Microbiologist job profile | Prospects.ac.uk (2023)

Microbiologists study microorganisms (microbes) in order to understand how they affect our lives and how we can exploit them

By understanding microbes, microbiologists aim to solve a range of problems affecting our health, the environment, climate and food and agriculture. This can include the prevention, diagnosis and control of infections and disease, as well as ensuring that food is safe, understanding the role that microbes play in climate change, and developing green technologies.

As a microbiologist, you'll focus on the biology of microorganisms at both the molecular and cellular level, as well as their ecology, including viruses, bacteria, archaea, fungi, algae and protozoa. You may work in:

  • hospitals
  • agriculture
  • pharmaceuticals
  • biotechnology
  • education
  • the environment.

Types of microbiologist

Microbiology is a vast subject which overlaps with other areas of life sciences, such as molecular biology, immunology and biochemistry.

Specialist areas include:

  • medicine
  • healthcare
  • research and development
  • agriculture and food safety
  • environment and climate change.

Find out more about what microbiologists do.


Tasks vary depending on your area of specialism. For example, clinical scientists working in microbiology will be involved in preventing, diagnosing and controlling the spread of infections, whereas those working in manufacturing may be involved in quality control, checking for signs of contamination.

Depending on your area of expertise, you'll typically need to:

  • monitor and identify microorganisms
  • track microorganisms in a range of environments
  • monitor and assess samples from a range of sources
  • follow regular sampling schedules within a specific environment
  • use a variety of identification methods, including molecular techniques, to test samples
  • develop new techniques, products and processes
  • develop and plan methods to prevent the spread of disease
  • develop and register new medicines, vaccines, diagnostic tests and pharmaceutical products
  • plan, implement and evaluate new products in clinical trials
  • collect samples from different types of environments, such as agricultural sites
  • develop products such as enzymes, vitamins, hormones and antimicrobials
  • grow microbial cultures, e.g. for use in the food and drink industry or in agriculture
  • work with specialist computer software to undertake studies and research
  • manage and oversee laboratory work.

You may also need to:

(Video) Top Jobs after M.Sc. Microbiology | M.Sc. Microbiology Jobs

  • plan and organise resources and activities
  • maintain accurate and up-to-date records
  • write up research findings and produce reports
  • keep up with new research
  • attend and present at national and international conferences and other events
  • liaise with colleagues from non-scientific departments
  • supervise support staff
  • tutor, supervise and mentor students (if working as a university lecturer or in a teaching hospital)
  • provide information and advice to colleagues and external bodies.


  • Jobs in the NHS for microbiologists working as clinical scientists are usually covered by the Agenda for Change (AfC) pay rates, consisting of nine pay bands. Trainee clinical scientists are usually employed at Band 6, on a starting salary of £32,306.
  • Once qualified, you're likely to be employed on Band 7 (£40,057 to £45,839). Salaries for principal and consultant scientists range from £47,126 (Band 8) to £108,075 (Band 9), depending on your experience and training.
  • Salaries for higher education lecturers in microbiology usually follow a nationally agreed pay spine. See the University and College Union (UCU) website for details of the HE pay spine.
  • Research and development work in pharmaceutical firms, public health laboratories and medical research council units tends to attract higher salaries.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

You'll usually work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, although if you're working as a clinical scientist in the NHS you may be on call.

Larger employers may provide flexible working schemes.

Part-time work is possible.

What to expect

  • The work is generally laboratory-based in pathology departments or diagnostic laboratories in hospitals, although there are opportunities in other types of work environments. You'll usually need to wear protective clothing such as gloves, coat and safety glasses.
  • You'll often work as part of a small team on projects and will usually be responsible for managing your own workload.
  • Contract and temporary work is available at graduate and technician level within a number of sectors.
  • Research work can provide more variety than that of routine identification or monitoring, which may be more structured.
  • You may need to travel during the day for meetings or on-site visits. You may also travel throughout the UK and abroad to attend conferences and take part in collaborative research.


You'll need a good honours degree in a relevant subject to become a microbiologist. Relevant degrees include:

  • microbiology
  • microbial sciences
  • biomedical sciences
  • molecular biology
  • applied biology
  • biological sciences
  • biology (specialising in microbiology).

Courses such as biological sciences or applied biology provide a wide-ranging background prior to having to make choices about specialist areas.

