How to Become a Microbiologist
A career in microbiology requires at least a bachelor's degree in the subject. It is an increasingly popular option these days and you will find several schools offering microbiology education through programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The table below summarizes educational requirements, job growth, and average salary.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree a minimum requirement|
|Required Knowledge||Biology, chemistry, mathematics, English, administration and management|
|Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)*||5%|
|Average Salary (2018)*||$71,650|
*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Bachelor of Science in Microbiology
A Bachelor of Science (BS) in microbiology is typically a four-year program with coursework that familiarizes the student with the fundamentals of the subject and basic laboratory skills. Other course topics may include food and environmental microbiology, microbial genetics, microbial physiology, microbial immunology, and microbial virology. Successful completion of a program sets a student up for a range of careers, such as a forensic laboratory technician or product developer. Jobs in the medical and veterinary fields could also be options.
Master of Science in Microbiology
A Master of Science (MS) in microbiology typically takes 1-2 years to complete though there may be programs with greater or lesser duration. The coursework is more exhaustive than the undergraduate degree and may focus on topics such as cytokines and microbial pathogenesis, besides a more in-depth look at microbial physiology, virology, and immunology. Students are acquainted with the latest methods in the field which they can later apply in their professional lives. Graduates have a spectrum of careers they can choose in governmental, industrial and clinical areas, such as molecular biologists, immunologists, virologists, parasitologists, epidemiologists, and more.
Ph.D. in Microbiology
A doctorate in microbiology typically takes 4-5 years to achieve but like the graduate degree, the duration of the programs may vary. Coursework for the degree is geared more towards research and includes advanced topics in microbiology, virology, and immunology. The program typically culminates with a dissertation on an original research topic. Graduates will develop the capacity for research in microbiology and related fields and often end up with careers as educators, microbiology scientists, or independent researchers.
Microbiologist Requirements and Duties
The job requirements of a microbiologist include conducting experiments on and identifying, classifying and monitoring microorganisms found in the environment, plants and living beings. Further, they prepare reports and research based on what they discover and present the same to scientists and the general public. Besides, they are also expected to supervise and evaluate the work of colleagues and attend conferences related to their work field.
Career and Job Outlook of a Microbiologist
As per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary of a microbiologist is $71,650 per year. The profession is projected to grow at a rate of five percent in the period 2018-2028, which is the average for jobs in the country. This healthy growth rate is unsurprising as new treatments in the field of medicine will continue to be sought, and there should also be enough career opportunities for the microbiologist in the research and development and agricultural fields.