Plant Pathologist: Job Description, Duties, Salary and Outlook

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a plant pathologist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties, job growth projections and salary expectations to find out if this is the career for you.

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A plant pathologist works in laboratories and in the field where they study conditions that can influence plant health. Soil and plant scientists, which can include plant pathologists, make nearly $60,050 annually. An average 7% job growth is expected through 2024.

Essential Information

Plant pathologists study plants through basic and applied research. Their studies include environmental factors, plant diseases, and nutrition. They work in a variety of fields from consulting to academia, with the general aim of improving plant health. Their work may be conducted in labs or outside, in the plants' natural habitats.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in a relevant field of study
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 7% for soil and plant scientists
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $60,050 for soil and plant scientists

Sources: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Job Description for Plant Pathologists

Afflicted with such pathogens as bacteria, viruses, and protozoa, plants contract diseases that plant pathologists work to uncover and ultimately, cure. Plant pathologists continually develop ways to combat the diseases that plants face. They research plants from top to bottom, including their growing environment, such as the weather and soil around them. Plant pathologists might change a plant's surroundings or genetics in order to allow a plant to thrive, grow, and remain disease-free.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Plant Molecular Biology
  • Plant Pathology
  • Plant Physiology

Plant Pathologist Job Duties

Plant pathologists work in laboratories with technologically advanced equipment and scientific devices such as microscopes. From microorganisms to molecules, plants get scrutinized and analyzed. Outside of the lab, plant pathologists study their subjects in natural environments with instruments that trap spores, as all factors must be studied in attempting to enhance a plant's health.

They commonly work with plant breeders, farmers, entomologists, and botanists in the farms and gardens where plants grow. Additionally, plant pathologists engage with biological scientists and engineers to create safer living arrangements to allow plants to reach their maximum growth and yield potential.

Salary Information for Plant Pathologists

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), soil and plant scientists in general earned a median annual salary of $60,050 in May 2015. BLS figures indicated most of these professionals earned between $35,770 and $105,390 annually that year.

Plant Pathologist Career Outlook

Plant pathologists may be employed in many industries, including academic institutions, non-profit organizations, private consulting firms and government agencies. They can work as teachers, researchers, plant specialists and plant health managers. According to the BLS, soil and plant scientists could expect a 7% job growth rate from 2014 to 2024, which is about average.

Conducting experiments and studying plants is the job of a plant pathologist. They can work in several industries, typically with a team of agricultural and plant experts, to reduce and eliminate plant disease. Steady job growth is projected in this field, and the median salary was around $60,000 in 2015.

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