Microbiologists study the biology of microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa and algae; examples of microbiologists include bacteriologists, virologists, immunologists and clinical microbiologists. They often work in research and development, although they may also instruct students in microbiology if they hold a position at colleges and universities. Their duties include conducting research projects to examine microorganisms, preparing samples for testing (such as through plating, swabbing and/or incubation), recording their findings accurately, and writing reports and research papers on their findings. Microbiologists also supervise biological technicians and other laboratory workers, as well as stay up to date on research and developments within their field.
A bachelor’s degree in microbiology, cell biology or a related field is typically the minimum educational requirement for entry-level microbiologist positions. Additional education may be required or preferred as well; for example, a doctoral degree is often required for positions involving independent research and/or work in a university. Previous experience in a related position is generally required or preferred.
These scientists must be able to use laboratory equipment such as electron microscopes, relevant computer software, stains and weighing equipment, among others. Microbiologists must work well in a team environment, such as in a laboratory with other microbiologists, laboratory technicians and others; they also need to be able to work well on their own with minimal supervision. A strong understanding of proper laboratory techniques - including those related to safety - is needed as well.
Study and document growth, physiology, morphology, and general characteristics of microorganisms.
Write technical reports to communicate findings and procedures.
Supervise laboratory staff, including schedules and tasks.
Perform assays and determinations of organisms and substrates for identification and to determine interactions.