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Environmental Botanist Profile

 
Introduction

This Section of the site details information that you might find useful if you are looking to secure employment or require further details regarding working as an Environmental Botanist. This page details the following Information:-

  • Finding Suitable Work as an Environmental Botanist
  • Working Duties Expected
  • Hours and Environment
  • Working Skills Required
  • Training Requirements
  • Salary Expectations
  • Trade Information
  • Other useful Environmental Botanist Work Information


Finding Suitable Work

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Working Duties Expected

The following description is an overview of what the above job position entails, what kind of salary you can expect, what hours are involved in carrying out the work, where you can find additional information about the job in both web and trade publication formats and the required skills that may help you in looking for employment in this particular field.

Botanist - An Overview:

Botanists explore and study plants. They can work in many different roles. Some identify, record and monitor plant species, and search to find new species in the UK and overseas. Others may protect, manage and enhance the plant life in a particular area. Some work in laboratories, identifying and purifying potentially useful chemicals produced by plants, which may be used in anything from drugs to building materials. There are also opportunities to teach in universities.

Hours can vary. Botanists working in laboratories and in teaching usually work a 37 hour week, from Monday to Friday. Those working in field and conservation work may spend a lot of time outdoors in all weather conditions, and could be required to work irregular hours, including weekends.

A botanist needs:

• an enquiring mind with good problem-solving skills
• teamwork and leadership skills
• an interest in science and plants.

There are opportunities for botanists in universities, private research establishments, conservation organisations, local authorities, nature reserves and country parks, botanical gardens and collections, and in industries like food, pharmaceuticals and oil. There is intense competition for many jobs. There may be the opportunity to work overseas.

It is possible to enter at trainee or technician level with GCSEs/S grades or A levels/H grades, or the equivalent, but most botanists have degrees. Relevant subjects include plant biology and plant sciences. People over the age of 40 years may have difficulty in finding a first job.

Most field and conservation botanists work, and are trained, as volunteers before starting paid employment. Other employers may offer on-the-job training.
There are few promotion opportunities for field and conservation botanists. Those in laboratories and university teaching may be promoted to senior positions. Some botanists move into writing or broadcasting.

What does the role encounter?

Botany is the study of plants. It is concerned with all kinds of plants from trees and flowers to algae, fungi, lichen and mosses. Because botany is such a wide field, there are many different roles for botanists.

They can work as field surveyors, conducting scientific surveys of natural habitats, both in the UK and overseas, identifying, recording and monitoring plant species and searching to find new species. In conservation, botanists are responsible for protecting, managing and enhancing the plant life in a particular area. They can work in laboratory research on a huge range of projects, eg discovering how plants convert simple chemical compounds into more complex chemicals, or studying how genetic information in DNA controls plant development. There are also opportunities to teach.

The tasks performed by botanists vary enormously according to their employer and the projects they are involved in. These tasks could include:

• studying, monitoring, classifying and keeping accurate records of plant species
• studying the structure of individual plant cells
• using sophisticated techniques and tools like electron microscopes, radioisotopes, digital imaging analysis, polymerase chain reaction, cell and tissue culture, satellite imaging and telemetry
• identifying and purifying potentially useful chemicals produced by plants, which may be used in drugs, food, fabrics, solvents and building materials
• studying the effects of different types of pollution on plants and using their results to advise the government on legislation for environmental protection
• using computer software packages to record data
• promoting public awareness through talks, tours, literature, displays and workshops, and liaising with the media
• motivating local groups to become involved in environmental issues
• applying for grants and funding
• training and supervising junior staff, researchers and volunteers
• teaching students in higher education and assessing their work
• presenting the results of their research in books and journals, and at academic conferences.

Botanists may work with other scientists and technicians, employees and volunteers from conservation and other organisations, and representatives from local and national government and industry.

What type of hours will I have to work?

Hours vary from post to post. Botanists working in research and higher education will usually work a 37 hour week, from Monday to Friday. Additional hours may be required at busy times. Those working in conservation may be required to host open days for the public or work with volunteers at weekends and bank holidays. Attendance at evening meetings may also be required. Botanists on field research will work when conditions are appropriate, eg night work would be required to study the effects of darkness on plants.

The working environment also varies. Research botanists will spend most of their time in laboratories. Those in higher education will divide their time between lecture theatres and classrooms, laboratories and offices. Conservation botanists will work in offices as well as outdoors in the field. The amount of time spent on fieldwork may decrease as the botanist progresses in their career. Field researchers can spend most of their time outdoors. They can work all over the world and may have to cope with difficult climates.

