a dark blue TraitLab logo
Sign up

Have an account? Sign in

Career profile Microbiologist

Also known as Bacteriologist, Clinical Laboratory Scientist, Clinical Microbiologist, Microbiological Analyst, Microbiologist, Quality Control Microbiologist (QC Microbiologist)

Microbiologist

Also known as Bacteriologist, Clinical Laboratory Scientist, Clinical Microbiologist

Interests Profile
  • Investigative
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
Pay Range
$45,690 - $156,360 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Science
  • Writing
  • Reading Comprehension
Knowledge Areas
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics
Core tasks
  • Isolate and maintain cultures of bacteria or other microorganisms in prescribed or developed media, controlling moisture, aeration, temperature, and nutrition.
  • Study growth, structure, development, and general characteristics of bacteria and other microorganisms to understand their relationship to human, plant, and animal health.
  • Examine physiological, morphological, and cultural characteristics, using microscope, to identify and classify microorganisms in human, water, and food specimens.
Is Microbiologist the right career path for you?

Would Microbiologist be a good fit for you?

Explore how your personality fits with Microbiologist and hundreds of other career paths.

Create your free account

What does a Microbiologist do?

Microbiologists investigate the growth, structure, development, and other characteristics of microscopic organisms, such as bacteria, algae, or fungi.

In addition, Microbiologists includes medical microbiologists who study the relationship between organisms and disease or the effects of antibiotics on microorganisms.

What kind of tasks does a Microbiologist perform regularly?

Microbiologists are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Isolate and maintain cultures of bacteria or other microorganisms in prescribed or developed media, controlling moisture, aeration, temperature, and nutrition.
  • Study growth, structure, development, and general characteristics of bacteria and other microorganisms to understand their relationship to human, plant, and animal health.
  • Examine physiological, morphological, and cultural characteristics, using microscope, to identify and classify microorganisms in human, water, and food specimens.
  • Provide laboratory services for health departments, community environmental health programs, and physicians needing information for diagnosis and treatment.
  • Prepare technical reports and recommendations, based upon research outcomes.
  • Investigate the relationship between organisms and disease, including the control of epidemics and the effects of antibiotics on microorganisms.
  • Supervise biological technologists and technicians and other scientists.
  • Monitor and perform tests on water, food, and the environment to detect harmful microorganisms or to obtain information about sources of pollution, contamination, or infection.
  • Use a variety of specialized equipment, such as electron microscopes, gas and high-pressure liquid chromatographs, electrophoresis units, thermocyclers, fluorescence-activated cell sorters, and phosphorimagers.
  • Observe action of microorganisms upon living tissues of plants, higher animals, and other microorganisms, and on dead organic matter.

The above responsibilities are specific to Microbiologists. More generally, Microbiologists are involved in several broader types of activities:

Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Documenting/Recording Information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Processing Information
Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.

What is a Microbiologist salary?

The median salary for a Microbiologist is $84,400, and the average salary is $91,840. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Microbiologist salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Microbiologists earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Microbiologists earn less than $45,690 per year, 25% earn less than $58,800, 75% earn less than $119,770, and 90% earn less than $156,360.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Microbiologists is expected to change by 4.7%, and there should be roughly 2,000 open positions for Microbiologists every year.

Median annual salary
$84,400
Typical salary range
$45,690 - $156,360
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
4.7%

What personality traits are common among Microbiologists?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Microbiologist are usually higher in their Investigative and Realistic interests.

Microbiologists typically have very strong Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Also, Microbiologists typically have moderate Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Microbiologist tend to value Recognition, Independence, and Achievement.

Most importantly, Microbiologists strongly value Recognition. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious.

Second, Microbiologists strongly value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Lastly, Microbiologists strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Microbiologists must consistently demonstrate qualities such as attention to detail, integrity, and analytical thinking.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Microbiologists, ranked by importance:

Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Analytical Thinking
Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Cooperation
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.

What education and training do Microbiologists need?

Many Microbiologists have earned a graduate degree. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a doctoral degree, such as a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D..

Microbiologists may need some on-the-job training, but most candidates will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.

Educational degrees among Microbiologists

  • 46.4% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 30.8% earned a Master's degree
  • 22.8% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Microbiologists

Microbiologists may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as biology, chemistry, or mathematics knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Microbiologists might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Biology
Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
Chemistry
Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
Mathematics
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Computers and Electronics
Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Education and Training
Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

Important Abilities needed by Microbiologists

Microbiologists must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Microbiologists need abilities such as written comprehension, inductive reasoning, and written expression in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Microbiologists, ranked by their relative importance.

Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Inductive Reasoning
The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
Written Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Deductive Reasoning
The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

Critical Skills needed by Microbiologists

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Microbiologists frequently use skills like science, writing, and reading comprehension to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Microbiologists, ranked by their relative importance.

Science
Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
Writing
Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.