So you want to be a clinical microbiologist? — University Affairs (2022)

Career Advice

Bring science from the bench to the bedside in a career that draws on your strengths in research and working with people

BY NICOLE ARBOUR | JUN 09 2008

A career in clinical microbiology offers the opportunity to let you keep one foot planted in academia and the other out, making it an attractive career path for many science graduates, so long as you can handle the microbes. The successful clinical microbiologist possesses the insatiable curiosity and problem-solving skills of the research scientist, as well as the articulate, managerial extrovert’s ability to communicate effectively with the layperson. Can you relate to this description? Are you a detail-oriented person who enjoys teamwork? If you answered yes to these questions, a career in clinical microbiology might be right for you. If not, click here to consider another science career path.

A day in the life of a clinical microbiologist

A clinical microbiologist has two major duties: managing a team of medical technologists and consulting with physicians ordering tests. Managing medical technologists includes helping to analyze test results and answering questions pertaining to incoming patient samples, or samples that are in any way unusual or difficult to identify. It also requires dealing with administrative matters that may arise. Reporting test results and consulting with physicians on tests requested, making sure that the appropriate tests were ordered, and that unnecessary ones are cancelled – are also important parts of your day.

Being a clinical microbiologist also involves the creation, optimization and implementation of assays for use in clinical diagnostics, as well as keeping up with current literature. In addition to these duties and depending on the specific position, motivation and experience levels, a clinical microbiologist can also run a research lab, teach at an affiliated university, work on international projects involving infectious diseases, be involved in policy making and consult for industry.

As someone who has completed a PhD in academia, you’re already aware of the rigours of academic life, as well as the time it can take to translate research into something available in a clinical setting. As a clinical microbiologist, “you get the satisfaction of knowing that you have helped someone today, and not in 10 years or maybe never,” said Marc Desjardins, a clinical microbiologist at the Ottawa General Hospital. Not only are you working with a team of highly trained technologists to identify the pathogens affecting patients in the present, but with the ability to develop and implement assays for clinical diagnostics, clinical microbiology really brings science from the bench to the bedside in a very appreciable way.

What about the money?

After being accredited as a Fellow of the Canadian College of Microbiologists (FCCM) or receiving your American Board of Medical Microbiology (ABMM) accreditation (these certifications, which are mutually recognized, are explained in detail below), salaries start at around $100,000, a significant difference from what you’ll find in academia. While the salary disparity between an (FCCM/ABMM) accredited PhD, and that of an MD (despite similar jobs done in the lab) might be considered a downside, once you consider what your peers are making following similar training in academia, this may not seem like such a big deal.

What kind of work/life balance can you expect on the job? “The hours are flexible, but tend to be long, usually between nine to 10 hours a day. Often you have to take work home on weekends – teaching, grading, protocol writing and reading,” explained Dr. Desjardins. As you become more established you will also do more travelling, he said. This may be limited to one or two conferences a year at the start, but will likely become more frequent over time.

Meanwhile, advancement in this job, as with most, depends on the motivation of the individual, where they are employed, and how they personally define advancement. In clinical microbiology, there are many opportunities that can be taken advantage of. First, there is the possibility of teaching at a university and running a basic research lab. Research and development work, leading to presentations and publications on a national or international stage, will help to get your name out and establish your reputation in the community. From there, consulting opportunities may arise in the public, private or international development sectors.

Still with us? Great. It’s time to learn how to find your way in the industry and, most importantly, how to get the accreditation you need to land the job.

Getting your foot in the door

Even before you graduate, if you’ve determined that clinical microbiology is a career path that interests you, there are a number of things you should be doing. For one, try to get in contact with and talk to the clinical microbiologists in your area. Most people will be more than happy to discuss their career path with someone interested in their line of work. You can check out both the Canadian College of Microbiologists (CCM) and American Society for Microbiology (ASM) websites for information and people to contact for more information on particular programs offered.

You’ll also want to do as much networking as possible during your PhD training. Get to know your local microbiologists, both academic and clinical, as they will be indispensable sources of knowledge and support while applying to CCM-accredited or Committee on Postdoctoral Education Programs-accredited training programs (more on those in a moment). Become a student member of CCM or ASM, and get to know the organizations and how they work.

