Microbiologists

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Also known as:
Bacteriologist, Clinical Microbiologist, Medical Microbiologist, Microbiological Analyst, Public Health Microbiologist, Quality Control Microbiologist, Virologist

ABOUT MICROBIOLOGIST CAREERS
Video transcript

Microbiologists explore a world invisible to the naked eye but which has a significant impact on our health and wellbeing. These scientists study organisms and cells that we can see only through a microscope. The universe of microorganisms is so vast, microbiologists have many areas of specialization to choose from.

Some become disease detectives, such as virologists, who focus on how viruses evolve, often studying newly identified strains in search of a cure. Immunologists study how the body fights disease. Bacteriologists strive to understand microscopic bacteria. Mycologists study molds, yeast, and mushrooms. Their work has led to antibiotics and other medicines.

Most microbiologists work in laboratories with high-tech equipment and microscopes, but there are opportunities for travel. Field epidemiologists often trek to remote regions of the globe to study frightening outbreaks of rare diseases. No wonder they're called virus hunters!

As in so many scientific careers, advancement comes with education and research experience. An entry-level spot on a research team requires at least a bachelor's degree, while Ph.Ds. are needed for senior level positions.

Though microbiologists work in education and government, the most lucrative salaries, and keenest competition, are in the private sector. Many microbiologists grew up dreaming of becoming doctor's but find they love being scientists more. Every day brings the promise of unfolding another one of nature's secrets.

SNAPSHOT
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.
Leadership
HIGH
Critical decision making
HIGH
Level of responsibilities
HIGH
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
HIGH
Dealing and handling conflict
LOW
Competition for this position
HIGH
Communication with others
HIGH
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
HIGH
Comfort of the work setting
HIGH
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
LOW
Exposure to job hazards
LOW
Physical demands
LOW
Daily tasks

Prepare technical reports and recommendations, based upon research outcomes.

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.

Investigate the relationship between organisms and disease, including the control of epidemics and the effects of antibiotics on microorganisms.

Examine physiological, morphological, and cultural characteristics, using microscope, to identify and classify microorganisms in human, water, and food specimens.

Supervise biological technologists and technicians and other scientists.

Isolate and maintain cultures of bacteria or other microorganisms in prescribed or developed media, controlling moisture, aeration, temperature, and nutrition.

Provide laboratory services for health departments, community environmental health programs, and physicians needing information for diagnosis and treatment.

Study growth, structure, development, and general characteristics of bacteria and other microorganisms to understand their relationship to human, plant, and animal health.

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.

MAIN ACTIVITIES
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Documenting/Recording Information Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Interacting With Computers Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Analyzing Data or Information Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
AREAS OF KNOWLEDGE
Biology Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Chemistry Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
Mathematics Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Computers and Electronics Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Education and Training Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Administration and Management Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Medicine and Dentistry Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
TOP SKILLS
Science Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
Reading Comprehension Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Writing Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Active Learning Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Monitoring Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.