Similar Titles

Botanist, Plant Taxonomist, Plant Ecologist, Plant Morphologist, Plant Geneticist, Plant Pathologist, Ethnobotanist, Plant Systematist, Plant Conservationist, Plant Physiologist

Job Description

The vast majority of life on Earth either eats plants or eats other life forms that eat plants. Plants also produce oxygen, which most organisms need to survive. So it’s fair to say that without plants, life on Earth could hardly exist at all! 

That’s why we need expert Botanical Specialists to identify and classify plants, study their physiology and genetics, and evaluate their unique ecological significance. So what’s the difference between a Botanist and a Botanical Specialist?  

“Botanicals are parts of plants—the leaves, flowers, seeds, bark, roots, twigs, or other parts,” notes WebMD. “The three common forms of botanicals are: Botanical preparations, Botanical drugs, and Essential oils.” 

Botanical Specialists are crucial in many sectors, such as biodiversity conservation and agriculture, but their work in medicinal development is especially important. In fact, their knowledge literally forms the foundation for many health and wellness industries, thus highlighting their importance to our society.

Rewarding Aspects of Career
  • Protecting plants and related ecosystems 
  • Ensuring human populations have enough crops to eat and plants for medicinal purposes
  • Impacting the physical health and well-being of communities 
  • Flexibility and variety of work that is available
2021 Employment
2031 Projected Employment
The Inside Scoop
Job Responsibilities

Working Schedule

  • Botanical Specialists may work full or part-time jobs. Travel for site visits may be needed, so there could be exposure to inclement weather or hazards such as pests or chemicals. 

Typical Duties

  • Grow botanical plants under controlled conditions for study, conservation, or commercial purposes
  • Conduct research to gain a better understanding of botanical plants, growth, diseases, genetics, and distribution
  • Use specialized equipment and software for research, such as microscopes, chromatographs, and molecular biology tools
  • Collect and analyze botanical samples from various environments for study and classification
  • Work on preserving endangered botanical species and habitats; record findings and maintain databases
  • Help to maintain public access to botanical gardens for scientific and educational purposes
  • Study plant diseases and develop methods to control or eradicate them
  • Modify botanical plant genes to develop new or improved varieties
  • Study the role of plants in ecosystems to understand ecological relationships
  • Offer insights to government agencies, companies, and non-governmental organizations 
  • Advocate for plant conservation, biodiversity, and sustainable land use practices
  • Prepare applications for land use; obtain permits and prepare contracts
  • Plan and conduct activities and projects, including cost estimations, budget tracking, and supply procurement, as needed

Additional Responsibilities

  • Collaborate with ecologists, conservationists, and agricultural experts to address biological challenges
  • Write research papers, articles, and reports; share findings with the scientific community and public
  • Stay up-to-date on crop/plant-related regulations, standards, and issues
  • Submit records and technical reports to local, state, or federal agencies 
  • Help with public education and awareness programs
  • Calibrate equipment, track samples, enter data, and coordinate with labs
Skills Needed on the Job

Soft Skills

  • Active learning
  • Activities coordination 
  • Analytical 
  • Attention to detail
  • Communication skills 
  • Critical thinking
  • Decisive
  • Detail-oriented
  • Independent
  • Investigative
  • Monitoring 
  • Objective
  • Organized
  • Perceptive 
  • Persistence 
  • Problem-solving
  • Reasoning
  • Safety-oriented

Technical Skills

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Botanical plant physiology, breeding and genetics, physiology and biochemistry, propagation, cultivation, and pathology
  • Data visualization programs
  • Disease and pest prevention methods
  • Ecology and ecosystem management
  • Environmental monitoring tools
  • Fieldwork, sampling, and lab techniques
  • First aid/safety protocols (working with hand tools and around pests, pesticides, and chemicals)
  • Genomics and bioinformatics
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing tools
  • Knowledge of local, state, and federal laws and contract rules
  • Microbiology and molecular biology
  • Personal protective equipment use
  • Plant soil interactions
  • Project management
  • Scientific writing 
  • Statistical analysis
Different Types of Organizations
  • Biotechnology companies
  • Botanical gardens
  • Educational institutions
  • Horticulture businesses
  • Laboratories
  • Nurseries
  • Local, state, and federal governmental agencies
Expectations and Sacrifices

All vegetables are botanical plants, but not all botanical plants are vegetables!

Botanical Specialists are experts on botanical plants, such as ferns, succulents (like aloe vera), trees, shrubs, herbs, vines, aquatic plants, flowers (such as Echinacea and Chamomile), and edible Plants (like turmeric and ginger). 

They not only identify and classify these plants but must understand their unique roles in ecosystems—and in the world of health and wellness products. 

They also play a pivotal role in conservation and sustainability, working with environmentalists and policymakers to safeguard natural habitats and ensure our planet's biodiversity thrives.

Current Trends

Consumers are pivoting to skincare products infused with botanical ingredients like aloe vera and chamomile, valued for their natural healing properties, as they move away from synthetics. Meanwhile, the health industry is seeing a surge in adaptogens like ashwagandha and Rhodiola. These plants, often found in teas and supplements, are believed to combat stress and balance the body.

With this rise in demand for botanicals, there’s more emphasis on sustainable and ethical sourcing. Many green companies are focusing on responsible harvesting to protect ecosystems and ensure resource longevity!

What kinds of things did people in this career enjoy doing when they were younger…

Botanical Specialists are analytical and likely excelled in science from an early age. They also probably grew up working in gardens or with house plants. Someone close to them may have taught them a few of the countless benefits botanicals can contribute to human health! 

