Varying Opportunities as a Microbiologist

Professional Career Path
Microbiology is the study of organisms of microscopic size, including bacteria, protozoa, viruses, and certain algae and fungi which affect every aspect of life on Earth. They have amazing diversity of form and can live in a wide range of habitats ranging from hot springs to the human body and the depths of the ocean. Although some microbes cause diseases, like measles, meningitis or AIDS, the majority are completely harmless. In fact these small life forms are essential to the cycling of nutrients in the ecosystems of the planet. .




We study microbiology because bacteria, viruses and fungi are the leading cause of death in the history of mankind.Tiny and virtually invisible microbes studied by microbiologists have had a tremendous impact on society since the earliest days of recorded history. Bacteria, viruses and fungi have been responsible for the downfall of governments, famine, and death on an almost incalculable scale. It has only been in the last one hundred years that we have finally begun to win the age old battle with these small and deadly bugs.


Before bacteria and viruses were discovered, people believed that disease arose spontaneously in diseased tissues. No one had any idea that infections were caused by very small living organisms. Microbiology is a vast subject which overlaps with other life sciences such as genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology and even engineering. Microbiologists can be found at work in many different places, but they are normally based in a laboratory. As there are many different types of microbes there are many different types of microbiologists: bacteriologists, mycologists (who study fungi) and virologists - all working within even smaller areas of specialisation; the variations are endless!




Food, pharmaceutical, agrochemical, biotechnological, biorefinery, environmental, pollution control and bioremediation, companies all need microbiologists to develop new products, monitor the production of existing ones and solve problems.

In the Field

Agriculture - environmental and health specialists study the role of microbes in plant disease, pest control, nutrition and soil fertility, or monitor and control pollution and devise biological waste treatment approaches. The field of mariculture also relies on microbiologists to monitor production and solve problems.

Medicine & Health Care

Hospitals, public health laboratories, research institutes and pharmaceutical companies offer work in diagnosis, prevention and treatment of illnesses associated with microbes.

Education & Research

Universities and colleges, as well as medical, dental and veterinary schools, all employ microbiologists as researchers and teachers. The training is also ideal for would-be science teachers in schools.