Plant biologists study the smallest parts of nature and the largest parts of it. From micro-organisms to the largest of the trees that pump out oxygen, plant biologists get to spent a lot of time outside working to protect the environment. Some may use biotechnologies, while others will focus on tissue culture to help develop new plants from single cells.
There are some advantages to becoming a plant biologist, but there are some disadvantages to this type of career as well. Here is a look at the pros and cons of a plant biologist.
The Pros of a Plant Biologist
1. Salaries are usually pretty high.
Plant biologists can usually command a salary that is higher than $80,000 per year. Although that may be problematic for some employers who need a skilled individual to meet their needs, it usually creates a win/win situation where specific research and development goals can be met while the plant biologist can earn a comfortable living.
2. Work can happen virtually anywhere.
Plant biologists are needed in a wide variety of environments. This might include a zoo, an arboretum, botanical gardens, or a medical plant farm. In states like Colorado and Washington, plant biologists are in high demand for the growing marijuana industry. From biological supply firms to pharmaceuticals to running one’s own greenhouses, there are enough options that appeal to everyone.
3. Above average growth is expected in this field.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the anticipated need for more plant biologists is expected to increase by about 20% until the year 2022. This gives new students a good chance to find employment in a career field that they love and a niche that they are passionate about.
4. Numerous work sectors are available.
Plant biologists can find work in the education world as teachers, in government as researchers, or in the private industry doing any number of tasks. There is virtually no limit to the value of a plant biologist in the current employment climate.
5. There are opportunities to change niche specialties frequently.
Although some might see permanent positions as being rare as a disadvantage to being a plant biologist, it also gives people the opportunity to explore new concepts on a frequent basis. The plant biologist often gets to control their own outcomes.
The Cons of a Plant Biologist
1. It requires an extensive education.
Most plant biologists need to have at least a 4 year undergraduate degree in botany or a similar field in order to find work. Education in social sciences, mathematics, and physics are often necessary for graduation. Many need to be highly involved in science clubs and other social groups, as well as participating in internships during their non-class time. Because the bachelor’s degree is becoming overvalued today, a master’s degree may be required to pursue specific goals.
2. Research positions almost always require a PhD.
With the cost of education today, a Ph.D in biology will be necessary for a research position as a plant biologist. Even in a fast track program all the way to the doctorate, the average person will need 8-12 years of schooling to achieve this. At an average cost of $20,000 per year for schooling, that means someone could be $250k or more in debt from their tuition needs before they every find employment.
3. There can be a lot of pressure involved.
Plant biologists are often expected to meet specific deadlines regarding their work, even if it is in a field that has had very little momentum within in it before. Much of the funding for their work also comes from grants, so professional duties must meet with the specific guidelines that have been outlined in the award. If that doesn’t happen, then the plant biologist could lose their employment.
4. It might mean some physically challenging work.
Being in the library or in the lab for research isn’t necessarily challenging. Needing to hike up to the summit of a 14,000 foot mountain to collect plant samples for research, on the other hand, could be incredibly challenging. Plant biologists often face diverse environments and must be in good enough shape to be able to meet those demands.
5. Workplace injuries add even more pressure.
Many industrial settings are automated to help created a higher throughput for the plant biologist. This means that there is a lot of investment value in the equipment being used. One slip-up not only means that workplace injuries could slow production down, but it could cost the company financially or hurt their reputation.