Plant Science
Plant Science - Growing Careers, Feeding the Future

Plant Science

Growing Careers, Feeding the Future

We emphasize high-impact teaching practices to develop an inclusive and highly skilled workforce of Cal Poly Pomona graduates in sustainable produce, agronomic, and tree fruit industries; urban agriculture, controlled environment agriculture; and plant science across the green industries from water resources and irrigation design, arboriculture, golf and sports turf management, to public horticulture and natural resources conservation

Job Openings

Plant Science – Ethnic Studies Affinity, Assistant Professor

Job no: 533325
Work type: Instructional Faculty – Tenured/Tenure-Track
Categories: Unit 3 - CFA - California Faculty Association, Tenured/Tenure-Track, Full Time, Faculty - Agriculture, On-site (work in-person at business location)

Soil Science (Urban Soils and Biogeochemistry), Assistant Professor

Job no: 532743
Work type: Instructional Faculty – Tenured/Tenure-Track
Categories: Unit 3 - CFA - California Faculty Association, Tenured/Tenure-Track, Full Time, Faculty - Agriculture, On-site (work in-person at business location)

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Alumni Student Profiles

Careers in Plant Science

Graduates from the plant science major can look forward to an extremely wide array of career opportunities in California’s growing horticultural, agronomic, and fruit industries. These careers also include many areas that provide support to these industries such as landscape irrigation, water management, soil science and conservation, agricultural biology, entomology, plant biotechnology, postharvest physiology, and environmental protection of water, farmlands, open space, and landscaped areas.

Close-up of plant scientist looking at capsule between fingersWhat careers/jobs can students obtain with a degree in your program?

Farm/Ranch Manger – Oversee farming or ranching operations from small farms to large commercial operations, specialty crops to organic production, ensuring that agricultural activities are carried out efficiently and profitably.
Agronomist/Certified Crop Advisor/California Licensed Pest Control Advisor
Focusing on crop improvement, integrated pest management, and sustainable farming practices.
Arborist – Play a crucial role in the preservation and maintenance of trees, which contribute to environmental health, provide shade and beauty, and enhance public and private property values.
Athletic Turf Manager – Responsible for maintaining sports fields and playing surfaces to ensure they are safe, functional, and visually appealing for schools, universities, professional sports teams, municipalities, or private sports facilities.
Botanical Garden/Arboretum Curator – Responsible for the overall management and preservation of a botanical garden’s living plant collections from different regions and ecosystems.
Conservation Scientist - Focusing on plant conservation and preserving biodiversity.
Ecologist - Studying plant interactions within ecosystems and their impact on the environment.
Educator – Teaching botany and related subjects at schools, colleges, or botanical gardens.
Entomologist – Working to manage and control insect pests that affect crops, providing sustainable solutions for sustainable agriculture.
Environmental Consultant/Regulatory Scientist – Providing expertise and guidance on environmental matters, ensuring compliance with regulations, and promoting environmentally responsible practices.
Forester - Managing forests, promoting sustainable forestry, and conserving natural resources.
Golf Course Assistant/Superintendent – Maintain the course in top condition and ensure a positive playing experience for golfers, play a crucial role in the aesthetics, safety, and environmental sustainability of the golf course.
Greenhouse/Nursery Manager - Work with ornamental and food crops including landscape plants, hydroponic and aquaponic vegetable production, or fresh floral production.
Horticulturist - Working with ornamental plants, landscaping, and gardening.
Irrigation Specialist - Design, install, audit, adjust and repair irrigation systems including residential and commercial landscapes, golf courses, farms, sports fields to conserve water and maintain healthy landscapes.
Plant Pathologist - Investigating plant diseases and developing methods to control them.
Plant Breeder – Specializes in developing new plant varieties with desirable traits such as improved nutrient levels, optimal yields, resistance to insect and disease pests, tolerance to environmental stress and adaptation to changing climate.
Plant Videographer - Many videographers specialize in capturing the details and processes of plant life through techniques such as macro and time-lapse photography. Such footage is often used as stock or documentary footage.
Research Scientist – Conduct experiments and studies to better understand plant biology, genetics, and physiology.
Soil Scientist – Ensuring soil health and quality which impacts agriculture, environmental conservation, and land management.

These careers can be found in various sectors, including academia, government agencies, private industry, and non-profit organizations, depending on the specific focus and interests of the plant scientist. Plant Science graduates also go on to M.S. and Ph.D. graduate studies to become plant science community college or university faculty, industry research and development, government scientists.

Expected salary upon graduation and beyond.

$50,000 - $83,000 upon graduation

$85,000 - $100,000+ 5 and 10 years beyond graduation for managerial, experience years, and graduate school advanced degree(s).

Student involvement

A girl dead-heads begonias
Above: A plant science student dead heads begonias at Agriscapes at Cal Poly Pomona.
  • Los Robles Horticulture Club
  • Turf and Irrigation Club
  • Women in Agriculture Club
  • Collegiate Turf Bowl Competition, Golf Course Superintendents Association of America
  • National Collegiate Landscape Competition
  • Irrigation Association E3 Program – Exposure, Experience & Education for Students
  • California Agricultural Production Consultants Association Annual Conference
  • USDA Natural Resources Conservation District Pathways Internships
  • Urban and Community Agriculture Course-Based Micro-internships
  • Los Angeles Arboretum Internship
  • Signature Retail/Home Depot Nursery Specialist Internship Program
  • Aquaponics and Hydroponic Research Opportunities
  • Research through Inclusive Opportunities (RIO) program
  • Entomology and Plant Pathology Research Opportunities

Student:teacher ratio

Average, 24:1