What does a Microbiologist do?

Learn all about Microbiologist duties, skills and much more. Get expert advice on how to become a Microbiologist.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 4 min read

A microbiologist is a scientist who studies microorganisms, which are tiny living things that can only be seen with a microscope. Microbiologists try to understand how these organisms live, grow, and interact with their environment.

Microbiologist job duties include:

  • Study the growth, structure, development, and other characteristics of microscopic organisms such as bacteria, algae, and fungi.
  • Isolate and maintain cultures of bacteria and other microorganisms for use in experiments or for producing antibiotics and other chemicals.
  • Study the effects of microorganisms on humans and animals.
  • Investigate the sources of food poisoning and waterborne diseases.
  • Develop methods for preventing the spread of infectious diseases.
  • Identify new strains of bacteria and develop ways to control their growth.
  • Study the genetic makeup of microorganisms in order to understand their evolution and potential for causing disease.
  • Develop vaccines and other treatments for bacterial infections.
  • Use microscopes, chromatography, and other laboratory equipment to conduct experiments.

Microbiologist Job Requirements

A Microbiologist typically requires a Bachelor's degree in Microbiology or a related field. Many employers also require Microbiologists to be certified through the American Society for Microbiology. In some cases, experience in a related field may be substituted for formal education requirements.

Microbiologist Skills

  • Aseptic technique
  • Bacteria
  • Cell culture
  • DNA
  • Gram staining
  • Hemocytometer
  • Infectious diseases
  • Molecular biology
  • Plate reader
  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
  • Sterilization
  • Virology

Related: Top Microbiologist Skills: Definition and Examples

How to become a Microbiologist

Microbiologists are scientists who study microscopic organisms, including bacteria, viruses, algae, fungi, and protozoa. They may work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and food manufacturing facilities. Some microbiologists also teach at colleges and universities.

To become a microbiologist, you will need to earn a bachelor’s degree in microbiology or a related field. Many employers also require that microbiologists have a master’s degree or doctorate. You can expect to take courses in biology, chemistry, physics, and math as part of your undergraduate or graduate program. In addition, you will need to complete laboratory rotations and research projects.

After completing your education, you will need to obtain a license if you plan to work in a hospital or other healthcare setting. To become licensed, you will need to pass an exam administered by your state’s licensing board. Once you are licensed, you will need to renew your license every few years by completing continuing education credits.

If you are interested in becoming a microbiologist, start by talking to your guidance counselor or college advisor about the best way to prepare for this career. They can help you choose the right courses and suggest extracurricular activities that will make you a more competitive candidate for jobs or graduate programs. You should also consider joining professional organizations such as the American Society for Microbiology, which offer networking opportunities and resources for students and professionals.

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