ecology
  • environmental science
  • plant biology
  • plant science

You'll also need a postgraduate qualification, like a master's degree or PhD, for teaching or research posts.

You'll usually need:

  • 2 or 3 A levels, including a biological science for a degree
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

Volunteering and experience

It may be helpful if you volunteer with a relevant organisation, like the the Royal Horticultural Society and the Field Studies Council, before you apply for your first job.

Further information

You can find out more about plant biology through the Royal Society of Biology.

£22,000 to £55,000

Starter salary: £22,000 to £28,500

Experienced salary: up to £30,000 (research post)

These figures are a guide.

Variable

Your working hours will vary according to the project. You may be involved in continuous monitoring of a plant species, so you’ll work unsocial hours.

Fieldwork can involve a lot of travel, often overseas, so you might spend long periods of time away from home.

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.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • knowledge of biology
  • maths knowledge
  • complex problem-solving skills
  • knowledge of teaching and the ability to design courses
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • analytical thinking skills
  • ambition and a desire to succeed
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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