In Summary - Microbiologist
Microbiologists typically work in the following Career Sectors:
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The Work - Microbiologist
There are many different types of Microbiologists such as bacteriologists (bacteria), virologists (viruses), mycologists (fungi) and immunologists (the immune system).
Microbiologists study life forms like protozoa, bacteria and viruses that are too small to be seen without using a microscope. These organisms are known as microbes or micro-organisms. Some microbes cause disease but most are harmless, and some can be used to benefit humans. Microbiologists deal with both types of microbe in the water industry.
Other microbiologists work in research laboratories, investigating conditions like AIDS or malaria. They study the structure of microbes, how they reproduce and grow, and the chemical reactions within them. Microbiologists develop drugs and vaccines. Their studies can take years and involve many changes to tests and experiments.
In hospitals, they may find the microbes responsible for a patient's illness. They take a sample of cells from the patient and grow these in a special dish, uncontaminated by any other microbes. The results can help doctors to diagnose and treat illness.
In the pharmaceutical and biochemical industries, microbiologists research, produce and test products like antiseptics, disinfectants, cosmetics, vitamins, antibiotics and vaccines.
In food and drinks companies, microbiologists improve existing products and develop new ones. The process of making beer, wine, bread and yogurt involves micro-organisms. The microbiologist makes sure hygiene standards are maintained and checks the safety of food. They may look for ways to dispose of, or recycle waste safely and economically.
Microbiologists also play an important role in molecular biology and genetic engineering. These techniques can be used to change a microbe so that it works more effectively, or makes a useful product. For example, insulin, which is lacking in people who have diabetes, has been made from genetically engineered bacteria.
Most commonly reported Work Tasks
- Investigate the relationship between organisms and disease including the control of epidemics and the effects of antibiotics on microorganisms.
- Prepare technical reports and recommendations based upon research outcomes.
- Supervise biological technologists and technicians and other scientists.
- Provide laboratory services for health departments, for community environmental health programs and for physicians needing information for diagnosis and treatment.
- Use a variety of specialized equipment such as electron microscopes, gas chromatographs and high pressure liquid chromatographs, electrophoresis units, thermocyclers, fluorescence activated cell sorters and phosphoimagers.
- Examine physiological, morphological, and cultural characteristics, using microscope, to identify and classify microorganisms in human, water, and food specimens.
- Study growth, structure, development, and general characteristics of bacteria and other microorganisms to understand their relationship to human, plant, and animal health.
- Isolate and maintain cultures of bacteria or other microorganisms in prescribed or developed media, controlling moisture, aeration, temperature, and nutrition.
- Observe action of microorganisms upon living tissues of plants, higher animals, and other microorganisms, and on dead organic matter.
- Study the structure and function of human, animal and plant tissues, cells, pathogens and toxins.
Most commonly reported Work Activities
- 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.
- Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Analyzing Data or Information Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Thinking Creatively Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Interests - Microbiologist
This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:
The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with sophiscticated technology. These types prefer mentally stimulating environments and often pay close attention to developments in their chosen field.
Not surprisingly, some aspect of the natural sciences will run through the Naturalist's interests - from ecological awareness to nutrition and health. People with an interest in horticulture, land usage and farming (including fish) are Naturalists.
Some Naturalists focus on animals rather than plants, and may enjoy working with, training, caring for, or simply herding them. Other Naturalists will prefer working with the end result of nature's produce - the food produced from plants and animals. Naturalists like solving problems with solutions that show some sensitivity to the environmental impact of what they do. They like to see practical results and prefer action to talking and discussing.
Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.
Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
As a microbiologist, you will need the ability to plan and do practical experiments, using technical equipment and computers. Be able to identify, select, organise and communicate information.
You will need a logical approach to problem solving, and must be accurate, methodical, patient and with analytical skills. Good written and oral communication skills are needed to present your findings, and work on your own or as part of a team.
Entry Requirements - Microbiologist
Pay & Salary - Microbiologist
Salary Range (thousands per year)* 28k - 55k
Last Updated: February, 2017
* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.
Labour Market Updates - Microbiologist
While the supply of graduates appears to be sufficient to meet the annual recruitment requirement (5,500 graduates in 2017), the demand is arising for roles for those with a high level of experience and/or in niche areas. The demand is for a small number of people given the relatively small size of this occupation (approx. 1% of total employment) and in the areas associated with pharmaceuticals, biopharma and food development.
National Skills Bulletin 2018