Some employers look for a postgraduate qualification such as a Masters or PhD. To work as a microbiology researcher in a university, you'll need a PhD in a relevant area of microbiology. Integrated postgraduate Masters qualifications such as the MBiol, MBiolSci or MSci may be particularly useful if you want to go onto a PhD.

To work as a clinical scientist in microbiology, you need to successfully complete the NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP). This leads to eligibility to apply for a Certificate of Attainment from the Academy for Healthcare Science, which allows registration as a clinical scientist with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC). As part of the training, you'll complete an MSc in Clinical Science (Microbiology - Infection Sciences). For full details about applying for the STP, see the National School of Healthcare Science (NSHCS). There are separate scientist training schemes in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Other routes to HCPC registration as a clinical scientist are offered by the:

You can also train as a biomedical scientist.

(Video) Microbiologists - Career Profile

If you don't have a degree, it may be possible to enter the profession in a laboratory technician role and gain experience and further qualifications to become a microbiologist. You may also be able to get into a career in microbiology via a higher or degree apprenticeship.

For more information on a career as a microbiologist, see the Microbiology Society.


You'll need to have:

  • the ability to design and plan research investigations and experiments
  • interpersonal skills, as you may have contact with patients in some roles
  • communication skills, to liaise with colleagues and the wider community
  • the capacity to manage a laboratory project and collaborate with a wide variety of technical colleagues
  • the ability to work well in a team and to manage your own workload
  • problem-solving skills
  • accuracy and a methodical approach to work
  • organisational skills and attention to detail
  • leadership qualities
  • self-motivation and the ability to work with minimal supervision
  • a good level of numeracy and IT skills.

Work experience

Having experience in a laboratory is useful when applying for jobs. If your degree doesn't include a year out in industry or research, consider taking a research project over the summer. Some companies provide funding to support research work in laboratories over the summer. Contact your careers service for information on these opportunities and other internships.

A number of organisations offer funding for students wanting to get hands-on experience during the summer vacation. These include:

Student membership of a professional body such as the Microbiology Society or the SfAM will show your commitment and provide valuable networking and career development opportunities.

Details of pharmaceutical companies you can contact about work experience or work shadowing opportunities are available on The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) website. Search pharmaceutical recruiters.

You can also contact your local hospital laboratory about work experience or work shadowing opportunities.

Find out more about the different kinds of work experience and internships that are available.


Microbiologists work in a range of fields. One of the largest is research and analysis, where employers include:

(Video) Microbiologist Interview Questions and Answer Examples

You can also work in the manufacturing industry for employers such as:

  • pharmaceutical, biochemical, biotechnology and agri-chemical companies
  • food, beverage and bioscience manufacturers
  • food safety organisations, including the Food Standards Agency
  • health, home and personal care product manufacturers.

Jobs can also be found in the environment sector where employers include:

Look for job vacancies at:

Specialist recruitment agencies, such as Jobs in Science and SRG, also advertise vacancies.

Professional development

Training opportunities will depend on your specialist area and on individual employers. In some jobs, salary increases may be available on completion of training. On-the-job training may be related to specific equipment or techniques within your specialist area. Training on new equipment may be delivered by the manufacturers.

Continuing professional development (CPD) is essential for keeping up to date with developing research, and microbiologists are expected to gain further relevant qualifications. CPD activities can include attending events and conferences, mentoring, teaching and having papers published. Professional bodies such as the Microbiology Society and SfAM offer training on topics related to your area of specialism.

Larger organisations, particularly those involved in research, may provide training and development opportunities for their staff. This may involve undertaking further qualifications such as a Masters degree or a PhD if you don't already have one.

If you're working as a clinical scientist in microbiology, you may train to become a consultant clinical scientist via the NHS Higher Specialist Scientific Training (HSST) programme. This bespoke five-year, workplace-based training programme includes study at doctoral level at a standard similar to medical speciality training and leads to the award of Certificate of Completion of Higher Specialist Scientist Training (CCHSST) issued by the NSHCS.

Career prospects

There are generally good opportunities for career progression. In the NHS, it's possible to move from practitioner, to specialist, to team manager and then consultant. At more senior levels, you'll be involved in staff management with more responsibility for the work of the laboratory.

In some fields, you may need to be geographically mobile in order to progress. Specialisation in your degree course or in your choice of first job may affect your future career options.

(Video) Microbiologist | 2020 | PR / Immigration requirements for Australia

Research in specialist areas such as bacteriology, virology, mycology and parasitology is possible, working with clinical colleagues or microbiologists working in industry.

