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Sciences careers

Zoological & Botanical Sciences

Why get into zoological & botanical scientists?

Contrary to popular belief, zoologists don’t spend their days cleaning up elephant excrement, riding around on hippos and playing pool with the orangutans. Although that does sound like fun (apart from the elephant bit), they have more pressing things to do.

Anyone who has a fascination with the animal kingdom and a love for science will keel over with jealousy when they read this: zoologists spend their professional life observing, studying and researching animals.

Yep, that’s right. These guys might conduct research in the wild or in a laboratory. They might be sitting in a lab surrounded by microscopes and petri dishes or they might be pursuing antelope across the Serengeti in the back of a Land Rover. Wherever your career takes you, your primary objective will be to learn as much as possible about animals and their habitats.

Pretty cool, right?

For anyone more interested in flowers, shrubbery and other vegetation, botanical sciences is yet another strand of biology, which involves studying every aspect of plant life.

How do I get into zoology & botany

Understandably, zoologists and botanical scientists have very different specialisms. Zoologists focus their efforts on studying animals. They gather data, samples and specimens, conduct tests and carry out detailed investigations in order to develop a better understanding of the animals. Botanical science is concerned with understanding everything about plant life; from plant diseases, to how they survive in different environments.

To become a superstar zoologist or botanist, you are certainly going to need an undergraduate degree in a relevant subject, i.e. zoology, botany or biology. Most people that develop a career in these areas have studied at a postgraduate level too. It might take some time to qualify, but it’ll certainly be worth the journey.

Employers will be looking for people with a genuine passion for this area of science; so why not start by volunteering at your local zoo or garden centre? Get involved, develop your knowledge and learn lots of new things by asking tons of questions.

How do zoological & botanical careers progress?

It’s not often that zoologists study loads of different animals. Instead, it’s probably more common to focus your research on one specific species. For instance, you might study one tiny beetle that can only be found in the Peruvian Andes. Alternatively, you might be head over to the Sichuan province of China to study pandas.

Whatever you do, you’ll monitor how animals interact with each other or studying the devastating effects of diseases. The discovery of diseases might even lead to the development of cures or remedies which will allow the animal population to thrive for years to come.

Botanical scientists get their teeth into some serious research and find out the best ways to keep plant life flourishing. This involves investigating anything; from pesticides and plant food, to harvesting and heat control. You might even be developing products that make plants grow bigger, better and more luscious than ever before. For instance, the guys that developed Miracle-Gro were certainly a dynamic team of botanical scientists.

Botanists will also study plant diseases, soil types and the impact of insect activity to make sure that the planet is overflowing with wonderful and vital plants for ever more.

Zoologists don’t just work in zoos and botanists don’t just work in garden centres. No, no, you might be working in labs, government agencies or pharmaceutical companies. Alternatively, you might be taking the academic route and working in colleges or universities.

So, if you fancy a career on more of the wild side, perhaps zoological or botanical science could be for you!

Check out which universities offer zoology as a degree course, and which ones offer botany on the Courses section of the site!

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