The covid-19 pandemic has pushed the role of a microbiologist into the spotlight as knowledge shared by microbiologists will help in the effective management of the disease. The current pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus has revealed the deadly roles played by microorganisms. Apart from causing diseases, microbes have crucial roles in food production, environmental science, medicine, and basic research. Recently, the Microbiology course attained immense popularity due to an increase in the number of students coming forward to pursue microbiology as a career. In the post, learn about the microbiology career scopes, jobs, and salary.
What is Microbiology?
Microbiology is the scientific study of microorganisms, those being unicellular, multicellular, or acellular. Microbiology encompasses numerous sub-disciplines including virology, bacteriology, protistology, mycology, immunology, and parasitology.
Microbiology is the study of all living organisms that are too small to be visible to the naked eye. This includes bacteria, archaea, viruses, fungi, prions, protozoa, and algae, collectively known as ‘microbes’.
These microbes play key roles in nutrient cycling, biodegradation/biodeterioration, climate change, food spoilage, the cause and control of disease, and biotechnology. Thanks to their versatility, microbes can be put to work in many ways: making life-saving drugs, the manufacture of biofuels, cleaning up pollution, and producing/processing food and drink.
Micro-organisms and their activities are vitally important to virtually all processes on Earth. Microorganisms matter because they affect every aspect of our lives – they are in us, on us, and around us.
Who is a Microbiologist?
A person who specializes in the field of microbiology is called a microbiologist. Microbiology was born in the year of 1674 when Antonie van Leeuwenhoek became the first microbiologist to observe microbes in a drop of water through a glass lens. Microbiologists are regarded as scientists or researchers who play a pivotal role in studying various microorganisms and infectious agents that cannot be seen with the naked eye.
They also study the interactions of microorganisms with humans and other animals that affect our lives. They have an in-depth knowledge of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, algae, fungi, and some types of parasites.
How to Make a Career in Microbiology
Molecular biology is the application of biological activities at a molecular level; Microbiology is the study of microorganisms. They are similar topics and there are many cross-overs between the two. Both are newly-developed branches of biology and the ongoing advancement in these two areas has resulted in many new applications across the field of Biology.
What qualifications do you need to become a Microbiologist?
An honors degree in either Microbiology or a related, (and relevant,) subject is required. Relevant degrees include the following:
- Applied biology
- Biological sciences
- Biology (but specialising in microbiology)
- Biomedical sciences
- Microbial sciences
- Molecular biology
Should you choose a course in biological sciences or applied biology, you will have experience in a wide-ranging background before you need to make a definitive choice about moving into a specialist area.
Career Opportunities with a Degree in Microbiology
A microbiology researcher finds solutions to problems. They perform a detailed study in areas of microbial usage in industrial processes, how a particular microorganism causes diseases in animals or humans, their transmission, so on. In microbiology, “research” includes the following tasks:
- Writing proposals to get grant funding or approval for experiments
- Designing and conducting experiments
- Analyzing data
- Publishing results in scientific journals and presenting at scientific conferences
The microbiology research job titles include research associate, research scientist, technician, laboratory manager, scientist, and principal investigator.
Clinical or Medical Microbiologist
Clinical microbiologists perform a wide range of clinical laboratory tests on specimens collected from plants, humans, and animals to aid in the detection of disease. Clinical and medical microbiologists whose work involves directly researching human health may be classified as medical scientists.
With the seemingly endless growth of superbugs and other antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the analytical and inquisitive minds of medical microbiologists are vital in healthcare today – both for treating infections and for fighting the spread of disease.
A food technologist is the one who determines the safety, claimed quality, and legalities associated with a food product. Food technologists are responsible for the safe and efficient development, modification, and manufacture of food products and processes.