Networking at all levels is part of successful career development and will help increase your career prospects. It's important to maintain a professional profile by presenting research at meetings, undertaking work exchanges abroad and applying for research grants.

Experienced microbiologists may progress into other fields of work that benefit from their specialist knowledge, such as pharmaceutical sales and marketing, patent work, teaching, scientific publishing or the legal profession.

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Are microbiologists in demand in UK? ›

There are about 550 bioscience companies in the UK employing more than 40,000 people, many of whom are microbiologists. Clusters of bioscience companies are found in Oxford, Cambridge, London, Edinburgh and Nottingham. The demand for microbiologists is increasing.

What are the job prospects for microbiology? ›

Career Opportunities for Microbiology Majors
  • Research laboratory technician.
  • Quality control analyst.
  • Clinical microbiologist or immunologist*
  • Food or dairy microbiologist.
  • Environmental microbiologist.
  • Recombinant DNA technologist.
  • Fermentation technologist.
  • Research scientist.

Is there a demand for microbiologists? ›

Employment of microbiologists is projected to grow 9 percent from 2021 to 2031, faster than the average for all occupations.

Is there a demand for microbiologists in the future? ›

Employment of microbiologists is projected to grow 5 percent from 2020 to 2030, slower than the average for all occupations. Despite limited employment growth, about 2,000 openings for microbiologists are projected each year, on average, over the decade.

Is UK good for microbiology? ›

There are top MSc microbiology universities in UK that offer top quality education. After completing masters in microbiology in UK, students can work on different job roles and areas including clinical engineering, cellular, biomechanics, etc.

Are microbiologists paid well in UK? ›

Trainee clinical scientists are usually employed at Band 6, on a starting salary of £32,306. Once qualified, you're likely to be employed on Band 7 (£40,057 to £45,839). Salaries for principal and consultant scientists range from £47,126 (Band 8) to £108,075 (Band 9), depending on your experience and training.

Where can a microbiologist work in UK? ›

Job options
  • Academic researcher.
  • Biomedical scientist.
  • Biotechnologist.
  • Clinical research associate.
  • Clinical scientist, immunology.
  • Food technologist.
  • Medicinal chemist.
  • Microbiologist.

Which country is best for microbiology jobs? ›

Best countries to study microbiology
  • Microbiology in USA.
  • Microbiology in New Zealand.
  • Microbiology in UK.
  • Microbiology in Canada.
  • Microbiology in Ireland.
  • Microbiology in Lebanon.
  • Microbiology in Grenada.
  • Microbiology in Finland.

How long does it take to become a microbiologist UK? ›

After your CMT or ACCS, training to be a consultant medical microbiologist takes four years if you're training full-time. You'll spend two years in Combined Infection Training, and two years of higher specialty training in medical microbiology.

Which field of microbiology is best? ›

The possible job profiles that you can enjoy working in are:
  • Biomedical Scientist.
  • Clinical Research Associate.
  • Microbiologist.
  • Pharmacologist.
  • Food Technologist.
  • Scientific Laboratory Technician.
  • Physician Associate.
  • Research Scientist.
25 Mar 2020

Is microbiology a good career in future? ›

Job outlook for Microbiologist is positive.”

There are various options available to you after studying for a Microbiology degree. You can choose to stay in education & do a master degree or Ph. D. in microbiology.

Are microbiologists highly paid? ›

can expect the most salary in California, where they receive an average job salary of just about $116,630.

Which field in microbiology has highest salary? ›

10 Highest Paying Microbiology Jobs to Consider
  • #6. Microbiology Research Assistant.
  • #5. Quality Control Microbiologist.
  • #4. Biological and Medical Scientists.
  • #3. Medical Laboratory Scientists.
  • #2. Bacteriologist.
  • #1. Microbiology Research Scientist.
  • Conclusion.
  • Similar articles.
2 Oct 2022

Which microbiology job has highest salary? ›

The top 5 highest paying jobs who knows Microbiology with reported salaries are: general manager - ₹31lakhs per year. principal investigator - ₹25lakhs per year. head - ₹23lakhs per year.

Which field of microbiology has more scope? ›

Not being limited to just one, here are the most in-demand fields and areas where the scope of microbiology is visibly high: Food Microbiology. Environmental Science. Healthcare and Medicine.

