Continuing Education Opportunities for Microbiology Technologists

Instructor: Jessica Keys
If you're a graduate or professional in microbiology technology and you're interested in taking your education to the next level, check out this article and learn more about the continuing education opportunities that are out there for you.

Licensing, Certification and Professional Fellowship

Licensing regulations for all clinical laboratory workers, including microbiology technologists, will vary from state to state; some states require licensure while others do not. Moreover, your place of employment may require that you hold professional certification in microbiology or a relevant field. However, for many microbiologists, certification remains an optional, but helpful means of enhancing one's career.

Once you have earned your state license or professional certification, you will need to maintain these credentials on a regular basis by taking approved continuing education courses. This is to ensure that your knowledge base is always current, and that you are actively working to improve your skills. There are also professional membership organizations for microbiologists and other laboratory scientists, providing resources, fellowship and continuing education.

The American Society for Clinical Pathology


The ASCP Board of Certification offers 'gold standard' certification specifically for microbiologists (the M(ASCP) Technologist in Microbiology), and earning it requires a passing score on a 100-question, multiple choice exam. Check out the Board of Certification section on the ASCP's website for more information on the exam, how eligibility is determined and how to register. The Board of Certification also administers state licensing exams for California, New York, Florida and other states.

Becoming a member of the ASCP will also allow you to connect with other technologists while offering access to continuing education courses and other resources to help you manage your credentials and support your career.

The American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science


The ASCLS is a membership organization for health care laboratory professionals, students and educators, including those who specialize in microbiology. Noted for their P.A.C.E (Professional Acknowledgment for Continuing Education) program, which features a multitude of online continuing education credit options, ASCLS also hosts a five-day annual exposition for clinical laboratory professionals. The ASCLS publishes Clinical Laboratory Science, a quarterly research journal (available to members and paid subscribers).

American Society for Microbiology / The National Registry of Certified Microbiologists


The ASM is an academic and professional organization for microbiologists in all fields, as well as students, researchers and educators. It offers many workshops and seminars for its members, as well as mentoring, grants, conferences, university student chapters and more. For the enrichment of its members and the scientific community, the ASM publishes several scholarly journals, magazines and online content, all related to microbiology and its many facets, including:

  • AEM: Applied and Environmental Microbiology
  • CVI: Clinical and Vaccine Immunology
  • JB: Journal of Bacteriology
  • JMBE: Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education (Open Source)
  • Microbiology Spectrum
  • Microcosm (quarterly print magazine for members)

And more.

The National Registry of Certified Microbiologists is the certifying arm of the ASM. However, as of 2017, the examination board will begin a phase-out period; no new applications are being accepted, and the final exams will be administered in April 2018. Those who have already applied will be able to sit for their exams, and those who have already received NRCM certification will still be able to renew their credentials by taking continuing education courses, which are also offered by the ASM.

Education, Degrees and Training

I'm a New Microbiology Student...

For a strong start on the right foot, check out's own Intro to Microbiology (Microbiology 101). This online course will introduce you to the essentials, from laboratory techniques and tools, to bacteria, viruses, fungal infections, immunology and more. Our courses are totally online and can be completed at your own pace, featuring fast and fun lessons that are designed to fit your schedule. Plus, each chapter comes with its own practice exam, so you can assess your progress at every turn.

I Have an Associate's Degree…

While many career opportunities exist for associate's degree holders (in clinical or medical technology, or a related field) and technicians, if you intend to pursue a career as a microbiology technologist, you will most likely have to earn a four-year degree to be eligible for an entry level position. This degree should be in microbiology or a related subject (such as biology, biochemistry, or other life sciences). Also, laboratory experience is essential and can be gained through additional laboratory courses, internships and so on.

In this case, a two-year degree in a science or medical-related field is still very helpful as you may use your degree to transfer into a university program (requirements will vary from school to school).

I Have a Bachelor's Degree…

If you already have a bachelor's degree in microbiology, you may want to pursue even higher education, particularly if you intend to sit for certain professional certification exams. For example, to sit for the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)'s Microbiology certification exam, you must have a bachelor's degree and clinical experience, plus post-baccalaureate education and/or completion of a microbiology (MLS) program accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science (NAACLS).

  • Check to find an accredited MLS program near you.

When searching for a post-graduate program that is right for you, you'll want to consider your career goals. There are shorter post-baccalaureate programs designed to prepare graduates for professional certification, while earning a master's or Ph.D in microbiology may lead to a career in administration, research or education.

Earning College Credit

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To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

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