Difference Between Botanist & Horticulturist

Although they both work with growing things, the professions of botanist and horticulturist require different educational backgrounds and involve distinct job duties. We'll help you look at degree requirements, job outlook, salary, and daily duties of these two positions.

Comparing Botanists to Horticulturists

While botanists may spend time in exotic places, discovering new and rare species of plants, horticulturists often spend their days working in greenhouses or in yards. Horticulturists could have a knowledge of plants that is similar to botanists, but their job is to offer beautiful landscapes and flowers for households. On the other hand, botanists work with plants to develop better foods and medicines.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2017)* Job Growth (2014-2024)**
Botanist Bachelor's Degree $49,458 5% - 8% (soil and plant scientists)
Horticulturist No Formal Education Required $39,692 6% (grounds maintenance workers)

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

Responsibilities of Botanists vs. Horticulturists

Though both must not be afraid of getting their hands dirty, there are many differences between botanists and horticulturists. Botanists may spend months conducting field research to see how plants are affected by human interaction (pollution, irrigation, run-off, etc.) and nature (climate or elevation). Horticulturists maintain landscapes for the beautification of cities and suburbs, or they may even care for plants at greenhouses and nurseries. Botanists work to further the education of people on the benefits of plants and the need to preserve their ecosystems, while horticulturists can provide homeowners with knowledge on the best soils and treatments to care for their lawn and gardens.


Plants and soil are in the realm of botanists. Often focusing on one type of plant, whether algae growing in water or evergreen trees in forests, botanists discover and inventory flora. This requires working in the field, but they also conduct studies in laboratories. Often working for government agencies, they strive to ensure the National Environment Policy Act is closely followed.

Job responsibilities of a botanist include:

  • Track and locate endangered or new species of plants
  • Work towards restoring and conserving botanical habitats, such as rainforests
  • Follow and document agricultural crop productivity
  • Review essays and other documents for information about the ways rainfall and soil affect plants


Working in landscaping or nurseries, horticulturists are responsible for growing and monitoring plants. They work either outside or in greenhouses, carefully identifying and caring for a variety of plants and flowers. When landscaping, they may have to work with chemicals and large lawn care equipment. They also use chemicals and fertilizers to help plants and grasses flourish. Many are trained on the job, as being hands-on is necessary in this field.

Job responsibilities of a horticulturist include:

  • Create flower arrangements or build large, outdoor arrangements of shrubs and bushes
  • Mow and water lawns for various business and residential clients
  • Plant trees and lay grass seed
  • Weed and trim flowers, shrubs, and lawns

Related Careers

If you're interested in becoming a botanist, you may also want to check out a career as a conservation scientist, because both of these careers attempt to maintain natural habitats and optimum plant growth. If you're looking into a career as a horticulturist, you may want to research jobs as a florist, as these careers both require knowledge of plants and an appreciation for their beauty.

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