Botanist Certification helps ensure that the most qualified people conduct California’s environmental reviews and that our decision-makers have the information they need to make sound land-use decisions.
Target Audience: Professional field and consulting botanists
The Field Botanist is competent in identifying native and naturalized plants found in California, and is able to use appropriate field survey methods and protocols that satisfy documentation and assessment requirements. They can identify the dominant and characteristic plants that compose the California flora and know how to identify those native and naturalized species that they may not be able to identify on sight. They have a good grasp of botanical terminology and know how to conduct field surveys and map plant occurrences and populations that are necessary for laboratory analyses and/or impact assessments. They can also monitor plant populations during and after construction, and perform monitoring of mitigation implementation (during and afterwards). The Certified Field Botanist knows how to characterize the botanical resources of a site and record their findings.
The Certified Consulting Botanist has satisfied all requirements of a Field Botanist, as well as demonstrated competence in document preparation, such as: describing baseline conditions of a study/project area, critically analyzing project-related impacts to botanical resources, developing feasible mitigation measures to avoid or compensate for identified impacts, and demonstrating a clear understanding of environmental laws and regulations pertaining to plants. They know how to research environmental policies and regulations that apply to a variety of projects and how to document the existing conditions of a project site or study area. The Certified Consulting Botanist knows how to assess project-related impacts to the botanical resources of the site and whether those impacts are considered signification pursuant to environmental regulations, whether they be federal, state, or local. They also can develop feasible mitigation measures to reduce any significant impacts to less-than-significant levels, and are adept at assisting clients through the environmental permitting process, at least as far as the botanical resources are concerned.
Learn how to prepare for the exam here with our study guide and plant list.
Schedule & Locale
Exam Schedule: October 19, 2022
Meet at the DoubleTree by Hilton
8:15 – 8:30 am
Registration/Sign-in – Rules for taking exams
8:30 – 10:00 am
EXAM 1 – Sight Identification of 100 Plants
Genus 1 point
Species 1 point (or if to Genus only, then 2 points)
Correct spelling not required, but must be reasonably recognizable, old names OK
Some Genus only, limited to 20% (20 taxa)
Subset can include photographs and/or pressed specimens (20%)
10:00 – 10:15 am
10:15 am – 12:15 pm
EXAM 2 – Identification by Keying
5 plants will be provided that must be identified using dichotomous keys from The Jepson Manual. Bring a headlamp to ensure sufficient lighting. Basic dissecting scopes will be provided.
12:15 – 1:15 pm
Lunch (Please bring your own packed lunch and water)
1:15 – 2:45 pm
EXAM 3 – Field Botanist – 100 Multiple Choice/True-False questions – no test aides allowed
2:45 – 3:00 pm
Break, those taking just the Certified Field Botanist Exam are dismissed
3:00 – 5:00 pm
EXAM 4 – Consulting Botanist – 200 Multiple Choice/True-False questions
The exam will be held at the DoubleTree by Hilton located at 2050 Gateway Pl, San Jose, CA 95110
Materials & Requirements
- Clipboard, pen/pencil
- Headlamp, 10X hand lens, Metric ruler, Jepson Manual (2nd Ed)
- Dissecting tools (probe, tweezers, razor blade)
- Plenty of water, lunch and snacks
Notes: Passing score for each exam is 75%. Applicant must achieve a passing score on each exam in order to become certified. Failure to pass any one part is considered a failure to become eligible for certification.
After scores and test questions are analyzed, test results will be sent to each registrant, pass/fail, with test scores provided. Those passing will be requested to submit their annual maintenance fee and a signed copy of the Code of Ethics, after which they will be presented a certificate and certification number.
Physical Requirements: Participants will be primarily standing for the first exam. Please let David Magney, firstname.lastname@example.org, know if you need accommodations.
Before registering, please review our full exam cancellation policy, participant expectations, and COVID precaution requirements below. The last day to cancel your registration for this exam and receive any refund (less the cancellation fee) is October 5, 2022. For other ways to register, please see our full registration & payment policy.
All exam participants need to be fully vaccinated and provide proof of vaccination at the time of check-in. If a participant is unvaccinated due to a valid medical reason, we accept a negative COVID-19 test result that is within three days of the exam start date. We are closely monitoring COVID-19 state and CDC guidelines. We will be enforcing all recommended guidelines, including mask wearing, social distancing and other protocols. As COVID-19 variants continue to spread, there may be a possibility that we must cancel an exam. By registering for a exam, you agree to abide by all safety guidelines and protocols; you also acknowledge that an exam may need to be canceled due to developments related to COVID-19. If CNPS cancels an exam, your registration fee will be fully refunded. Our top priority is your safety and security, as well as those of participants and CNPS staff.