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Become A Microbiologist

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Working As A Microbiologist

  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Analyzing Data or Information
  • Getting Information
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • $73,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Microbiologist Do

Microbiologists study microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, algae, fungi, and some types of parasites. They try to understand how these organisms live, grow, and interact with their environments.

Duties

Microbiologists typically do the following:

  • Plan and conduct complex research projects, such as improving sterilization procedures or developing new drugs to combat infectious diseases
  • Perform laboratory services that are used in the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses
  • Supervise the work of biological technicians and other workers and evaluate the accuracy of their results
  • Isolate and maintain cultures of bacteria or other microorganisms for study
  • Identify and classify microorganisms found in specimens collected from humans, plants, animals, or the environment
  • Monitor the effect of microorganisms on plants, animals, other microorganisms, or the environment
  • Keep up with current knowledge by reviewing the findings of other researchers and by attending conferences
  • Prepare technical reports, publish research papers, and make recommendations based on their research findings
  • Present research findings to scientists, nonscientist executives, engineers, other colleagues, and the public

Many microbiologists work in research and development conducting basic research or applied research. The aim of basic research is to increase scientific knowledge. An example is growing strains of bacteria in various conditions to learn how they react to those conditions. Other microbiologists conduct applied research and develop new products to solve particular problems. For example, microbiologists may develop genetically engineered crops, better biofuels, or new vaccines.

Microbiologists use computers and a wide variety of sophisticated laboratory instruments to do their experiments. Electron microscopes are used to study bacteria, and advanced computer software is used to analyze the growth of microorganisms found in samples.

It is increasingly common for microbiologists to work on teams with technicians and scientists in other fields, because many scientific research projects involve multiple disciplines. Microbiologists may work with medical scientists or biochemists while researching new drugs, or they may work in medical diagnostic laboratories alongside physicians and nurses to help prevent, treat, and cure diseases. For more information, see the profiles on biochemists and biophysicists, physicians and surgeons, and registered nurses.

The following are examples of types of microbiologists:

Bacteriologists study the growth, development, and other properties of bacteria, including the positive and negative effects that bacteria have on plants, animals, and humans.

Clinical microbiologists perform a wide range of clinical laboratory tests on specimens collected from plants, humans, and animals to aid in detection of disease. Clinical and medical microbiologists whose work involves directly researching human health may be classified as medical scientists.

Environmental microbiologists study the ways in which microorganisms interact with the environment. They may study the use of microbes to clean up areas contaminated by heavy metals or study how microbes could aid crop growth.

Industrial microbiologists study and solve problems related to industrial production processes. They may examine microbial growth found in the pipes of a chemical factory, monitor the impact industrial waste has on the local ecosystem, or oversee the microbial activities used in cheese production to ensure quality.

Mycologists study the properties of fungi such as yeast and mold, as well as the ways fungi can be used (for example, in food or the environment) to benefit society.

Parasitologists study the life cycle of parasites, the parasite-host relationship, and how parasites adapt to different environments. They may investigate the outbreak and control of parasitic diseases such as malaria.

Public health microbiologists examine specimens in order to track, control, and prevent communicable diseases and other health hazards. They typically provide laboratory services for local health departments and community health programs.

Virologists study the structure, development, and other properties of viruses and any effects viruses have on infected organisms.

Many people with a microbiology background become high school teachers or postsecondary teachers.

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How To Become A Microbiologist

A bachelor’s degree in microbiology or a closely related field is needed for entry-level microbiologist jobs. A Ph.D. is needed to carry out independent research and to work in universities.

Education

Microbiologists need at least a bachelor’s degree in microbiology or a closely related field such as biochemistry or cell biology. Many colleges and universities offer degree programs in biological sciences, including microbiology.

Most microbiology majors take core courses in microbial genetics and microbial physiology and elective classes such as environmental microbiology and virology. Students also must take classes in other sciences, such as biochemistry, chemistry, and physics, because it is important for microbiologists to have a broad understanding of the sciences. Courses in statistics, mathematics, and computer science are important for microbiologists because they must be able to do complex data analysis.

