|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree; research may require a doctoral degree|
|Degree Field(s)||Microbiology or a related field|
|Key Skills||Attention to detail; research, oral/written communications, and laboratory skills|
|Job Outlook (2014-2024)||4% growth|
|Average Annual Salary (2015)||$76,230 (for microbiologists in general)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Fermentation microbiologists are scientists who study microscopic organisms such as yeasts, mold and fungi for use in basic and applied research. While research careers in this field are often dependent upon the availability of funding, opportunities in product development can be found in many industries. A bachelor's degree in microbiology or a related field is the minimum requirement to work in this profession. Individuals who are interested in research might need a doctoral degree.
Fermentation microbiologists work in academic, basic and applied research laboratories, where they study the fermentation processes of microorganisms like bacteria, yeasts, fungi and mold. These professionals draw on knowledge from biology, chemistry, genetics and medicine.
In the food and beverage industry, fermentation microbiologists develop and improve processes for making beer, wine, cheese and other products. They also contribute to flavorings, additives, preservation, processing and packaging, as well as food safety. Fermentation microbiologists in the agricultural or soil sciences improve animal feed, crop yields, pesticides and fungicides. Those in the pharmaceutical industry help develop new medications. In energy and environmental sciences, fermentation microbiologists apply their scientific knowledge of microscopic organisms to develop and refine biofuels, clean up environmental hazards and treat or dispose of waste products.
As scientists, fermentation microbiologists work in laboratory settings, carrying out and monitoring experiments on a microscopic level. The specific industry in which they are employed determines the type of experiments and fermentation processes they utilize. They clean, maintain and calibrate instruments, record data and report the findings of their analyses. Some are expected to deliver verbal or written reports of their research to industry, government or public forums.
Salary and Career Outlook
In 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported average yearly salaries of $76,230 for microbiologists in general. Microbiologists employed in scientific research and development earned an average of $84,730 that year, while those working in the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing industry averaged $74,630. The BLS expected slower than average job growth for this general occupation in the 10-year period from 2014 to 2024. Employment was expected to grow 4% for all types of microbiologists.
Biological research is often contingent upon the availability of funding, which might come in the form of grants or donations. The BLS notes that economic factors can make the acquisition of funding and research positions a competitive enterprise, with the most innovative and educated scientists holding an advantage.
In summary, fermentation microbiologists study microscopic organisms, such as yeasts, mold and fungi, for use in basic and applied research. These scientists earn an average annual salary of more than $76,000, but job growth is expected to be slower than average in the coming years.