Microbiology is a dedicated science concerning viruses, bacteria and other microbes. Qualified students of this discipline can pursue a variety of specialized career tracks regarding how microbes affect areas such as human health and food technology. Individuals looking to make microbiology their lifelong career will first need to learn the full scope of the relevant educational requirements, from high school coursework all the way through graduate school.
High School Classes
According to North Dakota State University, high school students aspiring to become microbiologists should do their best to excel in their science and mathematics classes. Good grades in courses such as algebra, physics, chemistry and biology can provide college-bound students with a solid foundation for their undergraduate coursework. To prepare for a college curriculum heavy in science courses, students should strive to take as many high school science classes as possible. To stand out when applying for college, motivated high school students should enroll in as many AP courses as possible, especially when it comes to the sciences.
College students hoping to become microbiologists don't necessarily have to major in microbiology, according to the Career Portal website. However their degree should be in a subject relatable to biological science such as applied biology, molecular biology and applied sciences. A bachelor's degree in one of these fields will qualify students for entry-level microbiology jobs. A standard microbiology-based curriculum will include such courses as virology, pathogenic microbiology, immunology, microbial genetics and bacterial physiology, according to North Dakota State University's College of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Natural Resources.
Students interested in conducting independent microbiological research or working in a university setting will need to pursue a master's of science degree, then possibly a Ph.D, according to Career Portal. Students enrolled in such graduate programs will gain specialized knowledge and experience in their particular field of study while planning and conducting research experiments. Earning a graduate degree can qualify students for careers in private laboratories, university research departments and related government agencies.
As technology and science continues to develop, the need for science-educated graduates keeps growing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for microbiologists is expected to grow by 13 percent between 2010 and 2020. As of 2010, the annual median wage for this career was $65,920; this works out to $31.69 an hour. There are many career tracks available to qualified graduates, including employment in biomedical industries, biotechnology, health sciences, agricultural biosystems and government agencies.
2016 Salary Information for Microbiologists
Microbiologists earned a median annual salary of $66,850 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, microbiologists earned a 25th percentile salary of $48,920, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $97,050, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 23,200 people were employed in the U.S. as microbiologists.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Microbiologists
- Education Portal: Educational Requirements for a Career in Microbiology
- North Dakota State University: College of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Natural Resources: Microbiology
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Microbiologists
- Career Trend: Microbiologists
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