It is important for prospective microbiologists to have laboratory experience before entering the workforce. Most undergraduate microbiology programs include a mandatory laboratory requirement, but additional laboratory coursework is recommended. Students also can gain valuable laboratory experience through internships with prospective employers such as drug manufacturers.

Microbiologists typically need a Ph.D. to carry out independent research and work in colleges and universities. Graduate students studying microbiology commonly specialize in a subfield such as bacteriology or immunology. Ph.D. programs usually include class work, laboratory research, and completing a thesis or dissertation.

Training

Many microbiology Ph.D. holders begin their careers in temporary postdoctoral research positions. During their postdoctoral appointment, they work with experienced scientists as they continue to learn about their specialties and develop a broader understanding of related areas of research.

Postdoctoral positions typically offer the opportunity to publish research findings. A solid record of published research is essential to getting a permanent college or university faculty position.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Microbiologists should be able to effectively communicate their research processes and findings so that knowledge may be applied correctly.

Detail oriented. Microbiologists must be able to conduct scientific experiments and analyses with accuracy and precision.

Interpersonal skills. Microbiologists typically work on research teams and thus must work well with others toward a common goal. Many also lead research teams and must be able to motivate and direct other team members.

Logical-thinking skills. Microbiologists draw conclusions from experimental results through sound reasoning and judgment.

Math skills. Microbiologists regularly use complex mathematical equations and formulas in their work. Therefore, they need a broad understanding of mathematics, including calculus and statistics.

Observation skills. Microbiologists must constantly monitor their experiments. They need to keep a complete, accurate record of their work, noting conditions, procedures, and results.

Perseverance. Microbiological research involves substantial trial and error, and microbiologists must not become discouraged in their work.

Problem-solving skills. Microbiologists use scientific experiments and analysis to find solutions to complex scientific problems.

Time-management skills. Microbiologists usually need to meet deadlines when conducting research and laboratory tests. They must be able to manage time and prioritize tasks efficiently while maintaining their quality of work.

Advancement

Microbiologists typically receive greater responsibility and independence in their work as they gain experience. They also gain greater responsibility through certification and higher education. Ph.D. microbiologists usually lead research teams and control the direction and content of projects.

Some microbiologists move into managerial positions, often as natural sciences managers. Those who pursue management careers spend much of their time on administrative tasks such as preparing budgets and schedules.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Certifications are available for clinical microbiologists and for those who specialize in the fields of food safety and quality and pharmaceuticals and medical devices. They may help workers gain employment in the occupation or advance to new positions of responsibility. Certifications are not mandatory for the majority of work done by microbiologists.

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Microbiologist Career Paths

Microbiologist
Research Associate Scientist
Senior Research Associate
6 Yearsyrs
Research Associate Project Manager Quality Manager
Quality Systems Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Research Associate Laboratory Manager
Laboratory Director
9 Yearsyrs
Chemist Laboratory Manager Quality Assurance Manager
Quality Assurance Director
11 Yearsyrs
Chemist Project Manager Quality Manager
Senior Quality Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Chemist Laboratory Manager Quality Manager
Corporate Quality Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Scientist Senior Scientist
Research And Development Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Scientist Team Leader Production Supervisor
Quality Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Quality Assurance Specialist Quality Assurance Manager
Regulatory Affairs Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Quality Assurance Specialist Quality Assurance Engineer Quality Assurance Manager
Project Quality Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Quality Assurance Specialist Store Manager Food Service Director
Food Safety Director
8 Yearsyrs
Quality Assurance Supervisor Laboratory Supervisor
Clinical Laboratory Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Research Scientist Senior Chemist Laboratory Supervisor
Director Of Laboratory Services
12 Yearsyrs
Research Scientist Senior Laboratory Technician Laboratory Supervisor
Laboratory Manager Of Operations
10 Yearsyrs
Research Scientist Senior Scientist
Chief Scientific Officer
6 Yearsyrs
Consultant Senior Engineer Senior Quality Engineer
Vice-President Of Quality
15 Yearsyrs
Senior Laboratory Technician Senior Technologist Senior Engineering Technician
Engineering Laboratory Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Senior Microbiologist Microbiology Supervisor
Microbiology Laboratory Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Quality Control Chemist Quality Control Scientist
Quality Control Microbiology Supervisor
8 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Microbiologist?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Microbiologist 3.0 years
Top Careers Before Microbiologist
Internship 6.0%
Chemist 3.3%
Volunteer 2.8%
Technician 2.5%
Top Careers After Microbiologist
Scientist 6.3%
Chemist 4.6%
Consultant 3.7%
Supervisor 2.9%

Do you work as a Microbiologist?

