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What Does a Microbiologist Do?

By Yann, published on 26/02/2019 We Love Prof - AU > Academia > Biology > A Simple Description of a Microbiologist

“Microbiology is usually regarded as having no relevance to the feelings and aspirations of the man of flesh and bone. Yet, never in my professional life do I find myself far removed from the man of flesh and bone. It is not only because microbes are ubiquitous in our environment, and therefore must be studied for the sake of human welfare.” -René Dubos

If you’re like me, when you first heard the term microbiology in secondary school you were utterly dumbfounded. It’s not a word you hear used in everyday conversation. Nonetheless, microbiology is briefly taught in the last years of secondary school and to gain a further understanding of this complex biological science discipline; interested ones must attend higher education classes.

However, what is microbiology? 

Microbiology is a necessary academic discipline that includes the study of all living organisms that are too small to be visible with the naked eye; this includes bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa, and algae which are all collectively known as microbes. 

Since the study of microbes is essential uncovering important discoveries, microbiologists are needed continuously in today’s world. Therefore, in today’s article, we will briefly consider the basic description of a microbiologist for those who want to pursue a career in microbiology, the benefits of studying microbiology at a further education level, the best microbiology programmes offered in the UK, and the absolute best jobs available to microbiologists.

A Basic Description of a Microbiologist

finding a cure to diseases Microbiologists spend a lot of time in a lab with their best friend the microscope conducting necessary research. (Source: pixabay)

Microbiologists have a passion for the scientific world, are analytical, and use experimental techniques to monitor and study the microbes such as algae, bacteria, fungi, and viruses.

A laboratory is the most common workplace of a microbiologist, and their work tasks are varied from day to day. Some of their key responsibilities include the following:

  • Planning and carrying out clinical trials,
  • Developing new pharmaceutical products such as vaccines, medicines, and antiseptics,
  • Collecting samples of organic matter from a wide variety of locations,
  • Writing research papers, and conducting seminars to instruct the general public and coworkers about their research,
  • Managing laboratories,
  • Observing high health and safety standards in the community and the workplace.

Microbiologists have a wide range of employers such as public or private organisations, hospitals, and food & drink manufacturers. 

A microbiologist undergoes many years of academic education followed by professional training to be up to date with the latest developments in biological sciences and to hone their skills to ensure job success.

Essential skills needed and exercised by those who pursue a career as a microbiologist include patience, attention to detail, independence, outstanding IT skills, teamworking skills, and communication skills. Successful implementation or acquisition of these skills make recent graduates of microbiology some of the best candidates for the most sought after jobs in the industry.

Famous microbiologists such as Edward Jenner, the creator of the first smallpox vaccination, Alexander Fleming, the man who discovered penicillin, and Harald zur Hausen, the man who discovered the connection between the papillomavirus and cervical cancer, have all been hailed modern-day heroes for their brilliant discoveries in the scientific field of microbiology. 

The work of a microbiologist is extremely important since future discoveries in microbiology may create life-saving drugs and find solutions to maintaining food, water and energy on our ailing planet that will eventually secure the safety of generations to come.

Microbiologist are necessary members of the workforce that should never be taken for granted; who knows there scientific discoveries may save us one day!

The Benefits of Studying Microbiology

the best microbiologists Microbiologists work hard to find cures and remedies for all sorts of diseases. (Source: pixabay)

If you enjoy revising the scientific topics of biochemistry, biotechnology, genomics, and ecology, a career as a microbiologist is the perfect fit!

However, it is important to state that since many microbiologists work under a microscope in laboratories far from the public eye, they rarely receive the recognition they deserve for the hard work that they accomplish; unless they cure a disease!

Nevertheless, science enthusiasts should not shy away from a career as a microbiologist. There are many benefits and rewarding experiences to be had as a researcher in the field of microbiology. The following are some of the main reasons pre-university students should decide upon a career in microbiology:

  • The Opportunity of Conducting Meaningful Research: if a dedicated microbiologist has the opportunity of working in a state of the art laboratory that is backed by a private organisation or government entity with endless funds, amazing things can be discovered. Microbiologists analyse microbes that are essential to solving major environmental and health problems that plague millions. Creating a new vaccine, finding ways to filter clean water, and cleaning up pollution are all goals that can be accomplished as a microbiologist. We hear so much about Marvel characters in spandex saving the world; however, who knew modern-day heroes are microbiologists in lab coats?
  • A Better Understanding of the Planet We Live On: through their constant investigation of microbes, microbiologists develop a thorough understanding of the microorganisms featured on our planet that are invisible to the naked eye. By analysing cells, a microbiologist discovers the organisms that are necessary for life on earth.