Education and Training Needed
  • Botanical Specialists generally need a bachelor’s with a major in botany, horticulture, plant biology, or a related field
  1. A master’s may not be needed but can make you more competitive and potentially qualify you for a higher starting salary or position
  • Some students opt to pursue a dual bachelor’s/master’s which can save time and money
  • An internship can develop practical skills. Study abroad opportunities are another way to expand your learning outcomes!  
  • Common college course topics include:
  1. Biochemistry (plants)
  2. Botany 
  3. Cell biology
  4. Climate science
  5. Garden design
  6. Genetic transformation of plant cells
  7. Horticultural 
  8. Plant biology 
  9. Plant breeding and genetics 
  10. Plant ecology
  11. Plant metabolism
  12. Plant pathology and plant-microbe biology 
  13. Soil and crop sciences
  14. Traditional healing using plants
  • Optional related certifications include:  
  1. American Society for Horticultural Science 

        - Associate Professional Horticulturist    

  1. American Society of Agronomy

        - Certified Crop Adviser - Resistance Management Specialty
        - Certified Crop Adviser - Sustainability Specialty

Things to look for in an University
  • Students should seek colleges offering majors in botany, horticulture, plant biology, or a related field
  • Seek programs with internships or opportunities to get practical experience 
  • Compare tuition and fees costs, noting in-state vs. out-of-state costs
  • Review scholarship and financial aid options
  • See if the program has any partnerships with companies that hire grads! 
  • Take note of graduation and job placement statistics for alumni 
Things to do in High School and College
  • Sign up for high school classes in biology, chemistry, math, environmental studies, Earth science, physics, geology, ecology, statistics, and writing
  • Consider doing advanced placement classes if possible, as well as laboratory work
  • Start your own botanical garden at home or at a community plot 
  • Look for internships, cooperative experiences, part-time jobs, or volunteer projects while in college
  • You could work at a botanical garden, arboretum, aquarium, plant nursery, on a farm, or for a local college!
  • Ask a teacher or counselor about school-related botanical plant programs
  • Participate in extracurricular activities where you can manage projects and work with teams
  • Read books and articles and watch YouTube channels about botanical plants
  • Get in the habit of reading technical materials such as scientific papers
  • Request an informational interview with a working Botanical Specialist in your community
  • Join professional organizations to learn, share, make friends, and grow your network (see our list of Resources > Websites)
  • Keep track of the names and contact info of people who can serve as job references later
Typical Roadmap
Botanical Specialist
How to Land your 1st job
  • Check out job portals like, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Monster, CareerBuilder, SimplyHired, ZipRecruiter, USAJOBS,, and Greenhouse Grower 
  • Look on Craigslist for local opportunities with smaller employers 
  • Be ready to accept entry-level positions to get experience so you can work your way up
  • Take note of important keywords in job postings. Work them into your resume and cover letters
  • Check out Botanical Specialist (or Botanist) resume examples and search online for sample interview questions
  • Tell everyone in your professional network that you’re looking for work
  • Ask your college professors, former supervisors, and/or coworkers if they’re willing to serve as personal references. Don’t give out their personal contact information without prior permission
  • Do mock interviews with your school’s career center or with your friends, so you’ll feel prepared and more relaxed during real interviews
  • Dress appropriately for interviews and show your enthusiasm for and knowledge of the field 
How to Climb the Ladder
  • Let your supervisor know you want to take on additional responsibilities and are willing to undergo additional training, as needed. Be sure you understand the promotion criteria
  • Learn about emerging technologies through continuing education courses, workshops, or conferences
  • Keep up with trends and challenges that impact soil and plants or relate to natural resources, pest management, forestry, etc. 
  • Demonstrate independence, integrity, and leadership, so you can be put in charge of projects such as arboretum collections, community gardens, or other sites
  • Participate in professional organizations like the Botanical Society of America. Go to conferences and workshops. Give lectures. Keep learning and expanding your knowledge base and skills
  • Collaborate effectively with team members and develop strong relationships with local environmental agencies
  • Publish papers in botanical journals to demonstrate your research skills and to get your work seen by a wider audience
  • Complete a graduate degree and consider specializing in a hard-to-fill niche
  • Keep an eye out for internal job postings! Apply to jobs that match your career goals
  • You may have to apply for a job with a larger organization—or launch your own business—to reach your unique career and salary goals
Recommended Tools/Resources



  • A Gardener’s Guide to Botany: The biology behind the plants you love, how they grow, and what they need, by Scott Zona 
  • Botanical Curses and Poisons: The Shadow-Lives of Plants, by Fez Inkwright 
  • How Plants Work: The Science Behind the Amazing Things Plants Do, by Linda Chalker-Scott
  • The Botanical Bible: Plants, Flowers, Art, Recipes & Other Home Uses, by Sonya Patel Ellis 
  • The Science of Plants: Inside Their Secret World, by DK
Plan B

The Botanical Specialists’ career path can be less straightforward than some related careers, including those of botanists and plant scientists. Many towns and cities simply don’t have a lot of openings for workers in this field. If you’re interested in associated career options, consider the below similar occupations: 

  • Agricultural and Food Science Technician    
  • Agricultural Engineer
  • Biochemists and Biophysicist    
  • Biologist
  • Botanist
  • Chemical Technician    
  • Conservation Scientist and Forester    
  • Environmental Scientist and Specialist    
  • Farmer, Rancher, and Agricultural Manager    
  • Industrial Ecologist
  • Microbiologist    
  • Plant Scientist
  • Precision Agriculture Technician
  • Veterinarian    
  • Zoologist and Wildlife Biologist


Online Courses and Tools