Microbiologist Demographics

Gender

Female

54.6%

Male

34.9%

Unknown

10.5%
Ethnicity

White

55.9%

Hispanic or Latino

15.4%

Asian

13.6%

Black or African American

9.8%

Unknown

5.3%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

55.7%

French

10.4%

Hindi

3.8%

Arabic

3.8%

Russian

3.3%

Mandarin

2.7%

Chinese

2.7%

Portuguese

2.2%

Japanese

2.2%

Turkish

1.6%

Gujarati

1.6%

Cantonese

1.6%

Polish

1.6%

Vietnamese

1.1%

Tamil

1.1%

Greek

1.1%

German

1.1%

Urdu

1.1%

Cherokee

0.5%

Romanian

0.5%
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Microbiologist Education

Schools

Ohio State University

10.7%

Michigan State University

7.9%

University of South Florida

5.5%

University of Phoenix

5.3%

University of Florida

5.1%

University of California - Davis

4.9%

Pennsylvania State University

4.7%

Kansas State University

4.5%

University of Puerto Rico - Humacao

4.5%

Texas A&M University

4.5%

Clemson University

4.5%

University of Arizona

4.5%

University of Cincinnati

4.3%

University of Texas at Austin

4.3%

University of Puerto Rico - Mayaguez

4.2%

University of Texas at Arlington

4.2%

North Carolina State University

4.2%

University of Georgia

4.2%

University of Wisconsin Extension

4.0%

University of Tennessee - Knoxville

3.8%
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Majors

Biology

34.3%

Microbiology

24.3%

Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

5.2%

Medical Technician

3.8%

Chemistry

3.6%

Biotechnology

3.5%

Clinical/Medical Laboratory Science

3.4%

Business

3.3%

Food Science

3.3%

Public Health

2.7%

Cell Biology And Anatomical Science

1.8%

Pharmacy

1.5%

Nursing

1.4%

Environmental Science

1.4%

Ecology, Population Biology, And Epidemiology

1.4%

Biomedical Sciences

1.2%

Genetics

1.1%

Health Care Administration

1.1%

Food And Nutrition

1.0%

Management

0.8%
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Degrees

Bachelors

52.0%

Masters

27.0%

Other

8.3%

Doctorate

7.1%

Certificate

2.6%

Associate

2.3%

Diploma

0.6%

License

0.1%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$73,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$36,000
Min 10%
$73,000
Median 50%
$73,000
Median 50%
$73,000
Median 50%
$73,000
Median 50%
$73,000
Median 50%
$73,000
Median 50%
$73,000
Median 50%
$146,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Battelle
Highest Paying City
Fargo, ND
Highest Paying State
North Dakota
Avg Experience Level
3.0 years
How much does a Microbiologist make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Microbiologist in the United States is $73,553 per year or $35 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $36,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $146,000.

