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STEM Career Spotlight: Microbiologist

By Rital Miller

Microbiologists work to study microscopic organisms such as bacteria, viruses, algae, fungi, slime molds, protozoa, and more. They study microbiology to record and understand how these organisms grow, live, and interact in different environments. This is utilized when developing new medicines, vaccines, and other methods to prevent the spread of diseases.

To best prepare yourself for studying microbiology in college, it is important to understand calculus and statistics by taking these classes in high school. Calculus plays a key role in modeling biological systems. It can also be used to determine the shrinkage or growth of the number of cells in a cancerous tumor. Another important example is the ability to measure the exact growth rate in bacteria when variables such as food source and temperature change. Statistics is important because microbiologists, and most biologists in general, need to demonstrate competency in creating and interpreting graphs, mathematically modeling systems, and statistically analyzing data. Another additional class you can take is anatomy and physiology, which deals with understanding the physical parts of humans. This can be important if you want to connect microbiology to medical studies like curing diseases. It is important to understand the human body and how it reacts to different things like diseases.

In college, microbiologists will typically need a bachelor's degree in microbiology or a related field such as biology or natural resources with courses that have a substantial curriculum in microbiology. Some studies include courses in microbial genetics, microbial physiology, environmental microbiology, and virology. A Doctoral or Medical degree is generally required for higher positions in microbiology. A Ph.D. requires at least a bachelor's degree with 1-2 years of coursework and a thesis project based on original research. All this combined could take 6-8 years to complete. A higher degree allows you to perform independent research, teach undergraduate and graduate students, and assume executive-level positions.

The median annual salary for microbiologists in 2021 was $79,260. But the salary can range based on the position you undertake. Microbiology lab technicians on average make $44,958 while a microbiologist research scientist can make up to $245,000. In between that range, there are many other jobs like bacteriologist, medical laboratory scientist, biological scientist, quality control microbiologist, microbiologist research assistant, clinical microbiologist, and so much more. Within these careers, there are endless tasks that you can do. Some study and analyze different bacteria and fungi to determine whether they are harmful or not. Some meet with patients and identify any infectious diseases, viruses, and parasites they may be carrying. They then can study how that disease works and study medicine to find possible cures. Some microbiologists will take these possible cures and test them to see how effective they are in different situations. And most importantly, microbiologists will record and document their findings, whether it is on a new disease, a patient’s illness, or simply what they accomplished in their lab for a day.

Works Cited

Aikens, Melissa L, et al. “The Case for Biocalculus: Improving Student Understanding of

the Utility Value of Mathematics to Biology and Affect toward Mathematics.” CBE Life

Sciences Education, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mar. 2021, https://www.ncbi.


Lontok, Katherine. “Careers in Microbiology and the Microbial Sciences.”, 12 Nov.


Microbial Sciences#:~:text=A%20Doctoral%20or%20Medical%20Degree,and%20assu

me%20executive%2Dle vel%20responsibilities.

“Microbiologists : Occupational Outlook Handbook.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, 8 Sept. 2022,



“Microbiologist.” Unity College, 14 Nov. 2022,

2/#: ~:text=Depending%20on%20the%20level%20of,years%20to%20become%20a%20


W., Joannah. “10 Highest Paying Microbiology Jobs to Consider 2023.” SCI Journal, 2 Oct.


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