Inside Microbiologist Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"How Necessary More Education Is For Career Advancement...
I was surprised at how difficult it would be to work with other scientists and engineers rather than the bisques and art/science students I mostly interacted with as an undergrad. I was also surprised in how difficult it would be to move up in the field with out a PhD or a transfer to the business aspects." (Research Scientist; 2014)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Colorado, male
School: Studied Molecular, Cellular, And Developmental Biology (MCDB) at University Of Colorado At Boulder in Colorado; completed Bachelor degree in 2010

"Science Is Boring With Low Pay...
Work is very routine in a biotech company, and you don't fully use your brain sometimes. You work long hours, and the pay is not as high as you might expect." (Scientist; 2014)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Illinois, female
School: Studied Microbiology at University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign in Illinois; completed Doctorate degree in 2010

"Lots Of On The Job Training Required...
I was surprised by the openness of the lab environment, although all the procedures must be strictly followed, there is a lot of room for "doing your own thing". I was also surprised by how much on the job training there was, I was familiar with the procedures however I was still required to relearn them." (Microbiologist; 2014)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Michigan, male
School: Studied Microbiology at Michigan State University in Michigan; completed Bachelor degree in 2011

"Don't Need A Degree In Microbiology...
I was surprised at how little science I actually apply to my job. I can teach anyone how to do my job, regardless of their knowledge of microbiology. It is more about ability to follow procedure and dealing with red tape and regulations. The identification piece that we all learn In college is lost in my field." (QC Microbiologist; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Massachusetts, male
School: Studied Microbiology at University Of Massachusetts Amherst in Massachusetts; completed Bachelor degree in 2011

"I was surprised to discover that you could teach someone off of the street to do the research that I do with a Master's degree. This is due to the fact that much of the research is conducted through the usage of machines, and although someone without the educational background wouldn't understand what they where reading, they would be able to conduct many of the experiments I do with little or no education." (Laboratory Technician; 2013)

Career: 5 years of experience, currently based in Florida, female
School: Studied Micro And Molecular Biology at UCF in Florida; completed Bachelor degree in 2007

"I was surprised that a wildlife biology degree would allow me to maintain a career in microbiology. I had started as a microbiology tech and once I received my degree, I was promoted to head microbiologist of the lab I had been working for while earning my degree. I was also surprised to see that many of the wildlife biology positions that are open require a lot of experience beyond school." (Microbiologist; 2012)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Wyoming, female
School: Studied Wildlife Fisheries Biology And Management at University Of Wyoming in Wyoming; completed Bachelor degree in 2012

Best & Worst Things About This Career

Microbiologist: "I love the people I work with. We come from different backgrounds and are all different ages but we all enjoy what we're doing and we work together well. I also like the fact that every day is not the same. Some days I'm out in the lab more, helping with a new project, while other days I'm at my computer, analyzing data or looking at literature. I don't like some of the administrative software I have to work with. You would think the government would have the best software available to do its day-to-day business, but that isn't the case." (2009)

Career Background


  Job Tasks
  Work Environment
  How to Prepare for the Job
  Job Outlook

Career Video

Career Tips

"Make Connections And Network, Work In Campus Lab For Experience...
make connections with the professors and teaching assistant so that you have a network of professionals to work off of in order to bounce ideas off of or a reference for finding a job after graduation. There are plenty of opportunities to work in a research lab regardless of the direction you want to take which will give you a better understanding of the things that you are learning in class." (Research Scientist; 2014)

"Network With Scientists, Understand What They Feel...
Talk to scientists about their training and background and how that helped them decide what path to take outside of academia." (Scientist; 2014)

"Internships Are Necessary...
Try to find an internship while still in college so that you have lab experience before graduating." (Microbiologist; 2014)

"Challenge Yourself With Tough Science Courses...
1: Take a variety of science classes in college to give yourself at least a grounding in a lot of different scientific disciplines and if you're in high school, take the hardest science classes you can; you'll be glad you did when you're in college. 2: Don't go straight to grad school from college. Work for a couple of years to give yourself a break from school, to get some really good experience, and to give you a better idea what area you might want to focus on. 3: Find people on the internet or in your community that have jobs you might like. Email them, talk to them, find out about what they do and see if it sounds interesting to you. Sometimes it's hard to translate a job to a specific school major." (Microbiologist; 2009)