What does a Microbiologist do?


What does a Microbiologist do?

Microbiologists investigate the growth, interactions and characteristics of microscopic organisms such as bacteria, algae, fungi, and some types of parasites and their vectors. They try to understand how these organisms live, grow and interact with their environments.

Microorganisms are organisms too small to be visible with the naked eye. They include bacteria, algae, fungi and some types of parasites, and their study is called “microbiology”. If you were to observe microorganisms using a microscope or magnifying glass, you would find that they come in many shapes, sizes and forms. You might even see that some microorganisms have legs while others do not! Microbiologists study observable characteristics of these organisms (such as size) as well as less obvious features such as how they interact with their environments: each other, us humans and larger organisms like plants or animals.

This category of microbiology requires specialized equipment such as microscopes. Fortunately for us non-scientists, there are amazing resources available on YouTube where we can learn more about microbiology by watching videos!

Microbiologists work in a wide range of fields. Some work in basic research to expand knowledge about microscopic organisms. Some work in applied research to solve problems in areas such as human health and the environment. Still others develop products or processes that help prevent or treat diseases, clean up contaminated sites, or prevent pollution.

The work of microbiologists varies widely, depending on their particular interests and the nature of their work. Some microbiologists work in basic research to expand knowledge about microscopic organisms. Others apply this knowledge to develop products or processes that help prevent or treat diseases, clean up contaminated sites, or prevent pollution. For example:

  • Microbiologists who study viruses might develop a vaccine for a specific disease.
  • Microbiologists who study bacteria might develop new ways to treat bacterial infections.
  • Microbiologists who study fungi might find ways to remove toxins from contaminated soil through the use of fungi that ingest toxins as food.

Microbiologists use a variety of techniques in their work. These may include monitoring and controlling microorganisms or products affecting microorganisms in processes, foods or pharmaceuticals; designing experiments using microorganisms; identifying unknown samples with microscopes or other instruments; using computers for calculations, data analysis or simulations; consulting with colleagues about experimental design or interpretation of results; planning courses or educational programs for students; writing grant proposals to obtain funding for research; presenting findings at scientific conferences; reporting results through scientific publications; teaching students microbiology at a university.

  • You may monitor or control microorganisms or products affecting microorganisms in processes, foods or pharmaceuticals.
  • You may design experiments using microorganisms, identify unknown samples with microscopes or other instruments, and use computers for calculations, data analysis, or simulations.
  • You may consult with colleagues about experimental design or interpretation of results.
  • You may plan courses or educational programs for students.
  • You may write grant proposals to obtain funding for research.
  • You may present findings at scientific conferences and report results through scientific publications.
  • You may teach students microbiology at a university

There are many different types of microbiologist who do different things.

There are many different types of microbiologists. Microbiological specialties include medical, food, environmental, industrial, agricultural, water and soil microbiology. Some microbiologists work in the private sector while others work for government agencies or universities.

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The type of microbiologist you become will depend largely on your career goals and interest in the field but also on your academic background. For example, if you are interested in becoming a medical microbiologist you should pursue an advanced degree in either medical or clinical laboratory science or public health.

If you do not want to pursue an advanced degree but still want to be involved with microbes then consider a job as a research scientist where you can work with other scientists in laboratories analyzing samples using high tech equipment such as DNA sequencers and microscopes. A research scientist does not need any further education beyond their bachelor’s degree in biology or chemistry; however some schools offer masters programs which would be beneficial for those looking for employment opportunities within this field!

Microbiologists can also find positions working outside of laboratories such as hospitals hospitals – physicians’ offices etcetera! These individuals may have less knowledge about microbes but more hands-on experience working with patients who require their expertise (this is also known as “clinical” time).

Careers in Microbiology

Microbiology research technician

Research technicians are the scientists who assist microbiologists in conducting research. They perform many of the same duties as microbiologists, such as investigating specimens under a microscope, monitoring experiments and measuring contamination levels, but they do so under the direction of a principal investigator. A bachelor’s degree in either microbiology or biology is required for this position, but there is not much opportunity to advance unless you earn a master’s degree.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that biological technicians made an average annual salary of $43,800 as of May 2018 ( The BLS also noted that employment was expected to grow 4% between 2018 and 2028; however, job prospects will vary based on your location and field of research.

This profession offers numerous employment opportunities in hospitals and other medical facilities, clinics and scientific laboratories at universities and testing facilities.

Bacteriology technician

Bacteriologists are scientists who study bacteria, including their growth and development, how they affect humans and animals, how to use them to produce products like cheese and yogurt, how they cause disease, and how to cure these diseases. Bacteriology technicians assist bacteriologists in conducting tests on bacteria. The tasks assigned to the bacteriology technician depend on the specific job duties of the bacteriologist. One day you may be measuring or counting bacteria; another day you may be analyzing blood samples using computerized equipment; yet another day you may be preparing cultures for laboratory experiments. Generally speaking, your work as a bacteriology technician will involve any number of laboratory tasks that support the work of either medical or research bacteriologists. While many bacteriology technicians work in medical laboratories assisting medical bacteriologists, other jobs may include working alongside research scientists in government or private sector laboratories studying food safety or national security issues related to bacterial organisms.

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Clinical laboratory microbiologist

Another versatile career that a microbiology degree opens you up to is being a clinical laboratory microbiologist. Clinical laboratory microbiologists are medical doctors who specialize in the study of microorganisms and parasites within the body. They use their scientific knowledge about microscopic organisms to identify problems in the body, as well as their medical knowledge regarding bodily functions and anatomical systems.

