Microbiologists: Jobs, Career, Salary and Education Information

Microbiologists make a lot of difference in our daily lives and today’s society. From testing of food to ensure they are fit for consumption, to making sure that they are rid of diseases, professional microbiologists are the closest thing to daily superheroes we have. A typical description of the job of a microbiologist is far too extended to just testing foods and helping to prevent diseases. It also includes a technological aspect that sees them take part in the creation of green trackers to better understand the activities and roles of micro-organisms as they deal with climate change scenarios.


Typically, microbiologists are scientists and researchers who simply ask the right questions and make the needed inquiry just to try and find out all they can about microbes. Generally, the domain or safe haven for all of their works and inquiries is mostly in laboratories of specialized colleges and universities, research facilities and institutions et cetera, however, their lap samples are usually carried from the field and into the lab for experimentation. The work of the microbiologist is very important and can benefit the individual at all levels. This is why in this article, we will try to shed a clear light on the professional microbiologists and define their role, the sort of job that they do or are expected to do, their career path, and what it takes to become one. We will also be revealing the idea salary expectation for being a qualified microbiologist, including other educational information that is very necessary to know.

Who Is A Microbiologist?

A professional microbiologist is someone who has, through schooling and education, studied the life and activities of microbes (micro-organisms) to better understand how they impact human life, and how they can be exploited to the advantage of man. For the microbiologist, the main purpose of learning about microbes is to allow for a better understanding of they exist, survive, and interact in the ecosystem, this way, information gathered on them can be utilized to improve both the health and good living, as well as the human environment.

What Does A Microbiologist Do?

Typical microbiologists are in the business of solving a daily range of problems including preventing, controlling, and running diagnostics on diseases and infections that are gotten from the human surroundings, especially in food. Microbiologists also function as an important party that plays a major role in projects related to climate change, and green technologies, and other similar endeavours. The microbiologist focus on the body biology of microbes both at the cellular and molecular levels, and their ecological characteristics. Some of the major microbes microbiologists pay attention to are fungi, bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and algae among others. All in all, the role of a microbiologist is especially visible in three sectors; climate change and environment, healthcare, and agriculture and food security.

The Role of A Microbiologist In Climate Change And Environment

Through the exploits of microbiologists, it has been established that microbes are one of the major causes of climate change for the reason that they produce the majority of the methane gases which bring about global warming. These microbes have also been found, by microbiologists, to have some very important benefits in the fight against climate change because they also serve as an important component of biofuel. A notable role that the microbiologist has in the fight against climate change is also based on the discovery of the economic importance of microbes to the carbon, nitrogen, and nutrient circles. One fundamental tool deployed by microbiologists to clean up and ensure a germ-free, clean air-conducive environment for all is known as bioremediation.

The Role of A Microbiologist In Healthcare

This is one popular role the microbiologist is well-known for, that is, helping doctors and caregivers treat and prevent disease infection and spreading. The reason humans fall sick in the first place is because of the presence of any of the disease-causing microbes, whether it is a virus, bacteria, or perhaps a fungus. Hence, a big part of the roles of the expert microbiologist is concentrated on studying these disease-causing microbes in other to learn how they come to cause such diseases in other to correct them. Through the accomplishments of expert microbiologists, it has been found that some of these microbes can serve for the benefit of man as they can be used for antibiotic remedies for a lot of these illnesses caused by microbes. Experts in microbiology may not be stationed on the frontline like the medical doctors and other primary health caregivers, but their background roles are what ultimately bring about breakthroughs in disease treatment and care in the patients. 

The Role of A Microbiologist In Agriculture And Food Security

Even though microbes are responsible for causing sicknesses and diseases in humans, some are pivotal in the production and processing of our foods. For example, some microbes are included in cheese making, yoghurt, even chocolate, and bread among other things. That aside, during food consumption by humans, expert microbiologists discovery shows that over a tenth of millions of microbes (including bacteria) are present in the human mouth and gut to assist in the breaking down and digestion of food as well as fighting off other diseases causing microbes and effectively preventing them from contaminating the food. For agricultural produce, some microbes are also responsible for causing a bountiful harvest and help in preventing disease outbreaks, while others work to bring about the diseases. This then goes to show that microbiologists have a very important place in the survival story of the society and of course, the human race being that they study the smallest, most important catalyst of life and how they interact and offset other living and non-living entities.

How Do One Become A Microbiologist?

To become a microbiologist you must first acquire a bachelor’s degree in microbiology or any of its related fields. This process might typically take you between 3 and 5 years to complete in other to qualify you for entry-level job opportunities. However, due to the nature of the job, the emergence of new experimental technologies, and the ever-present twists and turns like microbes, if you must stay up to date and distinguished in the discipline, furthering for a higher degree such as getting your master’s as far as your PhD will be necessary and will come in handy.

The Jobs and Work Designation of a Microbiologist

The primary job of the microbiologist is to study and understand the life and existence of microbes (or micro-organisms) examples of which include viruses, bacteria, and fungi. The purpose of such a study is to know how these microbes survive, interact, and affect other communities around their environment. The typical duties of the microbiologist involve a wide range of tasks and expectations such as planning and organizing intensive research programs – which may be geared towards finding a cure for a new disease or improving one for better effective purposes. Confined to the lab most of the time, microbiologists are also popular for carrying out laboratory examinations specially planned for use in diseases and illnesses diagnostics, care, and treatment. There are several other specialized jobs and duties the typical microbiologist perform and the above does not necessarily include all of them.

