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.
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. For full details, refer to the entries on the website at www.goodcareersguide.com.au or university handbooks.
Botanists may perform the following tasks:
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.
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.
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.
A marine botanist studies marine plants and related underwater environments.
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.
A plant pathologist studies the effects of diseases that are harmful to crop growth and assists in developing methods to control them.
A plant physiologist studies internal plant functions and their chemical basis to learn how plants grow, process nutrients and reproduce.
A plant taxonomist studies and documents the diversity in plant life and develops classifications reflecting evolutionary relationships between different plant groups and species.