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Agriculture

Botanist

Botanists study all forms of plant life.

Annual Salary

£22,000 to £55,000

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

38 to 40 variable

You could work: evenings / weekends / bank holidays; away from home

What's it all about?

Day to day tasks

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

Working environment

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.

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.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 or 3 A levels, or equivalent, including biology for a degree
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study
For more information
Volunteering and work 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.

More information

Further information

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

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
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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