The Job of a Microbiologist

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Biotechnologists use their knowledge of biochemistry, molecular genetics, and microbiology to devise products and processes that enhance human life. The job of a microbiologist is one of the most coveted positions in the field of biotechnology. Microbiologists are placed at the front lines of research and development, and society recognizes their contributions and views them with respect. From fermentation processes to the production of new vaccines, microbiologists contribute to the progress of civilization and secure a better world for us.

Microbiologists study microorganisms like viruses, bacteria, algae, fungi, etc. and observe their relationships and interactions with their environments. They develop medical and industrial solutions from their knowledge of the habits and characteristics of microorganisms.

Microbiologists can specialize into several other fields, all of which fall into the broad field of biotechnology. The further fields of specialization are almost limitless, stretching from pollution control to water supplies. However, some of the most common specializations include:
  • Virology, or the study of viruses



  • Bacteriology, or the study of the characteristics of bacteria and their habits and habitats

  • Immunology, or the study of immune reactions

  • Molecular microbiology, or the study of the functioning of microorganisms at the molecular level

  • Eukaryotic microbiology, or the study of the behavior of unicellular plants and animals

  • Pharmaceutical bacteriology

  • Food microbiology

  • Environmental microbiology
Microbiologists' Duties

Microbiologists provide industry and service solutions by studying the genetic, physiological, and biochemical features of microorganisms. The usual duties of microbiologists involve:
  • Creating microorganism-free sterilized environment and conditions

  • Studying microbe-related diseases, including infectious diseases

  • Isolating and growing study cultures of specific microbes

  • Genetically manipulating and altering the structures of microorganisms to produce beneficial strains

  • Studying, identifying, and classifying microbes

  • Using microbes for gene transfer

  • Detecting microbes in the environment or in substances

  • Studying the roles of microbes in the disease processes of humans and other living beings

  • Studying the factors that cause the occurrence of a disease in the populations of living beings

  • Controlling epidemics and infectious diseases
Microbiologists work closely with other professionals in related fields to offer groundbreaking solutions for humankind and our world.

Microbiologists' Skills

Successful microbiologists usually possess the following skills and qualities:
  • Scientific minds and interest in the workings of nature

  • Excellent communication skills

  • Physical coordination similar to that of a medical surgeon

  • Detail-oriented outlooks

  • Aptitudes for biochemistry and genetics

  • Abilities to meet workloads and project deadlines
Microbiologists' Working Conditions

While most of the work is done inside laboratories and in controlled environments, microbiologists have to work outdoors in order to collect samples and for other field activity. It is extremely important for a microbiologist to maintain and follow safety rules, for microbes are pathogenic and dangerous if they spread unchecked.

Microbiologists' Career Paths

A microbiologist with a B.S. or B.Sc. degree usually starts work as a technologist in a private or public laboratory. People with M.S. degrees or Ph.D.s conduct research, go into academia, or go into clinical or diagnostic microbiology. Work is found usually in laboratories associated with clinical, pathological, or biological research. Microbiologists also favor working as consultants and contract workers.

Additional information:

For additional information in the field of microbiology and occupational prospects visit the American Society for Microbiology, Career Information Education Department, 1752 N St. NW., Washington, DC, 20036 or go to http://www.asm.org.
On the net:Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics Biological Scientists
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