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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
  • $67,550

    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.


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.


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.


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.


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 jobs

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Microbiologist Career Paths

Quality Assurance Manager Senior Manager Internal Auditor
Compliance Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Quality Assurance Specialist Analyst Chemist
Laboratory Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Microbiology Laboratory Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Scientist Senior Scientist
Principal Scientist
12 Yearsyrs
Scientist Project Manager Product Manager
Purchasing Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Laboratory Supervisor Operations Manager Business Analyst
Quality Assurance Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Quality Assurance Manager Production Manager Construction Manager
Quality Control Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Laboratory Supervisor Laboratory Manager Quality Assurance Manager
Quality Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Quality Assurance Specialist Quality Assurance Manager
Quality Program Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Quality Assurance Quality Assurance Lead Quality Assurance Manager
Regulatory Affairs Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Associate Scientist Senior Scientist
Research And Development Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Quality Assurance Engineer Research And Development Engineer
Research And Development Project Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Laboratory Manager Project Manager Product Manager
Research And Development Technician
6 Yearsyrs
Quality Control Laboratory Manager Research Scientist
Research Laboratory Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Quality Control Senior Chemist Scientist
Senior Associate Scientist
7 Yearsyrs
Chemist Analytical Chemist
Senior Chemist
7 Yearsyrs
Research Scientist Research And Development Scientist Research And Development Manager
Senior Manager Of Research And Development
12 Yearsyrs
Laboratory Manager Quality Assurance Manager
Senior Quality Assurance Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Associate Scientist Scientist Research Scientist
Senior Research Associate
6 Yearsyrs
Chemist Scientist
Senior Scientist
9 Yearsyrs
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Microbiologist Demographics


  • Female

  • Male

  • Unknown



  • White

  • Asian

  • Hispanic or Latino

  • Unknown

  • Black or African American

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Languages Spoken

  • Spanish

  • French

  • Arabic

  • Hindi

  • Russian

  • Gujarati

  • Portuguese

  • Chinese

  • Polish

  • Vietnamese

  • Tamil

  • German

  • Japanese

  • Cantonese

  • Mandarin

  • Cherokee

  • Romanian

  • Hmong

  • Bulgarian

  • Ukrainian

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Microbiologist Education


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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 -
Microbiologists Algenol Biofuels Inc. Fort Myers, FL Jun 05, 2014 $87,975 -
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 -
Microbiologist University of Chicago Medical Center Chicago, IL Jun 15, 2016 $55,106
Microbiologist New River Medical Group, LLC Fort Lauderdale, FL Apr 17, 2013 $55,000
Corporate Microbiologist Sabra Dipping Company LLC Colonial Heights, VA Oct 09, 2016 $55,000 -
Microbiologist The Pathology Laboratory, APMC Fort Lauderdale, FL Oct 01, 2015 $55,000
Microbiologist New River Medical Group, LLC Fort Lauderdale, FL Apr 04, 2013 $55,000
Microbiologists International Stem Cell Corporation Oceanside, CA Sep 23, 2014 $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


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Top Microbiologist Skills

  1. Lab Equipment
  2. Microbiology Lab
  3. Test Methods
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Maintained lab equipment such as pipettes, incubators and thermometers, by doing monthly and annual preventive maintenance.
  • Perform QC microbiology laboratory testing including MLT, microorganism ID, and water testing.
  • Compare and analyze different test methods for validate and accuracy.
  • Maintain inventory of supplies used for laboratory procedures and conduct all ordering for the bacteriology laboratory.
  • Conducted advanced microbiological testing on raw materials and finished product to ensure safety/quality.

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