What does a Microbiologist do?

A microbiologist works in offices or laboratories. This career tests microorganisms like fungi, viruses, parasites, bacteria, and algae. They perform scientific experiments to attempt to understand how organisms interact with their environment or how they grow and live. They also interact and work with technicians and scientists on research teams.

How to Become a Microbiologist

A bachelor’s degree in microbiology or in a closely related field like cell biology, is required. There are several colleges and universities that provide programs in microbiology and biological sciences. A student that majors in microbiology must take studies in virology, microbial genetics, environmental microbiology, microbial physiology, physics, biochemistry, and chemistry.

In order for a microbiologist to do complex data analysis, he or she must also have taken classes in computer science, mathematics, and statistics. In addition, an aspiring microbiologist must have laboratory experience, which most undergraduate microbiology programs include.

Some students may gain an internship with an employer to further their laboratory experience. For those desiring to work in independent research like in colleges or universities, he or she would require a Ph.D.

Job Description of a Microbiologist

A microbiologist conducts basic or applied research in order to gain scientific knowledge. The basic research would grow bacteria strains in different combinations of conditions to study the reaction. A microbiologist in applied research would develop new vaccines, genetically engineered crops, or create better biofuels. A microbiologist works in a team with other technicians and scientists that help with the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses. They study microorganisms by isolating and maintaining cultures of bacteria and collect specimens from humans, environment, plants, or animals to classify and identify microorganisms present in those specimens.

Microbiologists remain updated in current knowledge through the reviews and findings of other researchers or they may attend conferences relevant to their job. They publish research papers, write technical reports, and present research findings to the public, scientists, or other colleagues. There are various types of microbiologists and this determines the type of work, study, or experimentation that they would perform in their daily duties. However, a microbiologist should be skilled in logical thinking, communication, math, observation, and problem-solving among other valuable skills like perseverance.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Microbiologist.

National Center for O*NET Development. 19-1022.00. O*NET OnLine.

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