"Has been a lifesaver so many times!"
- Catherine Rampell, student @ University of Washington
"Exactly the help I needed."
- Jennifer Hawes, student @ San Jose State
"The best place for brainstorming ideas."
- Michael Majchrowicz, student @ University of Kentucky
Choosing a career in botany ensures a person a wide choice of career opportunities, a fair salary, and an exciting life. If you prepare yourself with a good education and a positive attitude, youíll be well on your way to becoming a successful botanist.
Anyone can find enjoyment and fulfillment in a career field as fun and beneficial to others as botany. If you like nature and being outdoors, you might enjoy a career as an ecologist, taxonomist, conservationist, forester, or even a plant explorer. With a job in one of these fields, you might find yourself doing exciting traveling to all types of new and beautiful places. If you take well to mathematics, maybe you should look into a career in biophysics, developmental botany, genetics, modeling, or systems ecology. If chemistry is more your thing, you should enjoy working as a plant physiologist, plant biochemist, molecular biologist, or chemotaxonomist. If you like designs and microscopy, you would probably find plant structure interesting. If microscopic organisms appeal to you, you should look into microbiology, phycology, or mycology. If you are artistic, ornamental horticulture and landscape design might be right up your alley. If you worry about feeding the hungry, you should study plant pathology or plant breeding. At some larger universities, you can even study specific types of botany, each with its own department. These departments include argonomy (field crops), microbiology (microbes like bacteria and fungi), horticulture (fruits, ornamentals, and veggies), and plant pathology (diseases pertaining to plants). If you are a people person, you might even be interested in teaching botany or providing public service.
After hearing the endless list of career opportunities, you have probably found one that appeals to you. But how should you prepare for your new career in the wonderful world of botany? Well, first you should keep in mind that four years of college and a Bachelorís degree are the bare essentials for most of the careers aforementioned. If you have these requirements, careers as laboratory technicians or technical assistants in education, industry, government, museums, parks and botanical gardens are all readily available. However, there are great deals of other positions where a Masterís or Doctorís degree is essential. For most teaching and research positions in universities and colleges, a Ph.D. is vital. For those of you still in high school, its never too early to plan ahead. When selecting your courses be sure to include college preparatory classes including English, mathematics, foreign language, physics, chemistry, biology, social studies and humanities. You should also participate in science fairs and clubs. Try getting summer jobs and/or internships having to do with biology. Try looking for jobs in parks, plant nurseries, farms, experiment stations, laboratories, camps, florist shops, or check with your local landscape architect. Try adding camping, photography, and computers to your list of hobbies. You should also get information on colleges and universities offering a good education in botany.
If you are interested in botany, it should be for your genuine love of the science, not the money. Back in 1993, students graduating with Bachelorís degrees received starting offers of about $24,000 a year. Those people with Masterís degrees were offered salaries starting at $30,650. Botanists in civilian positions were given an average salary of $35,084. Those who were federally employed received an average $41,754. Careers in botany offer individual freedom, varied work, pleasant surroundings, inspiring coworkers, and travel opportunities. The availability of jobs is good. Some fields can be competitive, but jobs are usually available for well-trained scientists.
So no matter where you come from, how smart you are, or what your background, there is a career in botany for you. Everyone can find delight with this field of careers. So next time you wonder what to be when you grow up, or think about how you hate your job, remember, a career as a botanist may be just what the doctor ordered.
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Fellows of the Royal Society, Botany, Botanical garden, Carl Linnaeus, Landscape design
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