Bacteriologist: Job Description, Duties and Salary

Bacteriologists require a significant amount of formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and skills to see if this is the right career for you.

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A bacteriologist is responsible for studying various kinds of bacteria, which are constantly changing and evolving. They typically do their research in a laboratory, mostly for government or pharmaceutical agencies. Microbiologists, which includes bacteriologists, earn a yearly salary of about $68,000.

Essential Information

Bacteriology is the study of microorganisms and their effects on animals. Bacteriologists monitor the ecology, metabolism and reproduction of these organisms. Bacteriologists may work closely with other scientists to conduct research experiments and learn more about microorganism behavior. A bachelor's degree is a typical requirement for bacteriologists, though a Ph.D. is necessary in order to conduct independent research or work through a university.

Required Education Bachelor's degree, typically in microbiology
Other Requirements Ph.D. required to perform independent research or work for university
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 4% for microbiologist, including bacteriologists
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $67,550 for microbiologists, including bacteriologists

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description for a Bacteriologist

Bacteriologists may specialize in a particular field, such as marine or veterinary bacteriology. These professionals use their academic knowledge and working experience to review bacteria growth and its effects on animals and the ecosystem. Bacteriologist plan and conduct laboratory experiments, as well as record and analyze data. Bacteriologists may work for pharmaceutical companies, developing drugs and vaccines, as well as for government agencies analyzing food and water for contamination.

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Bacteriologist Job Duties

Pharmaceutical bacteriologists monitor drugs, bacteria and an animal's health in order to determine the effects of the drug on both the bacteria and the animal. For example, bacteriologists may begin a study by placing an antibiotic in a bacterial culture. These professionals then observe and record their results over a specified period of time. Drugs that are reported successful in this trial may then be tested on infected animals.

Bacteriologists may also test the levels of bacteria, toxins or contamination present in food. These professionals work for food processors or governmental departments responsible for ensuring food safety. In this role, bacteriologists are responsible for planning and coordinating laboratory analysis including schedules for experimentation and observation.

Marine bacteriologists collect samples of animals to test for contamination. Bacteriologist may then dissect the animals and use sophisticated microscopes and other equipment to evaluate levels of pathogens and microbes. These professionals may also coordinate their work with other scientists and environmental agencies.

Salary for a Bacteriologist

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that microbiologists, including bacteriologists, earned a median annual wage of $67,550 in May 2015. Job opportunities for microbiologists in general were expected to increase by 4% from 2014-2024, slightly slower than the national average. Growth is expected to be fueled in part by the development of pharmaceuticals. Competition is expected to be strong for research grants from two of the main funders in this area: the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

Bacteriologists collect different samples from plants, drugs, animals, and other things to test for bacteria. They also study cultures or controlled cultivations of bacteria. Safety precautions must strictly be abided by. Bacteriologists require a bachelor's degree in microbiology or a related field, but a graduate degree is needed for higher-level research positions.

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