Botanist

plant biologist

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would study plants so we can use them to make food, drugs and different materials.

You’d discover more about how plants thrive so we can protect them and keep our surroundings pleasant and healthy.

You would analyse, interpret and report on data. You’d examine all types of plants including fungi and algae, either in the laboratory or in their natural environment.

You could specialise in:

  • The study of specific plant groups
  • Plant anatomy and physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular biology
  • Genetics
  • Ecology
  • Marine botany
  • Paleobotany (study of fossilised plant remains)
  • Taxonomy (the identification and classification of plants)

You could work in a wide range of industries including agriculture, conservation, forestry, pharmaceuticals and food science. Your role would vary depending on the particular job.

You could:

  • Identify, classify, record and monitor plant species
  • Do ecological surveys and environmental impact assessments
  • Manage a plant collection, for example, at a botanic gardens
  • Search for new species
  • Study the effects of pollution or new buildings on plant life
  • Identify and purify chemicals produced by plants so they can be used in products such as drugs, food, fabrics, solvents and building materials

You would present research results in academic journals and at conferences. You might also teach at a university or train and supervise junior staff and volunteers.

Working conditions

Hours

Your working hours will vary according to the project. Some processes may involve continuous monitoring, which will mean working unsocial hours.

Travel

Fieldwork can involve a lot of travel, often overseas, so you may have to spend long periods of time away from home.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Communicating ideas through writing
  • Accuracy
  • Working with your hands
  • Using computers
  • Finding solutions to problems
  • Being logical
  • Researching and investigating
  • Paying attention to detail

Build your skills

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

To understand more, have a look at what are my skills?

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on Apprenticeships.scot.

Qualifications

You need a degree (SCQF level 9/10) in plant science or a biology-related subject. Relevant degree subjects include:

  • Botany
  • Plant biology
  • Plant Science
  • Environmental science
  • Ecology

To enter a degree in plant science or biology usually requires National 5s and at least four Highers or a relevant HNC/HND.

You may be able to gain entry into the second year of some degree courses with a relevant Higher National Certificate (SCQF Level 7) or Higher National Diploma (SCQF Level 8). 

Some universities offer an integrated master's degree in biological sciences (SCQF Level 11) combining a degree with a master's over five years.   

Useful subjects

  • Maths (required by most courses)
  • Science subjects, biology preferred (required for most courses)
  • English
  • Geography

Helpful to have

Qualifications and experience that demonstrate good analytical capabilities, scientific and laboratory skills such as Skills for Work Laboratory Science (SCQF level 5) are of value.