- Research and develop medical or commercial applications for micro-organisms
- Work in a scientific environment in industry, healthcare or in a university
- A field with excellent prospects and where new breakthroughs are being made
As a microbiologist, you could work in an area like: healthcare, as a clinical microbiologist, helping to prevent the spread of infection; research and development for the pharmaceutical and food industries; agriculture; education; or in biotechnology industries.
- Monitoring, identifying and helping to control infectious diseases
- Using molecular biology techniques to develop and test new medicines and treatments
- Investigating how microorganisms produce antibodies, vaccines, hormones and other biotechnology products
- Assessing the use of microbes in food production, crop protection and soil fertility
- Monitoring the quality and safety of manufactured food and medical products
- Using microorganisms to control pollution and dispose of waste safely
You may also present research findings, supervise the work of support staff, or carry out administrative tasks.
You could work at a university or in a laboratory.
To be a microbiologist, you'll need knowledge of biology and maths, thoroughness and attention to detail, thinking, reasoning and analytical thinking skills, and excellent verbal and written communication skills.
You could do a degree in a subject like microbiology, biology, or biological science. Some employers might ask for a relevant postgraduate qualification and work experience. You could also do an integrated postgraduate master's qualification like a MBiolSci, MBiol, or MSci. These courses include independent research and can lead onto further postgraduate study for a PhD.
You may be able to start by doing a laboratory scientist higher or degree apprenticeship.
You could also get into microbiology by working your way up from a laboratory technician job, where you would usually study part-time for a relevant science degree or degree apprenticeship while you work.
Work experience will improve your job prospects - through the NHS, part of a sandwich degree course, or through placement with a company during the holidays.
With experience, you could move into lab management, research or teaching. In the NHS you could progress to specialist, team manager, or consultant. You could also offer consultancy services in areas like pharmaceutical sales, publishing and law.