Botany

How to become a Botanist



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So you want to become a botanist? Well, you have chosen a fantastic career path with endless possibilities! Botanists can specialize in a wide variety of areas according to their interest and talents. Are you obsessed with flowers and gardening? Then consider studying plant genetics or taxonomy. Do you want to save the world? Then you belong in conservation biology. Do you dream of discovering unknown information about ancient landscapes? There is even a field of botany just for you. Palynologists study preserved pollen grains found in sediment to learn more about ancient climates and landscapes. This is just the tip of the iceberg as botany includes plenty of other fantastic fields of study.

Botany is a competitive field with hundreds of people pursuing degrees in this intriguing science. The average botanist can count on a salary range of 35 to 80 thousands dollars per year, which is not too bad for following your passion. If you are just beginning your journey to become a botanist, then there are several steps you can take to insure that you reach your goal.

First, high school is the starting point. Take all the biology and math classes you can get your hands on, even if they only count for elective credits. Participate in science fairs and get as much hands-on experience with plants as you possibly can. Try to find an internship or even a part-time job at a plant nursery during the summer. This will be excellent preparation for college botany classes, and it looks great on your applications.

Once you graduate, select your college carefully. You can choose a school which offers biology degrees with concentrations in botany or a school that has an independent botany degree program. While you go through the application process, interview professors at your favorite schools. Ask plenty of questions and choose the college whose program best matches your career goals.

While you work on your education, make botany a passtime as well. Spend a lot of time on the Botanical Society of America's webpage at www.botany.org to learn all you can. Follow the dozens of links to learn more about individual concentrations and possibilities for botany careers. Make connections with people who are visible and powerful in the science world. These connections will carry you into the career of your dreams later on.

Volunteer your time to participate in your professor's personal research work. Find a great mentor and follow the research and experiments that shape a great botanist. This will help you glean great experience and a better idea of which field of botany suits you best. You might even be surprised to find a hidden passion for an area you thought would be bland or boring.

Once you've completed your undergraduate degree, choose your graduate school based on your specialty field of choice. Go to www.gradschools.com and study the list of universities that offer botany programs. Interview professors and students while you tour campuses. Don't make this decision hastily because your graduate education will truly shape your career path.

Once you begin graduate school, ask your advisor and professors about internships, volunteer research opportunities, and professional botany mentors. Soak up every bit of advice you receive and throw every spare moment into furthering your experience with botany research. This will bring you to the final moment when you receive your diploma and walk across the platform equipped to be the best botanist you could ever be. Now you are ready and you can select the job of your dreams.

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More about this author: Amber Benge

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