A career as a Botanist

Botanists study all forms of plant life in the laboratory or in their natural environment. They work for a wide range of industries including agriculture, environmental conservation, forestry, pharmaceuticals, and food science.

Botanists work in a variety of areas, including field research, laboratory research, managing plant collections, as curators of botanic gardens or keepers of herbariums. They may also be lecturers within higher education. Specialisms include plant anatomy and physiology, biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, ecology, marine biology, palaeobotany and taxonomy.

Botanists may work with other scientists and technicians, volunteers from conservation organisations and representatives from local and national government and industry. There are lots of specialist options, as botany relates to many areas of plant science. If you’re fascinated by plants and keen to work in science, this could be an ideal career choice.

Also known as: Plant Biologist

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You’ll need:

  • a strong interest in plants and science

  • a degree in a relevant subject

  • observational and analytical skills

  • initiative to develop ideas and solve problems

  • accuracy in recording data

  • strong communication and team working skills

Having a driving licence is handy if travelling between sites.

Typical salaries
range from
Typical Hours

Working hours vary according to the job. Botanists taking part in research and in higher education usually work a standard full-time week, Monday to Friday. Additional hours may be required at busy times.

Those working in conservation may host open days for the public or work with volunteers. They may also have to attend evening meetings.

Day to Day
  • Conduct scientific surveys of natural habitats

  • Identify, record and monitor plant species and search for new species

  • Conserve, protect, manage and enhance plant life, promoting public awareness through activities or managing and curating plant collections

  • Carry out research in a laboratory environment

  • collecting and analysing data, writing reports and making recommendations based on the results of experiments or observations

  • Lecture in a university or college

Working Environment

Experimental botanists work mostly in laboratories conducting research, while environmental botanists spend a lot of time in the field recording observations.

Botanists in higher education divide their time between lecture theatres, laboratories and offices. Conservation botanists work in offices and laboratories, as well as in the field. Field researchers spend most of their time outdoors, although this varies depending on the season.

Botanists can work all over the world and may have to cope with challenging climates. Fieldwork can be physically demanding.

Training Available

Training is an essential part of any job, giving you the skills and knowledge you need to do your job safely and correctly. It also helps to strengthen your current skill set and prepares you for the next stage in your career.


Apprenticeships help you build the experience and skills that employers want to see. No matter what stage you’re at, they’ll help set you up for a bright future. There are lots of ways to get involved.

Botanist opportunities and careers paths

Career progression for conservationists and field researchers usually involves taking on more responsibility for projects and managing others. In universities, there’s a promotion ladder, from researcher to lecturer, to senior lecturer, professor or head of department.

Some botanists become freelance consultants. You may have to take a postgraduate qualification in a specialist subject and gain professional qualifications to progress in your career.


Botanist will usually work in one of the following industries. Click below to find out more about possible career paths.

Horticulture & Landscaping

The world of horticulture and landscaping is fast-moving, ever-changing and leading the way in combatting climate change.

Growing and harvesting plants for financial, environmental or social benefits not only helps the environment, it can also boost wellbeing – and from lawn mowing to landscaping, greenkeeping to scientific research, horticulture offers a huge range of rewarding careers.

Humans have been been growing plants and maintaining the natural environment since ancient times and horticulture has never stopped changing and adapting. As we learn more about the impact of climate change and weather extremes, horticulturalists are dealing with some of the biggest issues of the day: what will we plant in the future if resources like water and nutrients become limited? How do we make the most of the rapid advances in growing techniques, machinery, and cultivation?

Horticulture and landscaping plays an important part in our economy. It’s a dynamic industry, with continuous research and development and a focus on using technology to make growing more sustainable. That has created a range of exciting job opportunities for people who are passionate about plants, science and growing solutions.

  • The UK horticulture industry is worth over £9 billion each year

  • The industry supports the employment of almost 340,000 people, with landscapers and retailers accounting for 83% of the total

  • Private gardening is an important activity for UK citizens, with households spending £7.5bn on gardening goods, including cut-flowers, a year

  • The Republic of Ireland's horticulture industry is valued at €477m; it is the fourth largest industry after dairy, beef and pigs in terms of gross agricultural commodity output value

  • The industry employs approximately 17,000 people in the Republic of Ireland - an estimated 6,600 people directly employed full-time and another 11,000 indirectly employed in value-added and downstream businesses

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Qualifications for a Botanist

These courses are perfect if you are starting out on your career but they are also great for people already in jobs who want to improve their skills.

To find out more about qualification levels in the Republic of Ireland, please visit National Framework of Qualifications for Ireland (NFQIE)

To find out more about qualification levels in Scotland please visit Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF).

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Title Level
Training for a Botanist

These courses are perfect if you are starting out on your career but they are also great for people already in jobs who want to improve their skills.

