What does a microbiologist do?
Microbiologists study many different microorganisms including algae, bacteria, fungi, viruses, yeasts, and many others. They also study proteins, cellular tissue, and biological medicine. They usually isolate cultures to identify the characteristics and observe chemical reactions and responses to stimuli. Microbiologists typically work in laboratories and study the structure and functions of microorganisms. They also collect samples of air, water, and soil. Many develop research methods and carry out experiments to understand the life processes microscopic organisms. They aid in the development of new medications, vaccines, agricultural products, and biofuels. Some microbiologists specialize in the study of one type of microorganism. Others work in the public health field to address issues such as pollution, food poisoning, and outbreaks of epidemics. Microbiologists often use a variety of complex equipment such as electronic sterilizers, electron microscopes, cell sorters, and spectrometers. They also prepare reports to present their research findings.
What kind of training does a microbiologist need?
Microbiologists need at least a bachelor degree in microbiology, but most positions require a master or doctorate degree. Most microbiology degree programs provide intensive classroom instruction and laboratory experience. Most aspiring microbiologists complete internships or obtain part time positions in laboratories to gain practical experience in the field while completing their education. Many microbiologists also select an area of specialty such as food microbiology, agricultural microbiology, industrial microbiology, environmental biology, immunology, and virology. Microbiologists must stay up to date on the current advancements in the field and often complete continuing education throughout their careers.
What are the prospects for a career as a microbiologist?
Employment of microbiologists is expected to grow about as fast as average for all professions, increasing 11% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The increase in awareness of preserving the environment and developing cures for diseases will drive job growth.
Job prospects are expected to be good with strong competition for research positions. Microbiologists with specializations and extensive experience will have the best job opportunities.
How much do microbiologists make?
As of November 2009, the middle 50% of microbiologists earn annual salaries between $38,236 and $45,348. The top 10% earn annual salaries of more than $49,433 (2).
A career as a microbiologist is a great choice for individuals with a strong interest in microbiology. Microbiologists must have a solid understanding of a variety of microscopic organisms and research methods. Patience, determination, self-motivation, and perseverance are desirable characteristics. Microbiologists must be able to conduct research and experiments that have long processes and take a long time to complete and provide results. They must have excellent oral and written communication and be able to effectively work independently as well as part of a team.