Quality Assurance Microbiologist: Job Description, Duties and Outlook

Quality assurance microbiologists require a significant amount of formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and career outlook projections to see if this is the right career for you.

In addition to ensuring production regulations and standards are met, quality assurance microbiologists perform many other duties, including conducting equipment audits, testing equipment for efficiency and performance and finding ways to correct product defects. They might also be responsible for collecting product samples for the purpose of laboratory testing. These professionals require at least a bachelor's degree in a field such as microbiology, biochemistry or cell biology.

Essential Information

Quality assurance (QA) microbiologists work in research laboratories and ensure that products and processes are completed in accordance with set standards. These professionals may find jobs in the food and pharmaceutical industries. A relevant bachelor's degree is the minimum educational requirement to work in this field.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in biochemistry, cell biology or microbiology
Projected Job Growth 4% from 2014 - 2024*
Median Annual Salary (May, 2015) $67,550*

Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description of QA Microbiologist

Quality assurance microbiologists oversee the processes and systems in manufacturing, research and other settings. For example, QA microbiologists in a food packaging plant may ensure that instruments are sterile and abide by legal regulations. They may also evaluate equipment used in the process, noting machines that may need to be calibrated, validated or repaired.

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Job Duties of QA Microbiologist

QA microbiologists may perform regular audits and inspections on manufacturing processes to make sure that procedures adhere to the regulatory guidelines established by government agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This may include testing activities throughout the production cycle and monitoring performance of instruments for efficiency and effectiveness. QA microbiologists may also routinely analyze and interpret results, provide feedback, track defects and provide corrective actions.

QA microbiologists may also take samples of products to review in laboratories. During their review, they may use lab equipment ranging from infrared spectrometers to microbiology analyzers. To record and analyze their findings they may need to use specialized computer software. Once results are complete, QA microbiologists may present their findings and help other personnel to fine-tune production processes for enhanced quality and efficiency.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected employment opportunities for microbiologists in general to rise by 4%, slower than the average for all occupations, between 2014 and 2024. Actual demand for QA microbiologists may differ because these professionals may also work in the food processing and packaging industry. As of May 2015, the BLS reported, microbiologists earned a median annual salary of $67,550.

A QA microbiologist needs to be familiar with lab procedures in order to carry out product tests and properly analyze the results through the use of specialized equipment and software. They must have a keen eye for efficiency, and need to know when a machine requires calibration or repair. The BLS reports that new job opportunities for microbiologists will experience a slower-than-average growth between 2014-24.


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