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Career Profile: Microbiologists

Investigate the growth, structure, development, and other characteristics of microscopic organisms, such as bacteria, algae, or fungi. Includes medical microbiologists who study the relationship between organisms and disease or the effects of antibiotics on microorganisms.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 21,400 people employed as microbiologists in the United States. The median annual salary is $84,400. Entry level employees earn approximately $45,690 per year and senior employees earn approximately $156,360 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Conduct chemical analyses of substances such as acids, alcohols, and enzymes.
  • Prepare technical reports and recommendations, based upon research outcomes.
  • Supervise biological technologists and technicians and other scientists.
  • Monitor and perform tests on water, food, and the environment to detect harmful microorganisms or to obtain information about sources of pollution, contamination, or infection.
  • Use a variety of specialized equipment, such as electron microscopes, gas and high-pressure liquid chromatographs, electrophoresis units, thermocyclers, fluorescence-activated cell sorters, and phosphorimagers.
  • Observe action of microorganisms upon living tissues of plants, higher animals, and other microorganisms, and on dead organic matter.
  • Study the structure and function of human, animal, and plant tissues, cells, pathogens, and toxins.
  • Research use of bacteria and microorganisms to develop vitamins, antibiotics, amino acids, grain alcohol, sugars, and polymers.
  • Develop new products and procedures for sterilization, food and pharmaceutical supply preservation, or microbial contamination detection.
  • Isolate and maintain cultures of bacteria or other microorganisms in prescribed or developed media, controlling moisture, aeration, temperature, and nutrition.
  • Study growth, structure, development, and general characteristics of bacteria and other microorganisms to understand their relationship to human, plant, and animal health.
  • Examine physiological, morphological, and cultural characteristics, using microscope, to identify and classify microorganisms in human, water, and food specimens.
  • Provide laboratory services for health departments, community environmental health programs, and physicians needing information for diagnosis and treatment.
  • Investigate the relationship between organisms and disease, including the control of epidemics and the effects of antibiotics on microorganisms.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
21,400
Annual Openings:
2,000
Increase in Openings by 2030:
5%
Annual Salary Range:
$45,690 - $156,360
Education Requirements:
Bachelor's degree