About Apprenticeships

Work, earn and learn

Whether you’re just starting out in the workplace, want to upskill or are considering changing direction, Apprenticeships are a fantastic way to build your career. Apprenticeships combine work with on-the-job training, so if you want to earn as you learn, there’s an apprenticeship out there for you – you can even start an apprenticeship if you already have a degree.

Apprenticeships for a career as an Botanist

All about Apprenticeships

Work, earn and learn – no matter where you are in your career, an apprenticeship can set you up for a bright future.

Let’s get started!

Want to take on an apprentice? Employers start here.

What is an Apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a unique blend of work experience and study to help build the skills and knowledge you need for your career. Apprentices are employees – they have a contract, are paid and get the same benefits as everyone else. But the difference between an apprenticeship and a normal job is that apprentices are regularly released from work for training. Sometimes that’s a day a week, sometimes it’s for a longer block – it all depends on the job and the apprenticeship.

Apprentices work for all kinds of people at all kinds of stages in their lives. Most apprentices fall into one of three categories:

  • someone who is just starting their career
  • someone who already has a job and wants to move forward in their company
  • someone who already has a job and wants to retrain to make a career change.

Previously restricted to school leavers and young people, apprenticeships are now a dynamic way of retraining people of all ages - there’s no upper age limit. The minimum age to become an apprentice is 16 and candidates can’t be in full-time education.

Benefits of an Apprenticeship

Apprenticeships offer a unique combination of paid work and study. They’re an exciting option for anyone who wants to gain experience, upskill or change career while working.

They offer a chance to work, learn and earn:

  • workplace experience and skills development
  • a nationally recognised qualification
  • employee benefits and a wage
  • no student loans or tuition fees
  • contact with industry professionals.


Interested in becoming an apprentice? Search for current opportunities and apply here.

Find your apprenticeship

You can also check vacancies on employer websites or get in touch with your local careers service.

Apprenticeship Stories

What’s it like to work, earn and learn? Find out what apprentice life is really like.

Explore apprenticeship stories

Alternatives to Apprenticeships

Useful Information

Useful Links

Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI)
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Discover Green Jobs for Nature (CIEEM)
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Horticulture Wales
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Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society (The Caley)
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Royal Horticultural Society (RHS)
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Chartered Institute of Horticulture (CIH)
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Horticulture Forum NI
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Horticultural Trades Association (HTA)
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Funding Options

Thinking about your finances is important when you're looking at courses and training - different types of funding support is available depending on what type of course you're interested in and where you are located. We recommend you contact the training provider for more information on course costs and financing, but here are some links to connect you to support available:

Skills Hub Scotland

Skills Hub Scotland is an online skill sharing marketplace creating new opportunities to learn and share skills. Wherever you are located - if you have a skill to share, or a skill to learn, Skills Hub Scotland can help.

Initially founded as a response to the Scottish Government’s CivTech 5 programme in 2020 and aiming to offer a platform for those in rural or remote locations, Skills Hub Scotland has been developed into an important sectoral resource. If you have a skill to share with others or are a training provider, list your workshop or course (all skills from all sectors are welcome). If you are a learner, use Skills Hub Scotland to search for and book a course!


STEM is an approach to learning and development that incorporates the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Learning in STEM connects to Education for Sustainable Development/Learning for Sustainability and the Sustainable Development Goals – this helps learners to understand that STEM plays a vital role in finding solutions to real world issues or challenges such as protecting biodiversity and tackling climate change. There are multiple pathways into a land-based STEM career including apprenticeships, further and higher education. This means that a career in STEM is open to everyone!

STEM Learning is the largest provider of STEM education and careers support in the UK. Their STEM Ambassadors programme sees volunteers representing a vast range of STEM-related jobs work with young people to bring STEM subjects alive through real life experiences. They help to open the doors to a world of opportunities and possibilities which come from pursuing STEM subjects and careers. To become a STEM Ambassador, you can register via the STEM Learning website: https://www.stem.org.uk/stem-ambassadors/join-stem-ambassador-programme

Lantra have worked in collaboration with STEM Ambassadors in Scotland to create two specific UK-wide Ambassadors schemes - Forestry and Aquaculture. Through these schemes, we want to make sure that those working in forestry and aquaculture have the support materials they need to take part in STEM activities. To find out more and register for the schemes, please follow the links below:

Smart Futures helps young people in Ireland discover the STEM subjects and careers that might be right for them. Co-ordinated and managed by Science Foundation Ireland, their programme allows young people to connect with people that are working in STEM, the organisations they’re working in and what their interests and skills are.

Not sure what you want to do?

Why not take a look at the Industries Explorer as an introduction to the different areas you could work in.

If we can support you with any specific information, please click the button below to get in touch.