Career Information for a Botanist
Do you enjoy working outdoors? Are you concerned about
plants and plant diversity? If so, a job as a botanist
with the Forest Service may be for you !
The Work Environment
As a Forest Service botanist you will have the important
responsibility of caring for plants and plant communities
on portions of the 19 1 million acres of national forests
and grasslands. Other resource specialists will depend
on you to advise them about plants and their habitats.
You may be assigned to some of the most scenic places
in the Nation-- places managed not only for their natural
resources, but for their natural beauty as well. Botanists
work in a variety of conditions, climates, and terrain.
Operating on the Job
Your duties as a Forest Service botanist will include
working on teams with other resource specialists to
conserve and manage plant resources on national forests
and grasslands. You will evaluate the biological implications
of various construction, logging, or other projects
and develop conservation strategies to maintain threatened,
endangered, and sensitive plants. You will manage and
conserve plant biodiversity through a variety of programs
such as Air Quality, Fuels Management, Lands, Minerals,
Range, Recreation, Timber and Watershed.
Forest Service botanists work closely with other agencies,
public interest groups, and members of the community
to conserve plant resources. Plant conservation ranges
from controlling non-native species and noxious weeds
to protecting threatened and endangered species. Forest
Service botanists also contribute their skills to a
variety of activities including lichen monitoring for
air quality, identifying native plant species for watershed
restoration projects, and developing nature trails.
As a Forest Service botanist, you will continually learn
about plants and plant communities found on National
Forest System lands. This knowledge is vital to managing
plants for the overall health of forest and grassland
ecosystems. At times you will work alone outdoors. At
other times, you will be teaching others about plants.
But, at all times, you will be a part of a team--an
interdisciplinary approach to managing national forests
and grasslands. Being a botanist in the Forest Service
is challenging, varied, and satisfying. The Forest Service
works hard to provide botanists with the up-to-date
training and experiences they need to give the support
that is vital to our operations.
Career Paths and Requirements
Botanists are hired at many different grade levels.
Recent college graduates may be hired at the GS-5 or-
GS-7 grade level. They spend up to 2 years in training
and developmental positions, and then may be noncompetitively
promoted to the GS-9 grade level. You may also be hired
initially for higher grade level positions if you meet
higher education and/or experience requirements. Promotion
opportunities at GS-11 and above are competitive, but
opportunities are good: about 48 percent of botanists
are at the GS-11 grade level or above.
To be a botanist with the Forest Service you must have
a bachelor's degree with a major in biological science
and complete the following course work at least 74 semester-hours
in botany. Courses can include, but are not limited
to, plant anatomy or morphology, genetics, taxonomy
or systematic botany, plant ecology, and mycology.
In addition to meeting the minimum bachelor's degree
requirements described above, you need the following
kinds of education and/or experience for appointments
- The GS-7 level requires a full year
of graduate-level education or superior academic achievement
or one year of experience equivalent to the GS-5 level.
- The GS-9 level requires 2 full years
of progressively higher level education or a master's
or equivalent degree or 1 year of experience equivalent
to the GS-7 level.
- The GS- 11 level requires 3 full years
of progressively higher level graduate education or
a Ph.D. or equivalent graduate degree or 1 year of
experience equivalent to the GS-9 level.
In lieu of the above requirements, a combination of
education and experience may qualify you for the position.