Careers in Plant Biology

What is a Green Degree? Find out here.

What can you do with a Plant Biology Degree? Find out here

The major employers of plant biologists are:

Educational Institutions range from community colleges to universities. Smaller colleges offer teaching positions in general plant biology. Universities employ faculty in general and specialized areas of plant biology as well as providing opportunity for more extensive research activity.

Federal and State Agencies employ plant biologists in many fields. Plant biologists hold positions in various branches of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The U.S. Department of the Interior employs botanists/plant biologists to work in the National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey. Plant scientists are also employed by the Public Health Service, State Department, NASA, Smithsonian Institution, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Similar positions are available in each of the 50 state governments.

Industry employs plant biologists in pharmaceutical companies, petrochemical industry, agri-chemical industry, lumber and paper industries, seed and nursery companies, fruit growers, food companies, biological supply houses, and biotechnology firms. Some of these include Syngenta, Monsanto, DuPont, and Pioneer Hi-Bred International.

Private Foundations and Organizations, such as the S. R. Noble Foundation, employ botanists/plant biologists in the biotechnology field who primarily are engaged in research. Ecologists and taxonomists are also employed by private foundations and organizations, such as The Nature Conservancy, the Natural Heritage Inventory, and the Missouri Botanical Gardens.

Some examples for plant biology-related careers:

Ecologists study interactions of plants with other organisms and the environment.
  • Study ecosystems of various plants and animals
  • Work to protect native wildlife, plants and ecosystems
  • Educate students at the university and high school level and also educate the public at museums and nature centers
  • Apply ecological knowledge to solve environmental problems
  • Advise private organizations and local, state and federal governments
For more information: Ecological Society of America

Systematists study individual plants and group them into species and then further organize species into more categories. These categories are based on similarities, which are established to represent theories as to the evolutionary relationships of the species.
  • Describe new species
  • Study existing species for their origins and their distinctiveness in nature
  • Curate or work in a herbarium
  • Identify plants for research, for education, and for the public
For more information: American Society of Plant Taxonomists

Cell and Molecular Biologists study the structure and function of genes and their specialized products.
  • Explore the foundations of plant biology
  • Improve classical breeding strategies
  • Introduce new genes into plants to improve growth characteristics, protect plants from diseases and stresses
  • Introduce new genes into plants to produce new products for medicinal or industrial use
For more information: American Society of Plant Biologists

Websites for Jobs and Internships:

Botanical Society of America
American Institute of Biological Sciences
Nature Journal
U.S. Department of Agriculture
USDA Agricultural Research Service
The Nature Conservancy

Office of Science
National Science Foundation
The Student Conservation Association
Noble Foundation
Missouri Botanical Gardens
The Natural Heritage Network