Careers in Microbiology

montage of photos related to microbiology including a petrie dish, microbes seen through a microscope and test tubes

What does a microbiologist do?

Microbiologists study the interaction of microorganisms with people, how microorganisms may impact human lives, as well as the roles of microorganisms in the environment.  Microbiologists may work in hospitals, government agencies, university, and private laboratories, as well as in many industries such as pharmaceutical, food, and biotech.

What career opportunities exist for microbiologists?

The career options depend on an individual’s education, training, and work experience.  A Bachelor of Science degree in the Microbiology option will qualify an individual for many technical, research, and clinical positions.  Our baccalaureate graduates have successfully secured the following types of positions:

  • Research assistant / Lab technician
  • Food, industrial or environmental microbiologist
  • Sales or technical representatives
  • Medical, clinical, and veterinary microbiologists.

In addition to these technical or laboratory positions, combining microbiology with another discipline such as education, business, and communication will offer wider career choices, which may include high school teaching, scientific sales, and scientific writing.

A masters degree will allow an individual to pursue similar positions but with more responsibilities such as a lab supervisor, or an instructor at a community or junior college.  With a doctorate degree, an individual will be qualified to conduct independent research, teach in a university with undergraduate and/or graduate programs and pursue administrative positions in government and industry.

How much does a microbiologist earn?

Data from the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, showed that the “median annual wage of microbiologists was $65,920 in May 2010. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $39,180, and the top 10 percent earned more than $115,720.”

Graph illustrating microbiologist earnings compared to national average and that of other careers in the biological sciences

Graph illustrating microbiologist earnings compared to national average and that of other careers in the biological sciences. Courtesy


Job Outlook

Microbiologist job outlook as compared to national average

Comparison of microbiology job outlook as compared with the national average and job growth in the biological sciences. Courtesy


“Employment of microbiologists is projected to increase by 13 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations”