plant biologist
Science, mathematics and statistics

Career outlook for botanist

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

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


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


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





Self employed


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  • Building relationships
  • Written communication
  • Observation
  • Researching
  • Attention to detail
  • Sorting
  • Time management
  • Analysing
  • Recalling
  • Understanding

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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


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.