How to become a Botanist

Botanists study the biology of all types of plants to increase scientific knowledge and apply this knowledge in areas such as conservation and management of natural resources, agriculture, forestry, horticulture, medicine and biotechnology.

Personal requirements of a Botanist

  • Interested in plants and research
  • Strong analytical skills
  • Aptitude for working with computers
  • Patient
  • Enjoy working outdoors
  • Able to work independently and as part of a team

Education & Training for a Botanist

To become a botanist you usually have to complete a degree in science with a major in botany, or forest or plant science. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, biology, chemistry, earth and environmental science and physics are normally required. A number of universities in Australia offer degrees in these areas. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.

Duties & Tasks of a Botanist

Botanists may perform the following tasks:

  • manage scientific collections of plant specimens
  • document and analyse plant biodiversity and the evolutionary origins of plants
  • investigate the effects of environmental factors such as rainfall, temperature, sunlight, soil, topography (surface features) and disease on plant growth
  • grow plants under controlled conditions to assess the significance of environmental and genetic variables
  • study the genetics of plants using biochemical and molecular techniques in a laboratory in order to determine the patterns of plant evolution
  • study the nature of plant chromosomes, cells and tissues
  • prepare scientific reports and papers
  • work with other scientists to develop medicines and other products from plants
  • search for and classify new species of plants
  • identify plant specimens and prepare handbooks for plant identification
  • use computers for information storage and analysis of data.

Working conditions for a Botanist

Botanists work in laboratories, offices and in the field, both alone and with other life scientists. They may work irregular hours and live in remote areas when carrying out research. Botanists may carry out fieldwork to collect and document plant species and numbers in particular areas. They may also be approached to advise on environmental and management issues and possible courses of action.

Employment Opportunities for a Botanist

Botanists are employed by universities and research organisations, as well as in the horticulture industry. Other major areas of employment include state, territory and federal government departments and organisations concerned with conservation, wildlife management, environmental control, fisheries, national parks, vermin and noxious weeds. There is growing employment with environmental consultancy firms, especially in the areas of mining and environmental restoration. Employment opportunities for botanists are influenced by levels of government and industry funding for environmental research and development, and community awareness of environmental and conservation issues. Demand for plant physiologists and plant pathologists is also influenced by trends in the horticultural and agricultural industries.

Specialisations:


Forest Botanist

A forest botanist studies and documents the diversity in tree species and other species of importance to the forestry industry. They may work in tree selection and breeding for improved forestry production.


Marine Botanist

A marine botanist studies marine plants and related underwater environments.


Plant Ecologist

A plant ecologist studies the relationships between plants and their environment. This may include investigations into the effects of rainfall, temperature, sunlight, soil, terrain, animals, pollution and diseases on plant types and their distribution.


Plant Pathologist

A plant pathologist studies the effects of diseases that are harmful to crop growth and assists in developing methods to control them.


Plant Physiologist

A plant physiologist studies internal plant functions and their chemical basis to learn how plants grow, process nutrients and reproduce.


Plant Taxonomist

A plant taxonomist studies and documents the diversity in plant life and develops classifications reflecting evolutionary relationships between different plant groups and species.

Avg. weekly wage:

$1,291

Future growth:

relatively steady

Employment by state:

ACT 0.7%

NSW 35.5%

NT 2.9%

QLD 22.2%

SA 9.8%

TAS 3.1%

VIC 17.4%

WA 8.3%

Hours worked:

40.3

Unemployment:

below average

Gender split:

Proportion of male workers 46.9%

Proportion of female workers 53%

Education level:

Proportion of workers who have not completed Year 10: 0%

Proportion of workers who have not completed Year 12: 0%

Proportion of workers whose highest qualification is secondary school: 0%

Proportion of workers whose highest qualification is a Certificate 3 or 4: 0%

Proportion of workers whose highest qualification is a Diploma or Advanced Diploma: 0%

Proportion of workers whose highest qualification is a Bachelor degree: 52.9%

Proportion of workers whose highest qualification is a Postgraduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 47.1%

Age bracket:

Proprortion of workers aged below 35 years: 37.3%

Proportion of workers aged above 35 years: 64.2%

*The data above is sourced from the Department of Employment’s Job Outlook website.

Related careers