A botanist is a scientific professional who specializes in the study of plants. There are a number of fields in which botanists can work, from ecology to pharmaceuticals. In order to become a botanist, it is necessary to obtain a degree in botany; for people who want to advance in this field, it is usually important to have an advanced degree such as a masters or PhD in botany.
Someone who thinks that she or he might like to become a botanist should make an early start, taking lots of science and math electives in high school. If opportunities such as botany workshops, botany classes at local junior colleges, or participation in botany research present themselves, they should be taken. Someone who wants to become a botanist might also want to consider interning at a botany research facility, botanical library, or office of a botanist to learn more about botany careers and what the job is like on the ground.
Numerous colleges offer degree programs in botany. People may want to seek out colleges which focus on their area of interest. For example, someone who is interested in anthropology and botany might want to consider ethnobotany, which examines the uses of plants by native populations around the world. Someone who wants to help develop new medications might want to attend a college which offers pharmaceutical training, while people interested in botany from an ecology perspective would want to attend a college or university with a focus on ecology and environmental science.
For basic jobs in botany, all that's needed is a bachelor's degree. However, people who want to teach, engage in advanced research, or engage in more complex activities will need a higher degree. While studying in college to become a botanist, it is a good idea to get involved in research, if it is offered, and to take internships and jobs related to the field of botany during breaks, especially during the summer. Summer breaks offer an opportunity to do things like traveling to a field site to work with botanists and develop skills.
Botanists work in labs, in the field, and in classrooms. This field is very diverse, and includes things like: phytoanatomy, the study of plant anatomy; plant genetics; habitat restoration; paleobotany, looking at ancient plants; the study of climate change patterns; crop development; and many other things. Someone who wants to become a botanist should have an interest in plants and a passion for science and nature.