Botanical Technician

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Botanical Technician


Plants and flowers not only provide aesthetic beauty to our gardens and freshen up our lives, but also act as important scientific materials for our basic needs and medicines. For one thing, without any greenery, humans would have a hard time getting the proper oxygen to breathe. Can you imagine a world without plants? Impossible!

Botany is the scientific study of plants, which includes a wide range of living organisms from the smallest bacteria to the largest living trees. Botanical technicians provide technical support and services to botanists and other professionals working in agricultural and plant biology. They study plants and plant systems and apply their technical assistance in the disciplines of biology, ecology, reclamation, agriculture, horticulture, forestry, plant breeding, medicine, pharmaceuticals, forensics and plant biotechnology.

Plants are chemical factories that produce all kinds of useful products to humans. Besides food, plants provide raw materials for paper, building materials, solvents and adhesives, fabrics, medicines, and many other products. Botanical technicians test the chemicals produced by different plants to help scientists find new uses for them. For example, we use some plant chemicals to treat certain types of cancer.

Since the field is so broad, botanical technicians may specialize in various areas such as plant genetics, conservation work, environmental biology, limnology (the study of freshwater plants, animals and chemistry), mycology (the study of fungi), or taxonomy and systematics (the classification of plants and their relationships). Some focus their work on field studies, searching for new species to perform experiments, while others study the ecology of plants, which is the interactions of plants with other organisms and the environment.

Botanical technicians who perform conservation work use their botanical knowledge to help manage parks, forests, rangelands, and wilderness areas. Public health and environmental protection professionals depend on their understanding of plant science to help solve pollution problems. Some botanical technicians organize and participate in field inventories, documenting species for various types of studies. Others work primarily in research and teaching. The results of botanical research have increased and improved our supply of medicines, foods, fibers, building materials, and other plant products.
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Concordia University - Portland

Online Learning at Concordia University–Portland

Programs Offered:
  • M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction: Science



  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
Median Salary:
Highest 10% of Earners:

  Interests and Skills  
Botanical technicians must have an interest in nature and an appreciation for all forms of plant life. They are quick learners and have the ability to work outdoors for extended periods of time. Most have a serious concern for the environment, and are interested in protecting endangered plant species. Many botanical technicians are open to interpreting facts in different ways, and have the ability to work both alone or in teams. They should have strong communication skills, both written and oral, and enjoy synthesizing biological information.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Set up, operate and maintain laboratories for botanical teaching and research
  • Care for plants and make sure they stay healthy
  • Collect specimens and samples, and grow cultures of micro-organisms
  • Prepare specimens for examination and perform experiments
  • Write reports on results and findings
  • Sterilize polluted or infected material
  • Check the quality of the products
  • Set up and maintain instruments and equipment
  • Some botanical technicians work primarily outdoors, collecting and identifying terrestrial and aquatic plants, taking samples, and surveying and documenting plant communities. Others work primarily indoors in offices, classrooms, laboratories and herbaria. Longer hours may be required, especially when botanical technicians have to meet deadlines. Yet, regular working hours are generally the norm for these technicians.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Botanical technicians work for governments, universities and colleges, research and development departments in large corporations, botanical gardens, herbaria and museums, biotechnology firms, and environmental, forestry and agricultural consulting firms.
  • Some botanical technicians work in marketing or administration of plant-related industries such as pharmaceutical or herbal medicine companies, seed companies, biotechnology firms, scientific publishers and biological supply houses.

  Long Term Career Potential  
With further education and experience, botanical technicians can become full fledged botanists. Then, potential for advancement as a botanist usually depends on the university degree of the individual. They may find work as interpretive naturalists, environmental reclamation technicians, or laboratory technicians in research facilities. Many work as consultants in the environmental, horticultural and agricultural sectors, while others may decide to work in research and teaching. With additional training, botanical technicians can become scientific writers, computer programmers or botanical illustrators.

  Educational Paths  
Botanical technicians usually require completion of a one- or two-year college program in botany or botanical technology. Certification in botanical technology or in a related field is available through associations of technologists and technicians and may be required by some employers. Usually, a two-year period of supervised work experience is required before certification as a botanical technician.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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Concordia University - Portland

Online Learning at Concordia University–Portland

Programs Offered:
  • M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction: Science

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