Difference Between Botanist & Herbalist

Botanists and herbalists know a thing or two about plants. This article shows a comparison between these two plant-based careers as well as the major differences in their goals.

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Comparing Botanists to Herbalists

Botanists, simply put, are plant scientists. They study the life of plants. An herbalist is a healer who uses plants and other natural substances to enhance wellness and treat illnesses. Check below to find a comparison of these two plant-centered careers and find some financial information as well.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2017)* Job Growth (2014-2024)**
Botanist Bachelor's Degree $49,458 4% (zoologists and wildlife biologists)
Herbalist Postsecondary Nondegree Award $39,305 14% (healthcare practitioners and technical workers, all other)

Sources: *, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Botanists vs. Herbalists

Botanists and herbalists have an obvious interest in plants and what they do. Both professions stress what makes each plant unique. Botanists, however, look to plants to understand their functions, their relationship to the environment, and the effect of other living organisms on them. Herbalists, who have been around for eons, also have a fascination with plants to create poultices for injuries, broths for illnesses and ointments to be used topically for different problems.


Botanists are first and foremost scientists. They study everything about plants to better understand where they came from to what their purpose might be. Botanists will study the smallest of bacteria to giant sequoias to discover what makes them what they are. These scientists will travel almost anywhere in the hopes of discovering new plants, algae or fungi. Often botanists study the effects of things like climate change and pollution on plants. They could even look at the changes in plant life when an ecosystem is altered due to various reasons. Botany study has proven helpful in such areas as medicine, crop supply, forest management and rangeland usage.

Job responsibilities of a botanist include:

  • Working with other scientists in ecostudies
  • Investigating specific botanical populations
  • Preparing reports and analyses
  • Presenting information to various groups


Herbal medicine has been around, worldwide, for thousands of years. Herbalists in western civilizations are often considered a part of the alternative medicine crowd, somewhat like chiropractors. Herbalists use the seeds, roots, berries, leaves, bark and any other parts of a plant to create a variety of healing products. Although many European countries are starting to regulate herbal medicine, the United States does not make sure these natural herbs are safe in all combinations. Today, however, many herbalists are licensed, which may help to guarantee clients that these natural supplements are safe and have no adverse effects when used properly.

Job responsibilities of an herbalist include:

  • Consulting with other medical professionals
  • Practicing holistic medicine
  • Creating oral and topical herbal supplements
  • Marketing the product or service

Related Careers

Those interested in the study of plants as botanists may also consider becoming microbiologists and studying the tiniest of bacteria, fungi, viruses or parasites. Herbalists, whose study is in natural medicine, might consider chiropractic work to aid healing through the manipulation of the spine.

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