Microbiologists study the growth, development, and other characteristics of microscopic organisms such as bacteria, algae, and fungi.
Sample of Reported Job Titles
Microbiologist, Microbiological Analyst, Clinical Laboratory Scientist, Bacteriologist, Study Director, Microbiological Laboratory Technician, Microbiology Laboratory Manager, Professor of Microbiology, Quality Control Microbiologist (QC Microbiologist), Clinical Microbiologist
Most microbiologists work in research and development. Many conduct basic research with the aim of increasing scientific knowledge. Others conduct applied research, using knowledge from basic research to develop new products or solve particular problems. For example, microbiologists help to develop genetically engineered crops, biofuels, and ways to protect the environment.
Microbiologists use computers and a wide variety of sophisticated laboratory instruments to do their experiments and analyze the results. For example, microbiologists use powerful electron microscopes to study bacteria. They use advanced computer software to analyze the growth of microorganisms found in samples.
Most microbiologists work as part of a team. An increasing number of scientific research projects involve multiple disciplines, and it is common for microbiologists to work on teams with technicians and scientists in other fields. For example, microbiologists researching new drugs may work with medical scientists and biochemists to develop new medicines such as antibiotics and vaccines. As another example, microbiologists in medical diagnostic laboratories work alongside physicians, nurses, medical laboratory technologists and technicians and other health professionals to help prevent, treat, and cure diseases.
The following are examples of types of microbiologists:
Bacteriologists study the growth, development, and other properties of bacteria, including the positive and negative effects bacteria have on plants, animals, and humans.
Clinical microbiologists study microorganisms that can cause, cure, or be used to treat diseases in humans.
Immunologists study how organisms’ immune systems react to and defend against microorganisms.
Mycologists study the properties of fungi such as yeast and mold, as well as the ways fungi can be used (for example, in food and medicine) to benefit society.
Virologists study the structure, development, and other properties of viruses and any effects they would have on organisms they infect.
A bachelor's degree in microbiology or a closely related field such as biochemistry or cell biology is needed for entry-level microbiologist jobs. Microbiologists typically need a Ph.D. to carry out independent research and work in colleges and universities.
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, the salary of a Microbiologist in 2018 was highly variable. The lowest 10% earned less than $41,820, the median salary was $71,650, and the top 10% earned more than $133,550. This variance in salary is largely caused by an individuals education level, experience, and the industry in which they when.
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- American Society for Microbiology
- Society for Industrial Microbiology
- List of Professional Organizations
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