How Do I Become a Plant Physiologist?

N. Madison

A plant physiologist studies the structure and function of plants and applies his knowledge to solving problems. You will usually need a science degree to become a plant physiologist — many people seek degrees in botany in preparation for this career and then go on to earn graduate degrees in plant physiology. After completing such a degree program, you might opt to participate in an internship in an effort to gain hands-on experience you can use in this job.

A plant growing.
A plant growing.

A science degree is usually required when you want to become a plant physiologist. For example, to land this type of job, you will likely need at least a bachelor's degree in a field such as botany, which is the study of plant life. You may also benefit from a strong background in chemistry when you want to pursue this career, so taking college chemistry courses might help you prepare for working in this field. When you are choosing the degree program you want to pursue, however, it is important to keep in mind that a bachelor's degree might only prepare you for an entry-level job; to have more opportunities, you may do well to earn a master's or doctoral degree instead.

A plant physiologist studies the biological processes of plants.
A plant physiologist studies the biological processes of plants.

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Your educational program will likely include many different courses as you work toward becoming a plant physiologist. The topics such a program usually covers includes plant diversity and function, plant populations, evolution, and the environment. You may also study plant physiology, structure, genetics, and ecology as part of this type of program. If you choose to enroll in a master's degree program in plant physiology, you will likely gain more in-depth knowledge of plants by continuing your study of subjects such as plant growth, reproduction, and nutrition as well as photosynthesis. You might also take molecular and cellular biology courses as you prepare to become a plant physiologist.

Some careers in this field will require you to earn a doctoral degree, and these jobs sometimes translate into the most responsibility and the highest pay. To earn a doctoral degree in plant physiology, you will likely take a range of plant physiology classes as well as some courses in cellular and molecular biology. You might also study various subjects related to plant structure as well as diseases that affect plant life. Metabolism, plant biology, and deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) studies may be part of your program as well.

Internship opportunities may prove helpful when you want to become a plant physiologist. By participating in an internship, you can work with experienced, skilled plant physiologists on projects that provide hands-on experience that will complement your classroom learning. Participating in an internship may serve you in a couple of important ways. For starters, it can help you build skills and knowledge critical for succeeding in this career. Second, an internship also provides experience you can list on your resume, which may help you land the job you want.

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