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How Do I Pursue a Microbiology Career?

Maggie Worth
Maggie Worth

Microbiologists are scientists who study organisms that are too small to be seen by the human eye without assistance. To pursue a microbiology career, you must first obtain an advanced education in the subject. While attending a college program, it will be important to consider the type of specialty that interests you as you choose your classes. Once you've graduated, you will need to research job openings and apply for positions that interest you. Once you begin working, you will probably want to perform research on high visibility projects and may publish papers, both of which will help you advance your microbiology career.

The first step toward a microbiology career is education. In general, you will need at least a bachelor's degree, most likely in microbiology, chemistry or biology. In some cases, you may be able to gain employment with only a two-year degree, but there will probably be limits to how far you can go without going back to school. When choosing an undergraduate program, consider the types of classes you will be able to take in comparison to your career goals.

Microbiologists find work in both the public and private sectors.
Microbiologists find work in both the public and private sectors.

You may decide to pursue a graduate degree after obtaining your bachelor's. If you opt for this path, choose a graduate program carefully, as many are structured to prepare you for a microbiology career in a specific area. These include medical laboratories, the food industry, research laboratories, environmental science and academics. For some careers, a doctorate may be desirable, and if you intend to teach at a college or university, it may be required.

Microbiologists may gather water samples to test for harmful microorganisms.
Microbiologists may gather water samples to test for harmful microorganisms.

Throughout your college career, and particularly during graduate school, you will likely have opportunities to participate in research, either as an individual or as part of a group, and to present your findings at conferences and symposiums. You'll want to take advantage of as many such opportunities as possible and to publish papers whenever you have the chance. Also plan to take advantage of any internships offered to you.

A microbiologist may use Petri dishes to study bacteria.
A microbiologist may use Petri dishes to study bacteria.

Once you graduate, you will need to seek out job opportunities and apply for openings to begin your microbiology career. This means you will need a professional resume that highlights your accomplishments, strong references and a cover letter that makes prospective employers want to interview you. You will also need to pass through one or more interviews. In some cases, such as when applying for a job with governmental or military entities, you may need to obtain security clearance. This will require you to pass such scrutiny as credit and criminal history checks.

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    • Microbiologists find work in both the public and private sectors.
      By: Vasiliy Koval
      Microbiologists find work in both the public and private sectors.
    • Microbiologists may gather water samples to test for harmful microorganisms.
      By: cubephoto
      Microbiologists may gather water samples to test for harmful microorganisms.
    • A microbiologist may use Petri dishes to study bacteria.
      By: ggw
      A microbiologist may use Petri dishes to study bacteria.
    • The career path for microbiologists often involves studying environmental science.
      By: eliaskordelakos
      The career path for microbiologists often involves studying environmental science.
    • A bachelor's degree in a science field like chemistry is good preparation for a microbiology career.
      By: kasto
      A bachelor's degree in a science field like chemistry is good preparation for a microbiology career.