Aspiring botanists must undergo intensive scientific education before they can enter the workforce. At the undergraduate level, most students pursue a degree in botany, biology, or a related discipline.
Related course work includes chemistry, physics, and mathematics.
Most career botanists also hold advanced graduate degrees in botany. For the majority of research and teaching positions, a doctorate degree is necessary; the course of study can take more than six years
to complete. During this time, many botanists receive extensive training in disciplines closely tied to their areas of specialization. Those pursuing a career in paleobotany, for example, would likely
obtain a rigorous grounding in geology, while plant physiologists would seek advanced study in biochemistry.
Once their formal education is complete, botanists can find work in either a basic or an applied field. Those pursuing a career in a basic science concern themselves with research purely for the sake of
gaining knowledge; by contrast, applied scientists are focused more on conducting research that serves specific practical needs of society at large.
Colleges and universities are the most common employers of botanists. The academic setting allows botanists to conduct their research and to teach at the same time. Given the interdisciplinary nature of
contemporary botanical specialties, many academics find that their research is aided by working in a community of scientists of every stripe.
Applied botanists may find work in a number of other settings. Academic institutions and government agencies, for example, often employ botanists to conduct research relating to ecology, agriculture,
and plant diseases. Highly trained botanists are also needed at museums and botanical gardens. In the private sector, botanists pursue careers in the petroleum, biotechnology, agribusiness, chemical, and
Current thinking holds that the opportunities for botanists will grow rapidly in the future. As the world's population continues to grow, for example, the resulting demand for more food will likely create
opportunities for those botanists expert in such areas as plant diseases and biotechnology.