Food technologists plan the manufacture of food and drink products and can work in a wide range of settings, including kitchens, factories, laboratories, and offices. Consequently, specific responsibilities vary greatly but may include:
- Generating new product ideas and recipes
- Modifying and improving existing recipes
- Designing processes and machinery for the production of recipes on a large scale
- Liaising with marketing staff
- Ensuring that strict hygiene food safety standards are met
- Identifying and choosing products from suppliers
- Monitoring the use of additives
- Testing and examining samples
- Writing reports
Microbiology graduates can work as clinical laboratory professionals. These professionals are employed in hospitals, public health laboratories, private diagnostic laboratories, and private companies. They are responsible for performing scientific testing on samples and reporting results to physicians. Read more about Diagnostics Careers and Jobs in India.
They perform complex tests on patient samples using sophisticated equipment like microscopes. The data they find plays an important role in identifying and treating cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other medical conditions.
They have a wide variety of responsibilities and duties, including:
- Examining and analyzing blood, body fluids, tissues, and cells
- Relaying test results to physicians
- Utilizing microscopes, cell counters, and other high-precision lab equipment
- Cross-matching blood for transfusion
- Monitoring patient outcomes
- Performing differential cell counts looking for abnormal cells to aid in the diagnosis of anemia and leukemia
- Establishing quality assurance programs to monitor and ensure the accuracy of test results
- Overseeing the work of a medical laboratory technician.
Quality Control (QC)
A quality control microbiologist is responsible for conducting quality check procedures on laboratory investigations and studies, ensuring that the outputs adhere to strict standards and internal regulations. Quality control microbiologists analyze raw materials and components, inspect the efficiency of laboratory tools and equipment, and validate data.
Quality control microbiologists evaluate documentation for high-quality deliverables. They also monitor the adequacy of inventory for laboratory operations and maintain the cleanliness and orderliness of the workplace to avoid potential hazards and prevent delays.
Here are examples of responsibilities from real quality control microbiologist resumes representing typical tasks they are likely to perform in their roles.
- Manage external contract labs for GLP testing, prepare documentation for regulatory approval.
- Serve as GLP trainer for program staff resulting in reduced OOS occurrences due to technician error.
- Provide quantitative and qualitative testing of pharmaceutical and medical device products in a GMP and ISO 17025 regulated environment.
- Initiate non-conformance investigations to document and track product/manufacturing/laboratory OOS, RCI and CAPA issues.
- Teach procedures and the LIMS software to new employees.
- Use LIMS to log and batch samples quickly and efficiently.
- Perform QC functions, including procedure audits, data audits, and metrology tasks.
- Help ensure that the laboratory is ISO compliant and assist in driving the process of certification.
- Practice for aseptic manipulations at the medium risk level, and gowning in ISO 5 and ISO 7 environments.
- Test waters for bacterial endotoxin.
- Conduct investigations with QA and manufacturing.
- Maintain laboratory according to GLP standards.
- Review documentation in preparation for FDA inspections.
- Monitor water system for bacterial and/or endotoxin content.
- Identify microorganisms and fungi present in environmental sampling.
Other Careers and Job Profiles
- Biosafety- Microbiology students can also work as biosafety professionals wherein the knowledge and skill gained by them to isolate, manipulate, and propagate pathogenic microorganisms are utilized to lay down regulations, facility designs, practices to prevent occupational diseases in work areas and release of harmful organisms in the environment.
- Scientific writers– They are microbiology graduates who have a flair for writing for newspapers, magazines, and scientific journals. They work with media companies, as well as for government institutions. Some also work as freelancers. They compile research stories and write articles on current events in the field of microbiology and new research being published.
- Patent law: Microbiology graduates can also find opportunities at law firms or private companies. Specially trained in drafting patents and with knowledge of intellectual property law, patent attorneys lead individual inventors or companies through the required process to obtain a patent and then act to enforce inventors’ rights if patents are infringed. A patent attorney is a lawyer with expertise in intellectual property law pertaining to securing and protecting an inventor’s property rights.
- Science education or outreach professionals- Many microbiology graduates work at various colleges and universities, museums, government agencies, private firms, and non-profit organizations. These professionals design and organize programs and events that engage the public or students with science.
