Difference Between Botanist & Biologist

Curious about the difference between a botanist and a biologist? The main distinction is that biologists investigate and report on living organisms, while a botanist is a type of biologist who specializes in plant life.

Comparing Botanists to Biologists

Biologists and botanists both study the characteristics of wildlife and how it interacts with, and depends on, its environment. The primary difference between these two is that the title biologist covers a wider array of animals and wildlife, while botanists are biologists that focus specifically on plant life. Other similarities and differences are discussed below.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Botanist Bachelor's Degree in Botany; Master's or Doctorate may be required $62,300 (for all soil and plant scientists) 4% (for all wildlife biologists)
Biologist Bachelor's Degree in Biology; Master's or Doctorate may be required $60,520 (for all zoologists and wildlife biologists) 4% (for all wildlife biologists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Botanists vs. Biologists

The day-to-day responsibilities of a biologist vary depending on their position, their industry setting, and their specialization. This could range from being out in nature with wild animals to working in a laboratory setting at a university. While their working environments also vary, botanists specialize in the study of plant biology. Both positions are filled by skilled scientists who are interested in living organisms and their relationship to their environment and other living things.


Botanists study and evaluate every element of plant biology and a plant's relationship to the world. Botanists often take on specific projects regarding plant life, such as restoration, mitigation, and conversation. These scientists may also research potential uses for plants, such as food and medicine. Botanists may work inside laboratories or outside in the field, and may have the opportunity to travel to unique locations around the world. A bachelor's degree in botany is generally the minimum requirement, though a master's or doctorate may be required depending on the position.

Job responsibilities of a botanist include:

  • Investigate rare or endangered plants
  • Observe and classify a wide array of plant life
  • Research how rain, temperature, elevation, and soil affects growth
  • Conduct investigations and prepare reports for government agencies


Biologists generally work for universities, companies, or the government as they research and evaluate living organisms and their relationship and impact on their ecosystems. Most work is done in a lab setting, though assignments such as mapping, surveying, and the collecting of samples may take biologists out into the field. Many biologists work in specialized fields, such as ecology and evolutionary biology. Scientists in these specialties must have excellent communication skills, as they often work closely with team members and will have to write reports. Biologists will need to obtain at least a bachelor's degree in biology, though the majority have achieved a more advanced degree.

Job responsibilities of a biologist include:

  • Work with companies to assist in their industrial plans
  • Write reports for various government agencies
  • Investigate the use of land and water's effect on the environment
  • Write articles and give presentations based on recent findings

Related Careers

Those interested in the science of living things have other career options available. A zoologist is very similar to a biologist except they focus primarily on animals. Those with an interest in plants may enjoy becoming a plant breeding technician, a role that combines elements of botany and agriculture.

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