How Do I Apply my Plant Biology Degree?

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By Dave Cass
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Photo by Rafael Zamora via Unsplash

You could probably land a job in the industry. Possibly with a biotech company that specializes in seeds such as Pioneer Hi-Bred.  Although you might be successful with an undergraduate degree, it would probably be better to get a master’s or Ph.D. for more control over your employment.  Molecular plant biology is increasingly important in your background. With such training, your salary in one of the biotech companies might be pretty good.

A strategy for a more satisfying career would, in my opinion, involve getting a Ph.D. and an academic position at a research university.  This is not for everyone. However, for those prepared to invest a few years in postgraduate studies, it could be well worth it. For me, an academic career is nearly perfect since it provides a stimulating mix of research activities and teaching.

With an undergraduate degree in plant biology, you might land a job at a local botanic garden.  Sometimes local botanic gardens have research and/or teaching laboratories. The Huntington Botanical Gardens in Pasadena, CA is a good example of this.

A final comment.  For the last 20 years of my career, I was involved in experimental plant biology.  Although I’m successful at this (and, incidentally, the co-inventor of a patented technique useful for corn embryos), it would be far easier if I learned molecular plant biology as a student.  I think molecular biology is the “wave of the future” and one needs to be prepared for it.