Which field is best in UK? ›

Ten UK Degrees which are Ranked the Best in the World
  1. MBA. MBA is the most sought after course today.
  2. Civil Engineering. ...
  3. Law. ...
  4. Medicine. ...
  5. Computer Science. ...
  6. Psychology. ...
  7. Education. ...
  8. Architecture. ...
28 Sept 2022

Can I get a job in UK after BSC microbiology? ›

Career opportunities

Many of our graduates secure jobs as researchers working in universities, pharmaceutical and bioscience companies and institutes. Some of our graduates progress into laboratory-based careers in clinical or technical roles that do not involve research.

Which specialization is best in UK? ›

Most Popular UK Courses for Overseas Students
  • Business Studies. A Business and Management degree focuses on the planning, running and operations of an organisation. ...
  • Accounting and Finance. ...
  • Undergraduate Law. ...
  • Economics. ...
  • Art & Design. ...
  • Computer Science. ...
  • Mechanical Engineering. ...
  • Politics.
12 Sept 2022

Which field has highest salary in UK? ›

  • Study in UK.
  • Top 6 Highest-Paying Careers and Jobs in the UK. Aeronautical & Aerospace Engineering. Medicine. Law. IT, Computer Science, Big Data & Analytics. Finance, Investment Banking & Risk Management. Sales and Marketing.
13 Sept 2022

Which salary is best in UK? ›

43 Highest Paid Jobs in the UK in 2022
  • Chief Executive Officer. Average Salary – £77,711. ...
  • Entrepreneur. Average Salary – £101,000. ...
  • Chief Financial Officer. Average Salary – £97,646. ...
  • Lawyer. Average Salary – £48,414. ...
  • Orthodontist. Average Salary – £77,757. ...
  • Information Technology Manager. ...
  • Cybersecurity Specialist. ...
  • Accountant.

Which occupation has highest salary in UK? ›

Trending 25 Highest Paying Jobs in the UK for 2022
  • Chief Executives and Senior Managers. In the UK, the highest average salary is enjoyed by CEOs. ...
  • Entrepreneurship. ...
  • Medical Practitioners. ...
  • Judges. ...
  • Enterprise Architect. ...
  • Risk Manager. ...
  • HR Director. ...
  • Marketing Specialists.

What does a microbiologist earn in the UK? ›

How much does a Microbiologist make in United Kingdom? The average microbiologist salary in the United Kingdom is £30,499 per year or £15.64 per hour. Entry level positions start at £25,000 per year while most experienced workers make up to £93,764 per year.

How many microbiologists are there in the UK? ›

There are approximately 444 microbiologist and 11 virologists working in the NHS in England.

How do I become a registered microbiologist UK? ›

Qualifications Required to Become a Microbiologist

To become a professional microbiologist you need to start with an undergraduate microbiology course such as a B.Sc. in Microbiology, followed by a M.Sc. in Microbiology as the postgraduate level.

Which country pays microbiologists highest? ›

In the end, the country that pays its scientists the most is Switzerland.

Is microbiology hard or easy? ›

Microbiology is a hard subject to study. It's very detail heavy; requiring you to remember a lot of facts about microscopic organisms, morphologies and modes of action. Without some basic knowledge of biology and chemistry, or the ability to memorize things easily, it's likely you'll struggle.

What skills do you need to be a microbiologist? ›

Key skills for microbiologists
  • Patience.
  • Attention to detail.
  • Decisiveness.
  • Independence.
  • Excellent IT skills.
  • Numerical skills.
  • Analytical skills.
  • Teamworking skills.

Can a microbiologist work in a hospital? ›

Microbiologists are essential in helping us to treat diseases. Many work as biomedical scientists in hospitals and laboratories: testing samples of body tissue, blood and fluids to diagnose infections, monitor treatments or track disease outbreaks.

Is microbiology better than nursing? ›

BSc Nursing is a 4-year course that covers critical care skills, training, and knowledge, while BSc Microbiology is a 3-year course that studies microorganisms and their impact on the body. Both degrees may provide excellent job opportunities.

What are the 2 main branches of microbiology? ›

Microbiology can be divided into two branches: pure and applied. The former is the most fundamental branch, in which organisms themselves are examined in-depth. In applied microbiology, the organisms themselves are not studied but are applied to a certain process.

