Careers in Plant Biology | Plant Biology | SIU

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Careers in Plant Biology

A degree in plant biology opens the door to many positions in educational institutions, federal, state, and local govennmental agencies, and a variety of industries. As is the case in most fields, highly technical jobs in plant biology often require training beyond the baccalaureate degree.

The need for well-trained specialists in certain areas of plant biology has never been greater, and the outlook for the future is very promising. For example, existing demands on all our natural resources have resulted in a demand for people trained in the botanical aspects of environmental sciences, agriculture, conservation, biogeography, land reclamation, water resources, and many other fields. The advent of the biotechnology era has brought with it a demand for specialists in plant physiology and biochemistry, especially in the areas of nutrition, metabolism, growth regulators, tissue culture, biomass production, and environmental stress. There is currently an increased demand for specialists in molecular genetics.

Since society's greatest need is for a constant supply of wholesome, nutritious food, the biotechnology industry uill continue to direct its interests and energies toward the production and improvement of food products. Running a close second to the need for food is the need for new and better medicinal drugs and new methods for their mass production. Since plants are our only primary source of food and since most of our medicinal drugs are obtained from plants, the food and pharmaceutical industries will need a continuous supply of well-trained plant biologists.

Following is a listing of many agencies and institutions that have need for trained plant biologists:

  • Educational Institutions: elementary and secondary school districts, community colleges, and universities (teaching and research positions are available).
  • Federal, State and Local Agencies: National Marine Fisheries Service, National Park Service, Peace Corps, Corps of Engineers, Health Service, and Vista; bureaus of foods, departments of agriculture, departments of conservation, energy research and development agencies, environmental protection agencies, forest services, water conservancy districts, municipal water companies, museums, botanical gardens, herbaria, and zoos.
  • Industry: agricultural sales, mariculture, agriculture, aquaculture, biological publishers, biological sales, biological supplies, biotechnology, chemical, food production and processing, environmental analysis, environmental consultation, lumber, paper, mining and reclamation, nursery and greenhouse, petrochemical, and pharmaceutical.


The SIU Department of Plant Biology with support from allied departments, can provide individualized programs in plant sciences that will prepare students for the great variety of careers listed above. Over the past several years we have placed our students in virtually all the types of positions listed. Successful graduates of the SIU plant biology programs have had no problem being admitted into excellent graduate programs at major universities of their choice.