Microbiologist Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Microbiologist, or Clinical Microbiologist, is responsible for studying microorganisms and how they interact with other living things. Their duties include using laboratory equipment to run tests on bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms, recording their findings in detailed reports and making presentations at conferences and other events about their research findings.

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Microbiologist Duties and Responsibilities

By using computers along with a variety of laboratory instruments to conduct their experiments, microbiologists are responsible for analyzing the growth and behavior patterns of all forms of microorganisms. Some of the duties involved in this role are:

  • Performing laboratory experiments used to diagnose and treat illnesses.
  • Supervise biological technicians and their work to evaluate the accuracy of their results.
  • Isolate bacteria and other microorganism cultures for future study.
  • Classify microorganisms found in collected specimens for future reference.
  • Monitor the effects of microorganisms on animals, plants and the environment.
  • Research the findings of other scientists and attend conferences to stay up-to-date.
  • Publish research papers and technical reports of your findings.
  • Present findings to other scientists, engineers, executives and the public.
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What Does A Microbiologist Do?

Microbiologists typically work for non-profit organizations, government agencies or research facilities to provide beneficial insights into how microorganisms affect different environments, animals and human beings. They work closely with Lab Technicians and other scientific professionals to complete experiments and find cures for different diseases or environmental problems. Their job is to oversee multiple experiments at one time. They also monitor experiments to record changes or determine how long it takes for a microorganism to interact with a specimen. They may also be responsible for traveling to different locations to collect samples for analysis and testing.

Microbiologist Skills and Qualifications

The microbiologist candidate you are looking for should possess a number of skills in order to make them qualified for your company. One of the most important skills for a microbiologist is to be detail-oriented, as they have to be very accurate and precise in their research. They should have an ability to see what others do not. Other preferred skills are:

  • Observation skills as they have to constantly monitor their experiments for behavior patterns.
  • Perseverance so as to not become discouraged through multiple trial and error experiments.
  • Time management skills in order to meet deadlines while also completing a thorough and quality research project.
  • Communication skills to discuss with one another and all others involved in the research and outcome.
  • Math skills to be able to do calculus and statistics that may be involved in their research projects.

Microbiologist Salary Expectations

Based on the statistics submitted to Indeed, the average salary of a microbiologist is $64,895 a year, and the typical tenure is less than one year. This estimate is based on 469 anonymously submitted employee and user salaries, as well as past and present job advertisements.

Microbiologist Education and Training Requirements

For entry-level microbiologists, a bachelor’s degree in microbiology or another closely related field is required. In order to conduct independent research or work in universities, the candidate must have a Ph.D. Since microbiologists must have a thorough understanding of microorganisms and math, the majority of their school courses involve science and math courses. Many Ph.D. holders start in temporary postdoctoral research positions where they work with experienced scientists in order to broaden their understanding of their research.

Microbiologist Experience Requirements

Microbiologist candidates must have previous laboratory experience before getting a job in this position. Most undergraduate programs have a mandatory laboratory requirement, but it’s highly recommended to pursue further experience. For example, by undergoing an internship with a prospective employer, the candidate can gain the additional experience they need. Certifications may be required if entering a field dealing with pharmaceuticals, food safety or medical devices.

Job Description Samples for Similar Positions

If a microbiologist isn’t quite what you are seeking for your company, here are some job descriptions for similar positions that may fill your company needs:

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Frequently asked questions about Microbiologists?


What is the difference between a Microbiologist and a Biochemist?

Biochemists and Microbiologists both aim to get a better understanding of organisms through research and experimentation. However, they differ in their areas of job focus. For example, Microbiologists typically look at the whole microorganism and how these viruses, bacteria and other microorganisms interact with other living things. In contrast, Biochemists study the interior makeup of microorganisms and how they function. They study their chemical compounds and other qualities to determine the types of solutions that would reduce or multiply the organism. 

Another way to differentiate between these two roles is that Microbiologists focus on how microorganisms interact with their hosts or environments. In contrast, Biochemists focus on the inner features that make up a microorganism and manipulate it.


What are the daily duties of a Microbiologist?

On a typical day, a Microbiologist starts by checking on the progress of ongoing experiments. They record changes to living things in response to microorganisms and use laboratory equipment to examine those changes in-depth. Throughout the day, Microbiologists divide their time between starting new experiments, recording changes to existing experiments and compiling results into scholarly articles or reports. They also oversee the daily duties of laboratory technicians and delegate tasks among their team. Microbiologists use downtime during their workday to talk with their team, develop hypotheses or discuss a particular project’s results.


What qualities make a good Microbiologist?

A good Microbiologist has an investigative mindset that inspires them to develop unique hypotheses to drive their research. They enjoy working as a part of a team and value the opinions of their colleagues. This is especially important when Microbiologists reach their professional limitations, as it enables them to rely on others to make ground-breaking discoveries. Further, a good Microbiologist has excellent written and verbal communication. These qualities help them write scholarly articles and reports on their findings or present their findings before a group of professionals. 

A good Microbiologist also looks for ways to improve their knowledge and skill sets by reading about their colleagues’ work and taking on new career challenges.


Who does a Microbiologist report to?

A Microbiologist typically reports to a Senior Microbiologist or the Director of Laboratory Operations within their facility. These individuals act as a point of communication for Microbiologists when they need additional funding or guidance for their experiments.

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