What Can I Do With a Botany Degree

Plant Biology

Areas

  • Anatomy
  • Biochemistry
  • Biophysics
  • Cytology
  • Ecology
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Morphology
  • Paleobotany
  • Physiology
  • Systematics
  • Systems Ecology
  • Taxonomy

Employers

  • Research organizations
  • Colleges and universities
  • Museums
  • Botanical gardens and arboretums
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture branches including Medical Plant Resources Laboratory, Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, National Arboretum, U.S. Forest Service
  • Federal agencies including Departments of Interior and State, U.S. Public Health Service, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Smithsonian Institution, and Environmental Protection Agency
  • State agencies
  • Environmental and biotechnical regulatory agencies
  • Ecological consulting companies
  • Industries including petrochemical, chemical, and lumber and paper
  • Companies including pharmaceutical, food, seed and nursery, fruit growers, biological supply houses, and biotechnology firms

Strategies

Obtain a Ph.D. for teaching and advanced research positions. Conduct undergraduate research with professors to gain experience. Apply for undergraduate research fellowships or other student research programs. Maintain a high grade point average and develop good references in preparation for graduate school. Develop excellent computer skills. Join related professional associations. Read scientific journals or articles to stay abreast of current research. Learn federal and state government job application process.

Applied Plant Sciences

Areas

  • Agronomy
  • Biotechnology
  • Breeding
  • Economic Botany
  • Food Science and Technology
  • Forestry
  • Horticulture
  • Natural Resource Management
  • Plant Pathology

Employers

  • Colleges and universities
  • Research organizations
  • Agriculture industry including lumber and paper, seed and nursery, fruit and vegetable growers, fermentation, food industry, and biological supply houses
  • Biotechnology firms
  • Industries including petrochemical, pharmaceutical, and chemical
  • Ecological consulting companies
  • Federal, state, and local government agencies
  • Environmental and biotechnical regulatory agencies

Strategies

Take courses or double major in your area of interest. Gain relevant experience through volunteer positions, part-time work, or internships. Obtain a Ph.D. for teaching, advanced research positions, and administration. Learn a foreign language for international work such as plant studies in the tropics. Learn federal, state and local government job application process.

Organismic Specialties

Areas

  • Bryology
  • Lichenology
  • Microbiology
  • Pteridology
  • Mycology
  • Phycology/Marine Botanists

Employers

  • Colleges and universities
  • Research organizations
  • Federal and state government laboratories including Agriculture, Health, etc.
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Food and beverage industries including brewing and fermentation
  • Hospitals
  • Related industries

Strategies

Gain experience working with technology. Become familiar with laboratory procedures and equipment. Assist a professor with research or find a part-time job in a laboratory. Obtain a graduate degree in area of interest.

Education

Areas

  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Administration

Employers

  • Public and private high schools
  • Colleges and universities
  • Museums, botanical gardens and herbaria

Strategies

Gain certification or licensure for high school science teaching. Obtain a Ph.D. for positions in college teaching and research. Gain experience through tutoring. Learn to work well with different types of people.

Communication

Areas

  • Writing
  • Editing
  • Botanical Illustration

Employers

  • Publishing companies including newspapers, magazines, books, and textbooks
  • Professional associations
  • Scientific and educational software companies
  • Non-profit organizations

Strategies

Take courses in technical writing, journalism, or illustration. Develop word processing and desktop publishing skills or computer-aided design. Find an internship with a magazine, newspaper, or publisher. Obtain a master's degree in scientific journalism.

Law

Areas

  • Agricultural
  • Environmental
  • Biotechnological

Employers

  • Law firms with environmental focus
  • Government agencies and regulatory agencies
  • Biotechnical regulatory firms or agencies

Strategies

Obtain law degree after completion of bachelor's degree. Gain relevant experience by working at a law firm.

Business

Areas

  • Sales/Marketing
  • Administration/Management

Employers

  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Seed companies
  • Biotechnology firms
  • Scientific publishers
  • Biological supply houses

Strategies

Earn a minor in business. Hold leadership positions in campus organizations. Join related professional associations. Develop good communication skills; take a course in public speaking. Learn various software packages including spreadsheets, databases, and word processing.

Computer Programming

Areas

Employers

  • Scientific and educational software companies

Strategies

Double major or minor in computer programming. Gain related work experience through internships or part-time and summer jobs.

General Information

  • Bachelor's degree qualifies one for work as a laboratory technician or technical assistant in education, industry, government, museums, parks, and gardens.
  • Master's degree opens some opportunities in research and administration.
  • Ph.D. is required for advanced research and administrative positions or college teaching. Most plant scientists work in higher education.
  • Build good relationships with science professors and secure strong recommendations. Maintain a high g.p.a. for graduate school admission.
  • Obtain part-time, summer, co-op, volunteer, or internship experience with government agencies, college/university labs, agricultural experiment stations, freshwater and marine biological stations, or private companies.
  • Complete an undergraduate research project to decide on a specific area of interest in botany.
  • Enjoy outdoor activities if planning to conduct research in an outdoor environment.
  • Join organizations concerned with the world food supply and other related areas. Read scientific journals related to botany.
  • Develop an excellent background in mathematics and strong verbal and written communication skills.
  • Select a broad range of courses in English, social sciences, arts, and humanities.
  • Become proficient with computers.

Prepared by the Career Planning staff of Career Services at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. (1995, Revised 2000, 2005) UTK is an EEO/AA/Title VI/Title IX/Section 504/ADA/ADEA Employer.