What level of salary and benefits are there?

These figures are purely for guidance only. Salaries may vary for the area the job is situated in, age, experience along with a host of other factors:

• Salaries start at around £15,000 a year.
• With more experience, this could rise to between £25,000 and £30,000.
• Some senior botanists can earn £45,000 a year.

What type of skills will I need?

You will need to have some or all of the following type of skills to carry out this job:

• have a logical mind and enjoy problem solving
• be able to keep accurate records of research
• be confident using IT
• be able to work in a team and on their own initiative
• have leadership skills to work with students, volunteers or junior staff
• have good communication skills to convey technical information to people with little or no scientific knowledge
• have a flexible and methodical approach to work, and be able to prioritise tasks
• be able to motivate and persuade people to donate funds or become involved in conservation
• have knowledge of a foreign language if intending to work overseas or with plant collections from abroad.

What type of training will I receive?

Botanists in conservation and fieldwork have usually spent some time working voluntarily before taking up paid employment. Volunteers will receive training in plant identification and conservation techniques. Additional training may be provided by the employer. Identification qualifications to accredit existing skills are offered by the Natural History Museum. However, these qualifications are rarely a requirement for employment.

The Field Studies Council and the Botanical Society of the British Isles (BSBI) offer a wide range of training programmes in biological recording skills.

Employers in industry may offer their own in-house training courses.

Career Progression:

There is no established career structure for conservation and field research posts, and promotion prospects can be very limited. Career progression usually involves taking on more responsibility for planning and organising projects, and advising and/or managing others. Some botanists become self-employed and work as freelance consultants.

In universities there may be promotion from researcher to lecturer, and then to higher grades such as senior lecturer, professor or head of department.

There may be an established career structure within industries, with experienced botanists being promoted to more senior posts.

Botanists working on conservation, fieldwork or for multi-national companies may have the opportunity to work overseas.

Some botanists move into writing or broadcasting. With a science-based degree it may also be possible to apply for a shortened medical degree to train as a doctor.

Are there similar types of job or related industries?

Yes, this list is not exhaustive but see the following categories:

Agricultural/Horticultural Technician
Analytical Chemist
Countryside Ranger/Warden.

Where can I find further information?

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), 12 Whitehall, London SW1A 2DY. 020 7930 3477. Website: www.abpi.org.uk

British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV), Conservation Centre, 163 Balby Road, Doncaster, South Yorkshire DN4 0RH. 01302 572 244. Website: www.btcv.org

Botanical Society of the British Isles (BSBI). Website: www.bsbi.org.uk

English Nature, Northminster House, Peterborough PE1 1UA. 01733 455000. Website: www.english-nature.org.uk

Field Studies Council (FSC), Montford Bridge, Preston Montford, Shrewsbury, Shropshire SY4 1HW. 01743 852100. Website: www.field-studies-council.org

Institute of Food Science & Technology (IFST), 5 Cambridge Court, 210 Shepherd's Bush Road, London W6 7NJ. 020 7603 6316. Websites: www.ifst.org.uk and www.foodtechcareers.org

The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD. 020 7942 5000. Website: www.nhm.ac.uk

SEMTA, 14 Upton Road, Watford, Hertfordshire WD18 0JT. 0808 100 3682. Website: www.semta.org.uk

What trade magazines are available for this industry?

All of the following magazines and journals can be purchased from any good bookstore:

English Nature Magazine
Nature
New Scientist.

Other Useful Environmental Botanist Work Information

We have a section available at this site on Environmental Botanist job interview tips that you may find of interest should you wish to brush up your skills in this area and we also have number of career articles that may also be of use to you from within our guides and documents section.

Locations where we feature Jobs include:-
Aberdeen, Berkshire, Aberdeen, Bath, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Central London, Cheltenham, Cornwall, Coventry, Derby, Devon, Docklands, Dorset, Dundee, Durham, East Midlands, East Sussex, Edinburgh, Essex, Glasgow, Gloucester, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leeds, Leicester, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Midlands and in various parts of the West Midlands

Details of other Environmental Botanist Jobs can also be found in other UK wide areas including:-
Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Norfolk, North London, North Midlands, Northampton, Northamptonshire, Northern Ireland, Northumberland, Norwich, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Oxford, Oxfordshire, Plymouth, Salisbury, Scotland, Sheffield, Shropshire, Somerset, South East, South London, South Midlands, Southampton, Staffordshire Surrey, Swansea, Swindon, Telford, Wales, Warwickshire, West End, West London, West Midlands, Worcestershire, York and throughout Yorkshire.

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