The recent outbreak of the pandemic novel Coronavirus has possibly made us realize yet again how important basic science is. It is particularly true when it comes to the fundamental study and understanding of life that can’t be seen with the naked eye. This is where Microbiology comes to the picture. If you are still bothered by the redundant question “What is the career scope of Microbiology in India or abroad?”, let’s put an end to the discussion once and for all.
Microbiology Careers and Jobs in India
By Pallavi Mitra (M.Sc. Microbiology), Former Research & Training Coordinator at SHRM Biotech
What is Microbiology?
Microbiology is the study of minute single-celled organisms, most of which are unfortunately dangerous and capable of causing communicable diseases. This branch of science deals with the fundamental understanding of how a single cell works detailing the function and structure of every single sub-cellular component.
It is to be noted that not all microorganisms are harmful. Some are useful and in fact, there are some who are absolutely necessary for sustaining life on earth.
While a majority of microbes cause diseases in humans, plants and animals, a wide range of microorganisms are also used in several sectors owing to their beneficial properties. For example, they are used in the preparation of food products, beverages, and antibiotics. Different categories of microbes have been used for the preparation of bread and alcohol for several centuries now. The biggest application of microbes is, however, in the health and medical sector.
Applications of Microbiology in Health & Medicine
Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch, two of the most notable scientist of the 19th century, studied the role of microbes and thereby contributed largely to medical microbiology. Robert Koch conducted several experiments that have made analyzing disease progression easier today. Pasteur was the one who developed several techniques for food preservation, pasteurization being one of those.
In the current scenario, the health sector is almost entirely dependant on microorganisms for conducting research and developing newer drug types and antibiotics. The biggest problem with microbes is that they develop resistance very quickly. This, in turn, highlights how important it is to pursue Microbiology as we are yet to know so much more about these smart little life forms.
Microbiology plays an important role in several advanced diagnostic tools, medical devices and other tools related to complex biological systems. The subject is equally important when it comes to developing pharmacological products. Microbes are used as model organisms in a research program dedicated to finding a cure to a disease or for understanding pathogenesis routes.
What does a Microbiologist do?
Microbiologists study the microscopic organisms that cause infections, including viruses, bacteria, fungi, and algae. They focus on the identification and growth of these organisms in order to understand their characteristics, with the overall aim to prevent, diagnose and treat infectious diseases like the recent pandemic COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 19).
The work of microbiologists is relevant in a range of fields, including pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, and agriculture. It also depends on the area of specialization. Below is an illustration of a Veterinary Microbiologist.
The majority of the work is carried out in hospitals, laboratories, and offices, with the main employers being environmental organizations, the National Health Service, the pharmaceutical and water industries, and forensic science laboratories. Microbiology is a broad subject that overlaps with other life sciences, such as immunology and biochemistry.
Is Microbiology different from Biotechnology and Biochemistry?
If you are yet to start your college life and are still confused about your subject, this is possibly a question that bothers you. Microbiology is a basic interdisciplinary subject that deals with microorganisms. The field of microbiology tries to understand the behavior and life cycles of microorganisms.
On the other hand, Biotechnology is a wider subject that also covers certain parts of microbiology. Whereas, Biochemistry deals with understanding the chemistry of life. Do not assume that Biotechnology is better just because it covers microbiology too. Remember that it covers a part only while Microbiology is the all-in-all basic subject that will give you leverage.
Related Article: Biotechnology vs Biomedical Science vs Biomedical Engineering
Demand and Career Prospects of Microbiology
A bachelors’ degree or masters’ degree in microbiology can land you lucrative jobs in India as well as abroad. You can get placed in hospitals or clinical laboratories as microbiologists. You can also get the job of quality analysts. You can also continue in the academic field by pursuing a PhD or by becoming a lecturer. You can be eligible to be a part of the following sectors:
- Pharmaceutical-Biotech Industries
- Academia (Colleges & Universities)
- Clinical (Diagnostic) Laboratories
- Private Hospitals
- Research Organizations
- Environmental Agencies
- Food Industry
- Beverage Industry
- Chemical Industries
- Agriculture Department
- Govt. Sector
If you are planning to make a career out of Microbiology, I suggest you take some preparations while you are still in school. In case you are in class 11, definitely choose Biology as one of the subjects. Inculcate the habit of studying research papers and review papers as this will help you later.
Related Article: Bioscience Summer Program for High School Students
Keep a tab of what is going on in the different industries of the country. If you are a graduate or a post-graduate who is willing to start his/her career, it is advised to take specialized training in any of the following:
- Agricultural Microbiology
- Industrial Microbiology
- Evolutionary Microbiology
- Nano Microbiology
- Cellular Microbiology
- Soil Microbiology
- Veterinary Microbiology
- Generation Microbiology
- Water Microbiology
- Pharmaceutical Microbiology
- Microbial Genetics
- Environmental Microbiology
Typical Jobs after Studying Microbiology
The possible job profiles that you can enjoy working in are:
- Research Assistant
- Food, Industrial or Environmental Microbiologists
- Quality Assurance Technologists
- Sales or Technical Representative
- Clinical and Veterinary Microbiologists
- Medical Technologists
- Biomedical Scientist
- Clinical Research Associate
- Food Technologist
- Scientific Laboratory Technician
- Physician Associate
- Research Scientist
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Top 10 Colleges for Microbiology in India
Given below is the list of the best colleges offering Microbiology courses In India:
- St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai
- Madras Christian College, Chennai
- The Oxford College of Science, Bangalore
- Fergusson College, Pune
- Mount Carmel College, Bangalore
- St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata
- Gargi College, New Delhi
- Elphinstone College, Mumbai
- St. Francis College for Women, Hyderabad
- Ethiraj College for Women, Chennai
My Take on Microbiology and its Scope
Personally, choosing Microbiology was not an informed decision. Like many, I was also confused between Microbiology and Biotechnology.
I took up Microbiology by chance and it has been the best decision of my life. I have tried to help you with this blog so that you guys can take an informed decision. I pursued Bachelors’ and then a Masters’ degree in Microbiology from Lady Brabourne College and St. Xavier’s College respectively.
Currently, I am working as a research coordinator at an LSSSDC accredited industry, SHRM Biotechnologies Pvt Ltd. It is a wonderful establishment that allows undergraduate and postgraduate students along with school students to undertake hands-on training sessions. This career opportunity has given me the bost of both worlds – industry and academia.
Studying Microbiology Abroad
In case you are planning to pursue Microbiology abroad, be wise while selecting the country and university. The USA, the UK, France, Germany, and Australia are your best bets where you can be eligible for a diverse range of job opportunities. Take your time and make a wise choice because rest assured, microbiology is the answer to resolve human suffering.
Author Bio: I have completed my Masters In Microbiology and I am a Gold Medalist from St. Xavier’s College. I have a publication in the Journal of Botanical Sciences and have spearheaded and guided multiple projects and dissertation work.
I am currently employed as a Project and Training Coordinator at SHRM Biotechnologies Pvt. Ltd., a heaven that accentuates my scientific as well as leadership skills. I strongly believe that passion precedes hard work and the latter inevitably leads to success. You can connect with me on LinkedIn.
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