It is also important that the salary of a microbiologist is quite lucrative and, to conclude, the scientific subject of microbiology is continuously intriguing and better than any desk job at a boring office!

Check out Superprof’s additional articles about biology to learn the benefits of reviewing forensic biology, studying wildlife biology, and understanding more about the concepts of biological engineering.

Microbiology Programmes Offered in the United Kingdom

Since the United Kingdom has an approximate population of 66 million, there are various universities and colleges where further education programmes, in a wide variety of academic disciplines, are conducted.

Renowned academic institutes in the UK include the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, and the Imperial College London. 

Therefore, to meet the demands of scientifically minded individuals, microbiology can be studied in various academic institutes throughout the UK. The following are Superprof’s most highly recommended universities to acquire further understanding of microbiology:

  • Imperial College London: one of the most renowned universities in the UK offers a BSc (Hons) in microbiology and students reviewing this course at the Imperial College London focus their study on all types of microorganisms to grasp the theoretical and practical skills needed to have a successful career in microbiology. This full-time microbiology course that is located on the South Kensington campus has a duration of three years. Each year students review new concepts of microbiology such as cell biology and genetics, applied molecular biology, bacterial physiology, medical microbiology, and epidemiology. Check out the Imperial College London’s website to revise essential information before applying,
  • The University of Manchester: the BSc (Hons) in microbiology has students review the biology of bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi in a laboratory setting. According to the 2018 QS World University Rankings, the University of Manchester is ranked seventh in the UK for biological sciences. Before deciding if this university and this programme is the right fit for you, attend an open day. Take a peek at the University of Manchester’s informative website to analyse what modules are reviewed each year, the course fees, the correct qualifications needed, and entry requirements to study microbiology,
  • University of Surrey: the BSc (Hons) microbiology course is a great choice for students since it has been highly ranked for biological sciences in the UK. There is the option of taking this programme for three or four years; the only difference is that the four-year programme includes professional training. Many careers prospects are open to students reviewing microbiology at the University of Surrey since the information attained is world-class and the Royal Society of Biology recognises it. Check out their website to read more about the undergraduate curriculum from this microbiology course.

Since microbiology is a sought after further education course, there are many academic institutes offering microbiology courses for budding microbiologists; the options mentioned above are only some of the most highly recommended. Do your research and find a course that suits your learning style and correctly equips you for your occupation before settling.

To learn more about other biological subjects, take a look at Superprof’s well-written article about four distinct types of biology.

The Best Jobs Available for Microbiologists

the best employees Employers appreciate applicants with degrees since they have spent time honing their skills and developing necessary abilities that are invaluable in the workforce. (Source: pixabay)

Alright, so you graduated from university with honours and have your degree in microbiology, now what?

Therefore, without further ado, to keep recent university grads far away from unemployment, Superprof has done their research and found the best jobs available for recent graduates of microbiology. The following are some of the best work opportunities directly related to a degree in microbiology:

  • Biomedical scientist,
  • Biotechnologist,
  • Medicinal chemist,
  • Nanotechnologist,
  • Microbiologist,
  • Water quality scientist,
  • Technical brewer.

Neverthertheless, it is important to note that there are many employers, outside the scientific sector, that are drawn to individuals with a microbiology degree since they have spent years practising their scientific, analytical, and problem-solving skills. 

Consequently, if after studying microbiology for a couple of years you decide that you need a break, here are some of the best employment possibilities for certified microbiologists that are not directly related to their expertise:

  • Environmental engineer,
  • Forensic scientist,
  • Marine biologist,
  • Physician associate,
  • Science writer.

Remember that most employers are open to a wide variety of applicants that have degrees in other subjects so don’t limit yourself to the previously mentioned jobs, there are many more to choose. It is important to note that a well-balanced employer highly values relevant work experience, training, and honed skills.

A career in the field of microbiology is a profession that comes highly recommended for those who have a scientific mind, enjoy diversity, and want to be continuously engaged at their place of employment.

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