Microbiologists essential career information:
- 2012 median pay: $65,260
- 2012, number of jobs: 18,550
- Employment growth forecast, 2010-2020: 13 percent
- Entry level education requirements: Bachelor’s degree
Microbiologists; what they do:
Microbiologists make major scientific discoveries based on the smallest of microbes, giving new light to the saying “big things come in small packages.” Microbiologists investigate the structure, growth and development of microorganisms such as bacteria and algae.
A microbiology career appeals to people interested in microorganisms, intensive laboratory work, mathematics and biology.
Microbiologist careers involve different types of intricate research and laboratory study such as developing new drugs to fight major infectious diseases, monitoring the effects microorganisms have on the environment, organizing microorganisms and bacterial cultures for different studies, as well as pinpointing and classifying microorganisms found in humans, water and other sources.
Microbiologist careers involve reviewing current scientific journals and attending conferences as well as presenting research findings to colleagues and other scientists.
Technological and laboratory equipment also play a major role in a microbiology career. Microbiologists use different types of equipment and specialized software to collect and research microorganisms from powerful electron microscopes to electrophoresis units.
Microbiologists work with other scientific teams such as technicians, biochemists and other scientists.
Microbiologists job titles:
- Medical Microbiologist
- Microbiological Analyst
- Clinical Laboratory Scientist
- Public Health Microbiologist
- Food Microbiologist
- Clinical Microbiologists
- Veterinary Microbiologists
- Environmental Microbiologists
Microbiologists Education, Certification and License Requirements
People typically need a Bachelor in microbiology degree or a closely related degree to begin a microbiologist career.
Classes in microbial physiology are important to take as an undergraduate to understand the more complex studies in virology. Other courses such as statistics and computer science are also extremely beneficial for advanced laboratory work and data analysis.
Laboratory internships during college play a large role in helping microbiologists attain employment in areas such pharmaceutical research after graduation.
For more intensive research positions most universities and institutions require a Ph.D. It can take up to 6 years for a student to attain a doctoral degree in microbiology. Upon completion, postdoctoral students attain research positions where they develop a greater understanding of their specialized field as well as publish research findings.
Microbiologists with faculty positions at universities and colleges need to publish materials.
Microbiologist programs cover subjects such as:
- Microbial physiology
- Genome biology
- Microbial genetics
- Environmental microbiology
- Biology of pollution
- Microbial ecology
Career Advancement Opportunities
For advanced microbiologist career opportunities, microbiologists can attain a Ph.D. to conduct advanced research and laboratory work for publications and presentations. A doctoral degree and published research are necessary to hold most university and faculty positions.
Microbiologists Job Outlook
Forecast: 13 percent employment growth for microbiologists between 2010 and 2020, about as fast as average. The occupational growth stems from the demand for microbiologists in pharmaceutical and biotechnology jobs to develop new medications and vaccines to fight difficult strains of infectious diseases.
The best areas for microbiology career opportunities include areas such as agriculture, biotechnology and environmental preservation. In agriculture, microbiologists help genetically modify crops, greatly reduce the need for pesticides. In biotechnology, they research and develop alternative energy sources such as biofuels.
- 2012 median annual wage: $65,260
- 2012 workers at the 75th percentile annual wage: $92,730
- 2012, workers at the 25th percentile annual wage: $48,900
Microbiologists Major Employers
- Research and development in physical, engineering and life sciences
- Federal and state government
- Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing
- Colleges, universities and professional schools