Is it easy to get job after MSc microbiology? ›

Students after completing MSc Microbiology will get job opportunities in the pharmaceutical sector, breweries, dairy or distilleries. They work as pharmacologists, microbiologists, Food Technologists or Biomedical scientists depending on the area of work. Microbiology is a part of the Biotechnology stream.

Is microbiology better or life science? ›

Thus if you want to learn an advanced applied topic which has some really amazing scope in research as well as in industries then I would suggest you to go for Microbiology. You will have a more efficient career in Microbiology than that of Biological Sciences.

Is microbiology stressful job? ›

High. Stress is not uncommon amongst microbiologists, with daily work sometimes being quite demanding.

What is the lowest salary of a microbiologist? ›

FAQs About Microbiologists
  • What is the highest pay for Microbiologists? Our data indicates that the highest pay for a Microbiologist is ₹1m / year.
  • What is the lowest pay for Microbiologists? Our data indicates that the lowest pay for a Microbiologist is ₹130k / year.
  • How can Microbiologists increase their salary?
26 Oct 2022

Which job is best after MSC microbiology? ›

7 types of careers after microbiology course
  • Research associate.
  • Biomedical scientist.
  • Microbiologist.
  • Pharmacologist.
  • Ecologist.
  • Science writer.
  • Food technologist.
8 Nov 2021

How do I become a successful microbiologist? ›

How to become a microbiologist
  1. Complete higher secondary education. The first step to becoming a microbiologist is to complete higher secondary education with subjects like physics, chemistry and biology. ...
  2. Get a bachelor's degree. ...
  3. Get a master's degree. ...
  4. Gain work experience. ...
  5. Get a doctorate degree.
12 Jun 2021

Which country has most demand for microbiologist? ›

Best countries to study microbiology
  • Microbiology in USA.
  • Microbiology in New Zealand.
  • Microbiology in UK.
  • Microbiology in Canada.
  • Microbiology in Ireland.
  • Microbiology in Lebanon.
  • Microbiology in Grenada.
  • Microbiology in Finland.

Which job is in high demand in UK? ›

Fast Growing Jobs in the UK
JobsAverage Salary (in £) Per YearIncrease in Demand
IT Engineer28,21233.7%
Mobile Developer34,97128.2%
Recruiting Assistant22,35228.5%
Assistant Principal51,54129.5%
5 more rows

Which jobs has more demand UK? ›

6 In-demand job in the UK
S noMost in demand jobs UKAverage starting salaries
1Programmers and Software Developers£26,000
2Cyber Security Specialists£25,000
3Health Services and Residential Care£21,000 - £30,000
2 more rows

Which industry is best for microbiologist? ›

Other than education, this field requires several skills. The number one skill that microbiologists need is patience.
These medical laboratory technicians work in:
  • Hospitals.
  • Pharmaceutical companies.
  • Universities.
  • Research labs.
  • Public health departments.
2 Oct 2022

Which jobs are in shortage UK? ›

What jobs are on UK Shortage Occupation List
  • Care workers.
  • Veterinarians.
  • Health sector jobs (e.g. medical practitioners, nurses, psychologists, pharmacists, medical radiographers, physiotherapists, paramedics, social workers, nursing auxiliaries and assistants)

Which field is best for future in UK? ›

1. Engineering
  • Civil Engineering.
  • Mechanical Engineering.
  • Electrical and Electronics Engineering.
  • Design and Development Engineering.
  • Production and Process Engineering.
  • Programme and Software Engineering.
  • Chemical Engineering.
5 Sept 2022

What jobs are hard to fill UK? ›

The 20 jobs employers find hardest to fill
RankJob TitleAverage Annual Salary
4Software Engineer£40,000
6 more rows

Is microbiology high paying? ›

Employees who knows Microbiology earn an average of ₹20lakhs, mostly ranging from ₹6lakhs per year to ₹43lakhs per year based on 94 profiles. The top 10% of employees earn more than ₹32lakhs per year.

What are the top 3 jobs in the UK? ›

  • Study in UK.
  • Top 6 Highest-Paying Careers and Jobs in the UK. Aeronautical & Aerospace Engineering. Medicine. Law. IT, Computer Science, Big Data & Analytics. Finance, Investment Banking & Risk Management. Sales and Marketing.
13 Sept 2022

What is the fastest growing career UK? ›

Some of the fastest growing fields include healthcare, technology, and business. Healthcare is expected to grow by over a million jobs in the next decade, while technology is expected to add nearly half a million jobs.


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