Job description

Microbiologists study microorganisms and the various subdisciplines of microbiology, including algae, bacteria, fungi, viruses and many types of parasites. The purpose of this position is to better understand how these organisms live, thrive and interact with their environments. Microbiologists will collaborate on a research team with other scientists and technicians to improve medical treatments and food supplies and to contribute to alternative energy sources.


    • Study human, animal and plant cells, pathogens, tissues and toxins
    • Carry out trials for new pharmaceuticals, medicines and vaccines
    • Offer laboratory services for public health agencies related to environmental health programmes
    • Perform routine testing on microbiological activities
    • Maintain and update knowledge regarding testing methods
    • Supervise technologists, technicians and other team members when completing experiments
    • Sterilise all manual equipment and supplies prior to laboratory analysis
    • Establish and prepare documents for lab protocol for all employees
    • Develop new testing processes for raw materials
    • Record accurate accounts and data collected in the laboratory
    • Monitor inventory of tools, technology and supplies, and make purchase orders when needed
    • Probe into issues that have created problems on samples

Skills and qualities

Attention to detail

Job outlook

Projected growth
The projected growth rate of employment in the US from 2016 to 2026, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme. The national average growth rate for all professions is 7%.


New jobs
The number of jobs projected to become available in the US between 2016 and 2026, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme.


Automation risk
The probability of computerisation, based on data published in ‘The Future of Employment’, a 2013 working paper by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne.


Career progression

Microbiologists will start their careers finding employment with recruiters. Before earning a job with federal and state governments, many microbiologists begin their careers at food processing companies, pharmaceutical laboratories, universities, hospitals and research institutions. With enough experience and credentials, microbiologists can work at the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Eventually, you will have gained enough experience and accolades that you can enter into teaching.

Working conditions

Average hours

35h/ week

Typical schedule

Full Time

Standard business hours

A microbiologist will work full time and maintain regular office hours. This professional will spend most of his or her time inside a laboratory to complete scientific experiments, but a small portion of their schedule will be in the office to analyse the results.


Bottom 10%




Top 10%


Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.

Qualifications and training

Education level


BA in biology or microbiology

Study time

4 years

The basic prerequisite for microbiologists is a bachelor’s degree in either biology or microbiology. However, if you wish to advance in your career, such as high-level positions in government or universities, then a master’s degree or a doctoral degree is essential.

Certification is not mandatory, although it can improve your job prospects.

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 2, 2022

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