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What Can You Do With a Master's in Microbiology?

A master's degree in microbiology prepares students for a range of science- and health-related careers. Learn about a few of these jobs, their median salaries and expected job growth rates.

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Some graduates with a master's in microbiology may go on to pursue medical school or a doctoral program, but there are many scientific careers available for those with the degree. Those with a background in microbiology generally work jobs that heavily involve lab work and tend to fall into the fields of biology, medicine or ecology and environmental issues. Explore some of these careers and their job duties.

Career Options for a Master's in Microbiology

Job Title Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2016-2026)*
Microbiologists $66,850 8%
Environmental Scientists and Specialists (Including Health) $68,910 11%
Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists $61,070 12%
Natural Sciences Managers $119,850 10%
Biochemists and Biophysicists $82,180 11%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Career Information for Microbiology-Related Jobs Requiring a Master's

Microbiologists

Many graduates with a master's in microbiology may choose to work as a microbiologist, which requires anywhere from a bachelor's degree for entry-level positions up to a PhD for advanced research positions. These scientists focus on studying the life cycles, physical characteristics and environmental impacts of microorganisms like fungi, viruses, parasites, bacteria and more. Their research of these microorganisms has great implications for work in different fields, like medicine and ecology, and is usually presented in technical reports and scientific articles. Graduates will use their scientific knowledge, as well as training in utilizing various types of laboratory equipment and techniques, to conduct research and possibly oversee the work of other technicians or scientists.

Environmental Scientists and Specialists

Environmental scientists and specialists must have a bachelor's degree in a science-related field, but a master's degree is common for advancement. Those with a background in microbiology will be especially able to understand the possible effects of microorganisms on the environmental health of a particular area, as well as any possible effects on human health. Environmental scientists and specialists routinely check the environment for harmful microorganisms, pollution and other issues by making observations and taking air, soil, water and other biological samples to analyze in the lab. Their findings may be reported to public health officials, policymakers and/or the public as they work to correct and further monitor any environmental problems that are found.

Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists

Although medical and clinical laboratory technologists usually only need a bachelor's degree in a life science, those with a master's degree in microbiology may continue working in these positions until they pursue advanced education within the medical field. A background in microbiology is helpful in these positions as they perform a variety of medical tests on biological samples like blood and tissue. Some of these technologists specialize as microbiology technologists and primarily work to identify bacteria or other microorganisms in medical samples. These technologists need to carefully document their work and report their findings to doctors, as well as update patients' medical histories.

Natural Sciences Managers

Natural sciences managers may hold a bachelor's, master's or doctorate degree in science, but they must have some work experience as a scientist. These managers oversee teams of scientists and their research projects for clients, which requires natural sciences managers to handle a variety of administrative duties, such as monitoring the budget and making sure the project is meeting deadlines. They also work some in the lab ensuring that safety procedures are being followed, in addition to training or helping scientists as needed. Typically, these managers maintain the inventory for the lab and serve as a liaison between the team of scientists and the client to update the client on their progress.

Biochemists and Biophysicists

Biochemists and biophysicists need a bachelor's or master's degree for entry-level positions, but they most hold doctorate degrees for independent research positions. Biochemists and biophysicists can easily utilize a background in microbiology, as these scientists study living organisms, including microorganisms, and biological processes to better understand their chemical and physical properties. They conduct research projects and experiments that may help solve problems or develop new products in fields like medicine and agriculture. They typically present their findings in technical reports and scientific papers to the scientific community.

Those with a master's degree in microbiology can work in several research-based careers in different areas of science. Depending on their particular areas of interest, students may apply their knowledge of microbiology to issues involving the environmental health, medicine, agriculture and more.

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