Botany Career Options

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General Information - Plant Biology - Applied Plant Science - Research - Organismal Specialties - Education - Writing - Law - Marketing & Administration - Illustration - Computer Programming


General Information

Degrees

  • Bachelor's: qualifies for laboratory technician or technical assistant positions in education, industry, government, museums, parks, and botanical gardens
  • Master's: qualifies for some research and administrative positions
  • PhD: required for advanced research and administrative positions

Strategies

  • Obtain part-time, summer, internship, or volunteer experience with government agencies, college/university labs, agricultural experiment stations, freshwater and marine biological stations, or private companies.
  • Extremely helpful to arrange undergraduate research project to decide on specific area of interest in Botany
  • Enjoy outdoor activities
  • Join organizations related to your area of interest
  • Develop excellent mathematics, verbal, and written communication skills
  • Select a broad range of courses in English, social sciences, and humanities
  • Become proficient with computers


Plant Biology

Areas

  • Anatomy: microscopic plant structure
  • Biochemistry: chemistry of living matter
  • Biophysics: application of physics to plant life processes
  • Cytology: structure, function, and life history of plant cells
  • Ecology: relationship between plants and the world in which they live
  • Genetics: plant heredity and variation
  • Molecular Biology: structure and function of biological molecules
  • Morphology: macroscopic plant forms, evolution, and development
  • Paleobotany: biology and evolution of fossil plants
  • Physiology: functions and vital processes of plants
  • Systematics/Taxonomy: evolutionary history and relationships among plants
  • Systems Ecology: using mathematical models to demonstrate ecological concepts
  • Taxonomy: identification, naming, and classification of plants

Employers

  • Research organizations
  • Colleges & universities
  • Museums
  • Botanical gardens/aboretums
  • US Department of Agriculture branches, including Medical Plant Resources Laboratory, Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, National Arboretum, US Forest Service
  • Federal agencies, including Departments of Interior and State, US Public Health Service, NASA, the Smithsonian Institution, and EPA
  • State agencies
  • Ecological consulting companies
  • Industries, including petrochemical, chemical, lumber, and paper
  • Companies including pharmaceutical, food, seed and nursery, fruit growers, biological supply houses, and biotechnology firms
  • Environmental and biotechnical regulatory agencies

Strategies

  • Obtain PhD for teaching and advanced research positions
  • Conduct undergraduate research project
  • Learn high-technology techniques
  • Learn federal and state government job application process

Resources

  • Botanical Society of America
  • America Society of Plant Biologists
  • American Institute of Biological Sciences
  • Ecological Society of America
  • American Society of Plant Taxonomists
  • Biophysical Society

Applied Plant Science

Areas

  • Agronomy: crop and soil sciences
  • Biotechnology: using biological organisms to make useful products
  • Breeding: development of better types of plants
  • Economic Botany: study and development of commercial plant products
  • Food Science & Technology: development of food from plant products
  • Forestry: forest management and timber production
  • Horticulture: production of ornamental plants and fruit/vegetable crops; also includes landscape design
  • Natural Resource Management: responsible management and use of our natural resources
  • Palnt Pathology: study, management, and control of plant diseases

Employers

  • Colleges and universities
  • Research organizations
  • Agriculture industries, including lumber and paper, seed and nursery, fruit and vegetable growers, fermentation, food industry, and biological supply houses
  • Biotechnology firms
  • Federal government
  • State and local government
  • Environmental and biotechnical regulatory agencies
  • Ecological consulting firms

Strategies

  • Take courses in or double major in areas of interest
  • Learn foreign language for international work
  • Obtain PhD for teaching, advanced research positions, and administration
  • Learn federal, state, and local government job application process

Resources

  • American Society of Agronomy
  • American Society for Horticutural Science
  • Society of American Foresters
  • American Phytopathological Society

Research

Areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Genetics
  • Cell membrane
  • Other disciplines

Employers

  • Colleges and universities
  • Research organizations
  • Agricultural organizations
  • Federal government
  • Related industries

Strategies

  • Pursue graduate degrees for advanced positions
  • Develop excellent research and high-technology skills
  • Do a student research project
  • Gain related work experience

Resources

None

Organismal Specialties

Areas

  • Bryology: study of mosses and other plants
  • Licheology: study of lichens
  • Marine Botany: study of ocean plants and algea
  • Mycology: study of fungi
  • Pteridology: study of ferns and similar plants
  • Phycology: study of algae

Employers

  • Colleges and universities
  • Research organizations
  • Federal and state government laboratories, including Agriculture, Health, etc.
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Food and beverage industries, including brewing and fermentation
  • Hospitals

Strategies

  • Learn high-tech techniques
  • Become familiar with laboratory procedures and equipment
  • Obtain a graduate degree in area of interest

Resources

None

Education

Areas

  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Consulting
  • Administration

Employers

  • Colleges and universities
  • Museums, botanical gardens, and herbaria
  • Non-profit organizations

Strategies

  • Minimum of a Master's degree required in most areas
  • Obtain PhD for positions in college teaching, research, and advanced administration

Resources

None

Writing

Areas

  • Teaching
  • Research & Development
  • Exploration
  • Consulting
  • Administration

Employers

  • Publishing companies, including newspapers, magazines, books, and textbooks
  • Professional associations
  • Scientific and educational software companies
  • Non-profit organizations

Strategies

  • Take courses in technical writing
  • Develop computer skills
  • Obtain Master's degree in scientific journalism

Resources

None

Law

Areas

  • Agricultural
  • Environmental
  • Biotechnological
  • Forensics

Employers

  • Legal firms with environmental focus
  • Governmental agencies and regulatory agencies
  • Biotechnical regulatory firms or agencies

Strategies

  • Obtain law degree or other specialized training

Resources

  • American Bar Association


Marketing & Administration

Areas

  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Administration
  • Management

Employers

  • Pharmaceutical
  • Seed companies
  • Biotechnology firms
  • Scientific publishers
  • Biological supply organizations

Strategies

  • Complete minor in business
  • Hold leadership positions
  • Join student American Marketing Association

Resources

  • American Marketing Association


Illustration

Employers

  • Scientific publishers
  • Colleges and universities
  • Educational and scientific software companies
  • Non-profit organizations

Strategies

  • Double major or minor in illustration
  • Become competent in computer-aided design
  • Seek related work experience, internships, or co-op positions

Resources

None

Computer Programming

Employers

  • Scientific and educational sofware companies

Strategies

  • Double major or minor in computer programming
  • Seek related work experience, internships, or co-op positions

Resources

None

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