Real Microbiologist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Microbiologist CP Bio, Inc. Chino, CA Sep 04, 2014 $120,000
Microbiologist Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/DHHS Atlanta, GA Oct 23, 2016 $118,263
Microbiologists Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/DHHS Atlanta, GA Oct 24, 2013 $111,138
Microbiologists Azbil Biovigilant, Inc. Tucson, AZ Feb 13, 2013 $107,100
Microbiologists Amgen Inc. Thousand Oaks, CA Jun 02, 2014 $100,000
Microbiologist Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/DHHS Atlanta, GA Oct 05, 2014 $97,869
Microbiologist CP Bio Inc. Chino, CA Sep 04, 2013 $96,000
Microbiologist Uchicago Argonne, LLC Lemont, IL Jul 01, 2015 $93,072 -
$172,176
Microbiologists Algenol Biofuels Inc. Fort Myers, FL Jun 05, 2014 $87,975 -
$105,000
Microbiologist Humurine Technologies Inc. Sacramento, CA Feb 21, 2013 $85,000
Microbiologists Humurine Technologies Sacramento, CA Jul 14, 2014 $85,000
Microbiologists Kerry Inc. Beloit, WI Nov 07, 2013 $84,053
Applied Microbiologist Applied Biotech Industries, Inc. Belgium, WI Oct 01, 2013 $84,000
Processing Microbiologist Indigo AG, Inc. Cambridge, MA Sep 15, 2016 $82,800
Microbiologist Kaztronix, LLC Skillman, NJ Nov 30, 2014 $64,480
Microbiologists Pfizer Inc. Kalamazoo, MI Apr 08, 2013 $64,400
Microbiologist Microbiology & Quality Assosciates, Inc. Concord, CA Sep 24, 2014 $64,100
Microbiologist Microbiology & Quality Associates, Inc. Concord, CA Sep 19, 2014 $64,100
Microbiologist Cobb-Vantress, Inc. Siloam Springs, AR Sep 08, 2014 $63,897
Microbiologist/Immunologist Battelle Memorial Institute Atlanta, GA Feb 03, 2014 $63,000
Microbiologist/Immunologist Battelle Memorial Institute Atlanta, GA Sep 23, 2013 $62,280
Microbiologists Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Ridgefield, CT Sep 19, 2014 $61,152 -
$96,921
Microbiologist University of Chicago Medical Center Chicago, IL Jun 15, 2016 $55,106
Post Doctoral-Microbiologist The University of Texas at El Paso El Paso, TX Dec 02, 2014 $55,000
Microbiologist New River Medical Group, LLC Fort Lauderdale, FL Apr 17, 2013 $55,000
Microbiologist New River Medical Group, LLC Fort Lauderdale, FL Apr 04, 2013 $55,000
Corporate Microbiologist Sabra Dipping Company LLC Colonial Heights, VA Oct 09, 2016 $55,000 -
$75,000
Microbiologist The Pathology Laboratory, APMC Fort Lauderdale, FL Oct 01, 2015 $55,000
Microbiologist Mycometrics LLC Monmouth Junction, NJ Aug 29, 2016 $55,000
Microbiologists Mycometrics, LLC. Monmouth Junction, NJ May 26, 2016 $55,000

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Top Skills for A Microbiologist

  1. Lab Equipment
  2. Microbiology
  3. Analytical Methods
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Operated lab equipment to include dissection microscope, dissolved oxygen and conductivity meters.
  • Adhere to quarterly proficiency testing for validation of microbiology laboratory methods through AOAC s Accredited Laboratory Proficiency Testing Program.
  • Developed and tested experimental designs, sampling techniques, and analytical methods.
  • Developed and wrote self-instructional units for Medical Technology students and provided training to Medical Residents in laboratory procedures and infectious diseases.
  • Water analysis, Identification of microbiological flora and testing of raw materials and finished good samples.

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Top 10 Best States for Microbiologists

  1. California
  2. Georgia
  3. Iowa
  4. Massachusetts
  5. Virginia
  6. Rhode Island
  7. District of Columbia
  8. Montana
  9. Wyoming
  10. Nevada
  • (44 jobs)
  • (6 jobs)
  • (5 jobs)
  • (12 jobs)
  • (4 jobs)
  • (1 jobs)
  • (0 jobs)
  • (0 jobs)
  • (1 jobs)
  • (0 jobs)

Top Microbiologist Employers

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Jobs From Top Microbiologist Employers

Microbiologist Videos

Day in the Life - Microbiology / Virology - Prof Bill Rawlinson

CAREERS IN B.Sc MICROBIOLOGY - M.Sc,DEGREE,Job Opportunities,Salary Package

Day in the Life - Microbiology - Dr Sally Roberts

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