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Become A Virologist

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Working As A Virologist

  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Analyzing Data or Information
  • Getting Information
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • $67,550

    Average Salary

Example Of What A Virologist does

  • Major Achievement: Responsible for getting 22 Virus and 6 Cell lines validated by FDA for vaccine production.
  • Cultured, identified and determined potency of measles, mumps, rubella and varicella vaccine.
  • Performed RNA/DNA extraction for viral load of EBV and CMV assays on clinical specimens.
  • Performed ELISA, ELISPOT and SDS-PAGE/Western Blots.
  • Developed an externally funded research program to investigate the influenza NS1 protein in viral pathogenesis (grant based).
  • Designed constructs, performed DNA cloning, DNA/RNA extraction and quantification via UV spectrophotometry.
  • Trypsinized animal tissue, pass and maintained cell cultures.
  • Performed Real-Time PCR detection for Chlamydia/GC, Influenza A, B, RSV and Clostridium difficile on clinical specimens.

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How To Become A Virologist

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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Virologist Demographics


  • Female

  • Male

  • Unknown



  • White

  • Asian

  • Hispanic or Latino

  • Unknown

  • Black or African American

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Languages Spoken

  • Greek

  • French

  • Ukrainian



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Virologist Education


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Top Skills for A Virologist


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Top Virologist Skills

  1. Bacteria Viruses
  2. Human Immunodeficiency Virus
  3. Lab Notebook
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Trypsinized animal tissue, pass and maintained cell cultures.
  • Established surge capacity to accommodate the 50% demand increase in late 2009 and 2010 due to the influenza pandemic.
  • Designed constructs, performed DNA cloning, DNA/RNA extraction and quantification via UV spectrophotometry.
  • Performed RNA/DNA extraction for viral load of EBV and CMV assays on clinical specimens.
  • Performed human ELISPOT and epitope mapping assays in support of clinical HIV vaccine studies.

Top Virologist Employers

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