Your green thumb and love for plants can lead to a rewarding career as a field botanist. For this position, be prepared to get your hands dirty. Field botanists, who are also scientists, study everything about plants, including functions, origins and even how humans use them on a daily basis.
There is no typical day for a field botanist. On one day, you may be studying plants out in the field. Another day may focus on conducting research on fungi and bacteria in a lab. Field botanists also help to find new drugs or study how to increase the production of crops. They also study plants to discover new species and learn how plants grow in different climates.
According to the Botanical Society of America, you must have a bachelor's degree in botany, biology or a related field. This degree can lead to an entry-level position as a lab technician or a technical assistant. For advanced positions, you need at least a master's degree, or a Ph.D. for teaching and research positions. Also, jobs and internships in the field can be an asset to employers and make you stand out from the crowd.
For this position, you need to be an outdoorsy person. Field botanists spend time traveling, which may include visits to forests, botanical gardens and parks throughout the world. Good science skills are an asset, especially for using microscopes to study plant cells and researching plants to look for cures for diseases. Effective communications skills are important for working on team projects and teaching students in a classroom. Field botanists must have a broad knowledge of math. including calculus and statistics. They use math while performing experiments in the lab and preparing research reports.
Field botanists are needed in a variety of areas, including museums, botanical gardens, medical labs and national parks. They may work for farms, examining plants, or research the effects of plants on the environment for a nonprofit organization. Field botanists are also known for teaching in both high school and college environments. Don't expect a regular 9-to-5 position sitting behind a desk. They tend to travel a lot and spend time out in the field.
Dachell McSween has contributed to the "New York Daily News" and "Black Enterprise Magazine." She also writes for various online publications. McSween received a B.A. in journalism from Pace University and an M.S. in publishing from New York University.