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. 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: • 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.

Avg. weekly wage:

$1,645

Future growth:

Moderate

Employment by state:

ACT ACT 6.7%

NSW NSW 19.5%

NT NT 2.1%

QLD QLD 20.2%

SA SA 6.9%

TAS TAS 2.6%

VIC VIC 21.7%

WA WA 20.3%

Hours worked:

33.1

Unemployment:

Average unemployment

Gender split:

Male 50.6%

Female 49.4%

Education level:

Highest qualification is a Bachelor degree: 49.5%

Highest qualification is a Postgraduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 50.5%

Age brackets:

15-19 - 0%

20-24 - 3.6%

25-34 - 37%

35-44 - 19.4%

45-54 - 20.8%

55-59 - 9.3%

60-64 - 5.3%

65 and Over - 4.6%

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

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