COVID-19 jobs: Medical microbiologist

Career & Education

COVID-19 jobs: Medical microbiologist

Sunday, April 05, 2020

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Medical microbiology is a field of scientific study that includes looking at bacteria, viruses, and parasites — all of which can be seen as the cause, and often part of the cure — for various diseases and illnesses. Degrees can be obtained at the bachelor's, master's, doctoral and post doctorate levels, leading to a variety of career paths.

Career Options

Those with an undergraduate degree can work as research technicians in the private sector, nonprofit organisations, and academia. One specific job in this field that's available with an undergraduate degree is medical and clinical laboratory technologist. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for medical and clinical laboratory technologists could increase by 11 per cent between 2018 and 2028, which was well above the average for all occupations.

These professionals made a mean annual wage of US$53,880 as of May 2018, per the BLS.

An advanced degree could translate to a career as a college educator or contributing member of a scientific team, which eventually could result in a leadership or management position, such as the director of an immunology or clinical microbiology laboratory.

Upward mobility in this profession requires not only scientific skills, but also good communication, business, and management techniques. With advanced education and experience, medical microbiologists can develop and manage their own research projects.

The BLS projected that employment for microbiologists would rise by five per cent between 2018 and 2028, which was as fast as the average for all occupations. Opportunities for post-secondary biological studies teachers, however, were expected to increase by 12 per cent over the same decade.

As of May 2018, the mean annual wage for microbiologists was US$81,150, while post-secondary biological science teachers earned an average annual salary of US$97,340.

Educational Requirements

Earning a bachelor's degree in medical microbiology or medical laboratory sciences gives graduates the opportunity to enter the field as technologists or teachers at the high school level, or to continue on for an advanced degree. Undergraduate programmes provide coursework in theoretical and technical aspects of the field through classroom and laboratory studies. First- and second-year courses might include general microbiology, biology of microorganisms, immunology, biochemistry and anatomy. Upper division courses, such as genetics, microbial physiology, bacteriology, and hematology, focus heavily on laboratory applications.

A master's degree programme in medical microbiology might prepare graduates to teach at the college and university level or to work as laboratory managers, supervisors, or research associates. Master's degree programmes in microbiology focus on advanced topics and laboratory training, which helps to direct students toward research projects that correspond with their interests. Through the help of a mentor, the project is often the final arbiter toward earning a master's degree.

A PhD programme usually begins with students choosing a particular research topic. The student then develops a hypothesis and a plan to prove it through research. Earning the degree hinges on presenting a final report and dissertation. Graduates can then obtain a postdoctoral position, which provides the opportunity for publication, a necessary step in obtaining a tenured faculty position at a college or university.

In summary, various medical microbiology careers such as medical and clinical laboratory technologist, microbiologist, and postsecondary biological science teacher are available based on a professional's interest and level of education.


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