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Education

What Degree Do You Need To Be A Microbiologist

By David Krug 3 minute read

Overview

Microbiologists are researchers who focus on organisms that are too small to see with the naked eye, such as bacteria and fungi. Additionally, they investigate how microbes interact with their surroundings. Examining the ways in which they harm plants, people, and other creatures is a part of this research. There are many examples of this type of specialty, including immunology (the study of how microbes affect human health). There are some microbiologists who specialize in a particular type of microbe. Bacteriologists and virologists, for example, focus on microorganisms and viruses, respectively. Alternatively, they may pursue a career in biotechnology, medical microbiology, or industrial microbiology.

Education

A bachelor’s degree in microbiology or a related field is required for most microbiologists. Individuals who have a high school diploma or an associate’s degree can apply for some microbiology laboratory technician positions in medical laboratories. It goes without saying that earning a college degree will open the door to more challenging jobs and higher salaries. Master’s and PhD degrees are required for independent research by microbiologists, but academic positions often necessitate a PhD. Student researchers can either work on an existing project or conduct their own original research as part of their degree requirements. Science and microbiology topics are covered extensively in the course work. One or more areas can be chosen by students in their courses and research projects.

An undergraduate degree program at the University of Massachusetts provides this sample of courses:

  • Chemistry as a whole
  • Calculus or Statistical Analysis
  • English
  • Microbiology as a whole
  • In organic chemistry
  • Introductory Physics
  • Immunity to Infectious Diseases
  • Anatomy and Physiology of Microbes

In order to pursue advanced study in microbiology at the graduate level, students must earn a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a concentration in microbiology. Master’s students are given the opportunity to pursue a wide range of interests in environmental microbiology, including microbial genetics, genetic engineering and immunology and immunochemistry.

Student preferences in this field may influence the student’s choice of graduate school. There are a number of programs that focus on Molecular Microbiology, Microbial Pathogenesis, and Environmental Microbiology at Miami University. In addition to immunology, microbial ecology, microbial genetics, microbial physiology, microbial pathogenesis, bacterial cell biology, bioinformatics and medical mycology, virology is also included in this category.

Several universities, such as the University of Wisconsin in Madison, house their graduate programs in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology (MMI). Medical microbiology and immunology are at the heart of their MMI training program, which teaches students the fundamentals while also exposing them to cutting-edge research and clinical applications.

It’s easy to find a Microbiology/Immunology school in the United States. Gradschools.com lists 480 accredited graduate degree programs in biology and life sciences on campus and online (3). Programs can be completed in a variety of ways, from a Certificate to a PhD.

Employment

The median salary for Microbiologists in 2012 was $66,260, with an expected job growth of 7% through 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS reports that this percentage is slightly below the national average for all professions.

It’s possible to find a job in the brewing industry if you’re looking in the wrong places. A position in Microbiology, Biology, or Food Science will be available in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in January 2015 at a major brewer.

David Krug

Author