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QC Microbiologist: Education Requirements and Career Information

Sep 28, 2019

QC microbiologists require significant formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and certification to see if this is the right career for you.

Earning a bachelor's degree in microbiology is the first step to becoming a quality control microbiologist. This job involves testing raw samples for contamination, and is required by a number of industries for legal and oversight reasons. Voluntary certification, work experience, and a master's degree are all good things to pursue to advance your career in this field.

Essential Information

Quality control (QC) microbiologists work in manufacturing and production industries to test for contamination of materials, products and equipment. Becoming a QC microbiologist usually requires a four-year college degree.

Required Education Bachelor's degree; graduate degree for advancement
Other Requirements Voluntary professional certification available
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 5% for microbiologists*
Median Annual Salary (2018) $71,650 for microbiologists*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements

Quality control microbiologist careers generally require a bachelor's degree in microbiology or a similar field from an accredited four-year university. Biology majors receive a basic education in chemistry, biology, physics and mathematics. For microbiology majors, specialized upper-division coursework includes subjects such as:

  • Virology
  • Cell biology
  • Environmental microbiology
  • Microbial genetics

Coursework includes lecture and laboratory courses. Students can also look into doing undergraduate research while completing a bachelor's degree, which increases documented laboratory experience.

Getting a master's degree in microbiology can take the place of job experience and increase chances of advancement after job experience is gained. Master's degree programs in microbiology take one to two years to complete, and involve a combination of graduate coursework and research. Classes can include subjects such as industrial microbiology and bacterial physiology.

Career Information

QC microbiologists test raw materials and products for the presence of bacterial contamination in industries such as food, pharmaceutical and biotechnology manufacturing. They test machines and equipment and select random samples from production lines for testing. Testing is done through visual examination, microscopy and chemical methods.

QC microbiologists maintain detailed documentation of their testing for legal purposes and must give regular reports on the results of their tests. They also might have general housekeeping duties, such as cleaning and maintaining the laboratory and equipment used for testing, mixing chemicals used in testing and maintaining inventory of supplies.

Voluntary Certification

Certification through organizations such as the American College of Microbiology is available. To receive certification, a person must have a minimum of a bachelor's degree and pass a qualifying examination.

Salary Information

Microbiologists working in the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing industry earned an average annual salary of $75,840 in 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Those doing scientific research and development services received an average annual salary of $94,540. The mean annual wage for microbiologists in general was $81,150.

Microbiologists are hired by companies and organizations in a variety of fields, and QC microbiologists are the specific professionals who test samples and equipment for microbe contamination. To become qualified to do this job, you first need a bachelor's degree in a field related to microbiology. You will almost certainly work in a laboratory environment, but may also need to do site visits and keep strict records of findings.

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