Microbiology is on the cutting edge of present-day scientific progress. It is a promising field for anyone looking for a meaningful, successful, intellectually stimulating career. But what, exactly, does a microbiologist do?
If you are looking for a job in this area, chances are you will work in a lab with other microbiologists and, quite likely, with specialists in various disciplines. You can work in privately-owned companies or in public institutions, and in paths as diverse— among others— as healthcare, pharmaceutical development, agricultural production, or environmental conservation.
Your responsibilities on the job may include planning and carrying out trial experiments, writing academic research papers, or acting as a supervisor to production processes. You could also be expected to develop action plans to tackle specific issues, or review and pass on knowledge to others.
Common traits for working in microbiology include a keen, analytical mind, creativity to find unexpected solutions, and the ability to work well in a team setting. Also paramount are a strong dedication to the process and an appropriate level of education.
According to official US statistics, a microbiologist earns, on average, $32.14 per hour —that is, $66,850 a year—, which is significantly higher than the general yearly median, at $44,564 per year. An entry-level job in this field can yield, reportedly, from $26,160 to $48,396. Microbiology is, overall, a vastly rewarding profession— so, how do you get into it?
Microbiology, as a scientific field, requires a robust education— and employers will expect proof of it. Thus, it is important to know what paths are available to a hopeful professional.
If you are not yet sure of your interest, you can take classes at a community college, or even short or online courses. This way, you will make better, informed decisions.
A safe path is to attend college. Courses that are conducive to a career in microbiology can be specific to this knowledge area (i.e., a Bachelor in Microbiology), but you can also major in a different field such as medicine, physics, or biology. Keep in mind that the alternative you choose must provide you with a scientific education.
After gaining a basic degree, you might need to achieve certification by an official body (in the US, American College of Microbiology) and take qualifying examinations. If you want to research or work in academic institutions, you may be required to pursue a postgraduate—masters, doctoral, or further training— course in microbiology. You can also opt to gain experience in the field through an entry-level job in a related area.
Go for it!
Microbiology is at the forefront of scientific innovation and, despite requiring intensive education, it is a highly rewarding field. If you are interested in becoming a microbiology professional, go for it! There are countless opportunities for success!