Top Recruiting Sectors, Companies and Career Benefits of Microbiology
With a degree in microbiology, one can get opportunities in various environments like higher education institutions, hospitals, healthcare organizations, forensic science laboratories, environmental organizations, publicly funded research organizations, pharmaceuticals, food and drugs, and many other industries. The scope of microbiology is immense as its applications are in diverse fields like medicine, dairy, agriculture, clinical research, water industry, chemical technology, and nanotechnology.
Top Sectors and Companies to Work For in India for Microbiology Graduates
- Pharmaceutical Industries-Dr Reddy’s, Sun Pharma, Novo Nordisk, Lupin, Panacea Biotech, Parexel, GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi, AstraZeneca
- Biotechnology Companies-Biocon, Novozymes
- Contract Research Organization-Syngene, ICON, PPD, Clintec, Covance, Medpace
- Universities-Osmania University, Panjab University, Sardar Patel University
- Laboratories-Sami Labs, Sigma, Biocare Research, SRL Diagnostics
- Private Hospitals-Global Hospitals, Wockhardt Hospitals, Lilavati Hospital & Research Centre, Apollo Hospital
- Research Organizations-CSIR–CSMCRI, CSIR-IGIB, CSIR-CDRI, CSIR-CFTRI, CSIR-CIMAP, ICMR, ICMR–RMRC, ICMR-NIV, ICMR-NIRRH, ICMR-NARI, ICAR-IVRI, ICAR-IARI, ICAR-NBPGR, ICGEB, PGIMER, ACTREC, IISER-Pune, IISER Mohali, IISER Kolkata, IISER-TVM, IISER-Tirupati, NBRC, IISc, CBR, NIAB, NABI, NIFTEM, inStem, NCBS, IIFPT, FSSAI, IIT Kharagpur, IIT Delhi, IIT Jodhpur, DRDO-DRDE, CTRTI, NHM, NCERT, NCL Pune
- Environmental Agencies-Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, Chilika Development Authority, Gujarat Energy Research & Management Institute, Central Pollution Control Board
- Food Industry-Amul, Cafe Coffee Day, Suguna Foods, Mondelez, Heritage Foods, McCain, Mars IncorporatedBeverageIndustryCoca-cola, Tata Tea, PepsiCo, South Seas Distilleries & Breweries, Diageo
- Chemical Industries-Pidilite Industries Ltd, Tata Chemicals Ltd, Aarti Industries Ltd, India Glycols Ltd
- Agriculture Department-DuPont India, National Agro-Industry, PI Industries, Kemin Industries
Pros of becoming a Microbiologist
- Microbiologists are required in most aspects of the R&D Industry.
- Microbiologist has flexible working conditions.
- Microbiologists are an evergreen option as a career choice because no matter how the world changes, microorganisms are here to stay so you will always have a job vacancy awaiting you.
- Work is never monotonous.
- A microbiologist can easily switch up their job since they are required in most aspects of R&D, Healthcare, FMCG, and Food & Beverage Industry.
Microbiology Salary in India and Abroad
For entry-level positions, microbiology graduates can earn between Rs. 15,000 and 25,000 per month in India. As per PayScale, the average salary for a Microbiologist is ₹324,160 per annum. As per Glassdoor, The national average salary for a Microbiologist is ₹22,727 per month in India.
Microbiology Jobs and Salary in India
|Biomedical scientist||5,81,325 INR|
|Water quality laboratory technician||1,83,126 INR|
|Food technologist/Scientist||7,50,000 INR|
|Cosmetic Scientists||4,70,400 INR|
|Clinical Research Associate||3,44,254 INR|
|Sales or technical representative||4,30,000 INR|
|Research assistant||3,73,000 INR|
|Clinical and veterinary Microbiologist||6,75,078 INR|
|Quality assurance technologists||5,54,000 INR|
Microbiology Salary in USA
In the US, the average salary for a microbiologist is $69,372 per year. Typical range is USD $52,000 to $200,000. As per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for microbiologists was $84,400 in May 2020.
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