What Types Of Microbiologists Are There?

Because the field of microbiology is very vast, and for the fact that studying microbes that exist in billions is not nearly as easy, the discipline has been divided into bits and specialization for better practice by professionals.

1.     Clinical Microbiologist

There is the clinical microbiologist whose job cuts across a variety of laboratory functions including testing of living and non-living specimens to track the history of any certain disease problem in other to find solutions to them.

2.     Bacteriologists

Bacteriologists are another specialized personnel under the discipline, and as their name sounds, their job is mostly in regards to learning about the nature, growth, and properties of bacteria and how they affect other bodies and communities.

Other designations in the field include environmental and industrial microbiologists, mycologists (those who study fungus), virologists, parasitologists et cetera. All of the above mentions are independent specialty areas in microbiology and are focused to get the maximum results in their respective fields of interest.

The Education Suited For A Microbiologist

As has been stated before, one of the first things a genuine microbiologist must possess is a college or university degree in the course microbiology or its related course. Through this period of acquiring a degree, prospects should have gone through a standard and specialized coursework which must include learning biochemistry and cell biology to get them on course for a better understanding of what the discipline is all about. Generally, students who seek a major in microbiology often must enrol in courses such as microbial physiology, and microbial genetics, while learning virology and or environmental microbiology as part of their elective courses. The pure sciences subjects – chemistry, physics, biochemistry, come in handy also for prospects to get them well-grounded in the sciences. Also, for the analytics needs and know-how, the student of microbiology should take relevant courses in either statistics, maths, or computer science. Gaining laboratory experience is priceless to the microbiology undergrad as the majority of professional works and experiments are carried out in specialized facilities and institutions. With the foregoing in place, there becomes an increasing need for students of this discipline to learn, relearn, and master the scientific research method of observation, hypothesizing, theorizing, experimenting, examining of study subjects at the undergrad level. Even after completion of the first degree, most microbiologists go on to get their PhD as this empowers them to become independent researchers, allowing them to carry on in projects for colleges and institutions affiliated with them.

What Is The Salary Expectation For A Microbiologist?

The job of a microbiologist is very delicate and necessary for the survival of man and the environment, so it does make sense to expect professionals in this field to bank home some decent amount in a weekly or monthly paycheck. Despite the foregoing notwithstanding, the salary expectation for a microbiologist tends to vary and can be influenced by a lot of factors such as the country of practice, the size demand, employer, and the skills and educational level of the microbiologist. But, for what it is worth, a typical microbiologist entry-level worker earns from as low as NGN 350 000 to as high as NGN 1.2 million every month.

What Are The Qualities And Skills Of A Microbiologist?

There is a long list of skills and qualities expected of any genuine microbiology expert, and these skills cut across communication, sound and logical reasoning, analytic thinking and problem-solving, and of course management skills.

1.     Great Communication Skill

As with any profession worth doing, having good and superior communication skills should form part of the basic needs of the microbiologist because they need this to be able to pass across observations and findings to other departments within and beyond the laboratories and experimenting facilities. Excelling in this profession means more than just knowing how to look into the microscope. A certified practitioner of microbiology should be familiar with the scientific method and well learned on how to present and communicate facts in a way that they are simplified and understood by other stakeholders.

2.     Good Sense Of Observation

It is in observing that you find the root cause of problems, therefore microbiologists must possess this quality in the right amount because their daily job circles around the monitoring of microbes to find the causes for a certain issue. Good record keeping and note taking are also part of this process and must be incorporated alongside the observation in other to collect accurate data of the problem so that the final results will not be flawed by misleading data.

3.     Logical-thinking And Problem-solving

A competent microbiologist must be logically sound and adventurous. This helps them with the ability to make inferences from experimental findings. Problem-solving is another one of the very basic skills to nurture from the onset. This enables the practitioner to merge scientific and analytic variables to arrive at the desired results.

4.      A Touch Of Perseverance

Even when several trials through experimentations and calculations seem to be yielding no valid result, the microbiologist must not ever consider quitting as an option so must be patient in trying and retrying data to fix errors and misjudgments for the desired research outcome.

5.     Interpersonal Skills Are A ‘Must Have’

Microbiologists usually do not work in isolation because they are in the laboratories researching and seeking solutions with several others each in their respective specialty. Not having decent interpersonal skills will no doubt hamper the productivity of any microbiologist. Even if for instance the microbiologist is an independent researcher in a solo project at his or her private lab, samples would still need to be sent by them to other specialized departments and the skill to make this work out is the interpersonal skill.

6.      Must-Know How To Manage Time

Because they work on set deadlines, it becomes even more pressing for the microbiologist to be a good time manager. A microbiologist’s work is usually tagged ‘high priority, and most are given greater concentration than a lot of other tasks from other disciplines.


CollegeGrad. “Microbiologists.” https://collegegrad.com/careers/microbiologists

Microbiology Society. “What Microbiologists Do.” https://microbiologysociety.org/careers/what-microbiologists-do.html

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