Job Description

Clinical microbiologists analyze blood, tissue and other samples to find the disease-causing organisms present in people, animals and foods. These professionals may also help physicians diagnose and control the spread of infections.

Rewarding Aspects of Career
  • Good salary
  • Choice of multiple disciplines to specialize in, such as immunology and bacteriology
  • Able to work in a variety of industries, including research, education or food  
The Inside Scoop
Day in the Life
  • Assisting physicians in diagnosing illnesses and selecting treatments
  • Conducting research and experiments, the level of which depending on the professional’s education and certification background
  • Using highly technical equipment and technology to study and take cultures from a variety of organisms, such as fungi, viruses and bacteria
  • Being responsible for producing viral vaccines and other substances for medical analyses
  • Testing food samples for potential poisoning agents
  • Performing administrative duties, such as coordinating and supervising projects, presenting research findings and preparing technical reports
Different Types of Organizations
  • Laboratory - either in a hospital or a specialized lab that communicates / interacts with doctors offsite
  • Office (for administrative duties)
  • Industrial settings
  • University or school when taking teaching route
Expectations and Sacrifices
  • Participating in rotating night and weekend shifts
  • Risking exposure to diseases, illnesses, noxious fumes, high-pressure laboratory systems and radiation
  • Depending on your career goals, you may be in school for ten years (total years for undergraduate and doctoral studies)
  • Graduate school costs and repayments may initially offset benefit of salary (tuition and fees could exceed $20,000 for each year in a graduate program)
Current Industry Trends
  • Increasingly common for microbiologists to work on teams with technicians and scientists in other fields, because many scientific research projects involve multiple disciplines

What kind of things did people in this career enjoy doing when they were younger…
  • Conducting experiments with science kits
  • Watching shows and movies and reading books related to science / laboratories
  • Playing outside and exploring nature
2016 Employment
2026 Projected Employment
Education and Training Needed
  • Bachelor's degree in Microbiology or a related field
  • May consider voluntary certifications offered by nationally recognized organizations, such as the American Society for Microbiology
Things to do during high school/college
  • Gain as much lab experience as possible
  • Complete a microbiology-related internship
  • Gain proficiency in other related fields, such as chemistry and medicine through degree program minors, double majors, supplemental coursework or graduate/professional studies
  • Join a trade association, such as the American Society for Microbiologists
  • Join science-related clubs offered in high school
Typical Roadmap
Microbiologist Gladeo Roadmap
How to land your 1st job
  • Visit USAJOBS to find microbiology jobs in the federal government
  • Make connections with teachers and professors while in high school and college
  • Attend science-related job fairs
  • Complete a microbiology-related internship, preferably somewhere you could see yourself working, and make a good impression and connections
  • Keep LinkedIn and other job sites up-to-date
What it really takes to make it and succeed
  • Communication skills: should be able to effectively communicate their research processes and findings so that knowledge may be applied correctly
  • Detail oriented: must be able to conduct scientific experiments and analyses with accuracy and precision
  • Interpersonal skills: typically work on research teams and thus must work well with others toward a common goal; many also lead research teams and must be able to motivate and direct other team members
  • Logical-thinking skills: must be able to draw conclusions from experimental results through sound reasoning and judgment
  • Math skills: these professionals regularly use complex mathematical equations and formulas in their work, so they need a broad understanding of math, including calculus and statistics
  • Observation skills: responsible for constantly monitoring their experiments; they need to keep a complete, accurate record of their work, noting conditions, procedures, and results
  • Perseverance: their involves substantial trial and error, and microbiologists must not become discouraged in their work
  • Problem-solving skills: these professionals use scientific experiments and analysis to find solutions to complex scientific problems
  • Time-management skills: need to be able to meet deadlines when conducting research and laboratory tests; they must be able to manage time and prioritize tasks efficiently while maintaining their quality of work
How to Find a Mentor
  • Internship supervisors
  • Guidance counselors
  • Teachers or professors
  • Alumni in same program (reach out through social media, such as LinkedIn, or ask guidance counselor / professor for suggestions and introductions)
Plan B
  • Biological Technician: for those who want to work in the sciences, but don't want their opportunities limited by not having a graduate degree; they assist scientists in the lab, and a bachelor's degree in biology or a related field is typically the only educational requirement
  • Epidemiologist: for those who are particularly interested in studying infectious diseases and finding ways to prevent and cure them and would like better career prospects; a master's degree in the field is the minimum requirement, although those who work in universities usually have Ph.D. degrees
Words of Advice

Microbiologists typically receive greater responsibility and independence in their work as they gain experience. This can be achieved through certification and higher education. Ph.D. microbiologists usually lead research teams and control the direction and content of projects.

Be persistent, responsible and cooperative when working toward your goals and don’t be afraid to fail and make mistakes for the greater good.


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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Learning Path

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