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Diagnostic clinical microbiologist

A diagnostic clinical microbiologist is a scientist who tests samples of tissue or bodily fluids for the presence of bacteria or other microorganisms. The bacteria, which can be present in a number of places including hospital patients’ noses, must first be grown and isolated from the other microorganisms present. Diagnostic clinical microbiologists then test to determine whether any of the bacteria are harmful. Compare to research microbiologists and medical microbiologists, diagnostic clinical microbiologists do not need a PhD degree, but instead receive training through their employer.

Medical microbiologist

Many medical microbiologists are employed in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities. Their work concentrates on the study of viruses and bacteria that cause diseases. Some medical microbiologists may be infectious disease doctors; some may have earned a doctorate degree or work as researchers. Others work with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or in public health.


A virologist is a type of microbiologist that studies viruses and how they impact human health. A virologist must have knowledge of laboratory equipment and techniques so they can isolate and identify viruses as well as study their structure, function, and effects on the body. Virologists also test the effects of drugs and vaccines against viruses.

If you are interested in becoming a virologist, you will need to complete a four-year bachelors degree in microbiology or immunology followed by a Ph.D program in virology or related field. You may also go into medical school after completing the Ph.D for work as an infectious disease specialist or obtain training in pathology to become a clinical pathologist.

Careers in microbiology are vast, with many options to choose from.

Microbiology is a huge field with many different specializations. Microbiologists work in many areas and have career paths ranging from research to working in the field. You can work in a private lab, or you can apply your skills in the health industry. Now that you’ve learned about microbiology, it’s time to learn how to become a microbiologist.

Microbiologists who work in research and development usually have a doctorate in microbiology.

Microbiologists who work in research and development usually have a doctorate in microbiology. A doctorate is the minimum requirement to work in research, and a master’s degree is acceptable for applied science positions. Typically, it takes four to five years to complete a doctoral program. Doctoral programs are expensive, and most students rely on fellowships or grants from the university, funding agencies or private organizations to pay their tuition and living expenses. Students typically spend their first year taking classes and working on preliminary research projects with advisers until they find an area of specialization that interests them. In addition to coursework, students must also complete a thesis project based on original research conducted in the laboratory of one of their faculty advisers. After completing the thesis project, students must defend it orally before a panel of experts called a dissertation committee before they receive their degrees.

The typical entry-level education needed to become a medical scientist is a bachelor’s degree, typically in biology or a related life science, although some jobs require a master’s degree or Ph.D.

While a bachelor’s degree is the most common level of education for microbiologists, some entry-level jobs may require a master’s degree. In addition, many research positions require candidates to hold a Ph.D., according to the BLS. If you’re interested in becoming a microbiologist, you should focus your studies on chemistry, biology and mathematics. Make sure you take laboratory courses that enable you to gain hands-on experience with various kinds of test equipment and other lab tools. While these courses will help prepare you for an entry-level job as a medical scientist, they will also be beneficial if you decide to pursue further education in graduate school.

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The work environment for microbiologists varies with their chosen specialty.

As with most highly specialized fields, the work environment for microbiologists varies with their chosen specialty. For example, a research microbiologist who is studying the effects of climate change on bacteria that live in ocean sediment may spend more time at sea than in a lab. A clinical microbiologist who studies infectious diseases in humans works primarily in hospitals and other medical environments. Other microbiologists may work at water treatment facilities or pharmaceutical companies.

Most microbiologists work full time and keep regular hours.

Like most scientists, microbiologists usually work full time and keep regular hours. However, when working on a research project they may have to work evenings and weekends to meet deadlines. They also may spend many hours writing research papers and preparing grant proposals.

Microbiologists who work in laboratories often are surrounded by other scientists who share their interests and enthusiasm for their work. Those who work in the field often must travel, sometimes to remote areas of the world that offer little comfort or safety.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for microbiologists was $69,960 in May 2010, with the top 10 percent earning more than $117,890 annually.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for microbiologists was $69,960 in May 2010, with the top 10 percent earning more than $117,890 annually. The best-paid industries were pharmaceuticals and medicine manufacturing and federal executive branch agencies.

The BLS reports that microbiologists employed by government agencies earned an average of $87,590 a year as of 2011. Those who worked for scientific research and development services earned slightly less at an average of $79,120 per year. Individuals working in other professional, scientific and technical services had an average annual wage of $74,150 while those working in colleges or universities averaged between $50,060-$84,080 annually depending on their positions.

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Salaries for microbiologists vary by industry and specialty

The salary of a microbiologist depends on their industry as well as their specialty. Microbiologists can work in fields such as public health, industrial microbiology and food safety. A microbiologist’s annual salary is $69,960. The top 10% of all microbes earn over $117,890 annually.

Microbiologists typically hold a doctoral degree at the very minimum. In addition to formal education, employers often look for experience in the field. For example, working as a lab assistant or intern is highly beneficial for someone who wants to become a microbiologist. Many microbiologists who are employed by universities are required to publish research studies and teach classes in addition to conducting experiments and analyzing results.

A career as a microbiologist provides relatively regular hours when compared with other science-based professions that require around-the-clock care for lab animals or experiments that run continuously for days or weeks at a time. However, some laboratory specialties do require microbiologists to have flexible schedules given their need to respond quickly when problems arise with experiments outside of normal business hours.


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