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Meanwhile, following the completion of your PhD, you will still have to get your FCCM/ABMM accreditation to get through the door to a good clinical microbiology position. This certification also represents an internationally recognized accreditation that is sought after in both clinical and industrial settings internationally.

FCCM accreditation requires the completion of a three-year postdoctoral residency at the CCM-accredited program at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. For more information on this program you can contact CCM registrar Raoul R. Korngold. An ABMM accreditation requires the completion of a two-year postdoctoral residency at a hospital in the United States that offers a Committee on Postdoctoral Educational Programs-accredited program in medical microbiology. Following your residency you must write and pass an FCCM or an ABMM accreditation exam.

Finally, with your FCMM/ABMM accreditation in hand you’re ready to start applying for positions. There are many excellent resources to start from, including the CCM, the ASM and the Canadian Association for Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (CACMID) websites, among others.

If you’ve made it this far, you may have what it takes to be a clinical microbiologist. But if you’re still shopping around for other career ideas, check out some of our other science career profiles here and here.

Dr. Nicole Arbour is a recent graduate from the biochemistry graduate program at the University of Ottawa and currently works as a research scientist with Spartan Bioscience in Ottawa.

COMMENTS

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17 Comments

  1. Chad Segel/February 20, 2009 at 09:22

    Hi

    This field sounds interesting. Where can I find the postdoctoral training sites in Canada?

    Thank you

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  2. Suseela Jacob/October 5, 2009 at 11:18

    Hi,

    Iam planning to immigrate to Canada by 2010.I found this information quite interesting as i am very much interested to pursue the career of clinical microbiologist.But i was not clear what opportunities do a person like me have as i have done a Master Degree in Microbiology from an Indian University.

    Reply

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  3. Jose Ignacio Trujillo R/March 23, 2010 at 20:11

    Dear University Affairs

    I am a Medical Doctor and Pharmacist who is in Australia with the goal to study a Master Degree in Infectious Diseases at the University of Western Australia. I would like to know somethings concerning to Clinical Microbiologist career. First, what are the opportunities of job?

    and salaries? Second, In relation with my background what you think, is a good combination?

    Third, I am thinking after finish my Master in Infectious Diseases going to Canada. What coul be the opportunities for me there?

    Thank you

    Reply

  4. sieh isaac kwame/August 10, 2010 at 06:07

    I am in my second year offering medical microbiology,i want to know if after my first degree I can continue with my masters and if any sponsorship package for students who want study with you.

    Reply

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  5. Kamran Kadkhoda/December 8, 2010 at 11:01

    Hi,

    I just would like to mention that beside CCM-accredited program at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, another Clinical Microbiology training program exists in Winnipeg, Manitoba; so it’d be good if you could also add that to the above info for prospective candidates: here’s the link:

    http://umanitoba.ca/faculties/medicine/units/medical_microbiology/clinical_microbiology.html

More Comments »

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FAQs

Why do you want to become a microbiologist? ›

Microbiology will always be relevant for health sciences and create numerous medical advancements in terms of understanding disease. With a major in microbiology, I am able to pursue the medical lab sciences program, and turn scientific projects into a career.

What do I need to become a clinical microbiologist? ›

Qualifications and training required

A 2.1 degree in a relevant subject such as biochemistry, microbiology, biology, chemistry, immunology, biomedical science, biotechnology, medical physics or genetics is required for entry.

What is the importance of clinical microbiology? ›

Clinical microbiology laboratory plays an important role in patient care by providing the cause of infection and antimicrobial susceptibility data to physicians. Rapid diagnosis of pathogens is important for initiating effective antibiotic administration and improving the outcomes of treatment.

What experience do you need to be a microbiologist? ›

Microbiologists typically need at least a bachelor's degree in microbiology or a related field, such as biology or natural resources, that provides substantial coursework in microbiology. Microbiology study usually includes courses in microbial genetics, microbial physiology, environmental microbiology, and virology.

What three qualities do you think a microbiologist needs to be successful? ›

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

Can a microbiology student switch to medicine? ›

The answer is it's possible to do Direct Entry into Medince if you have the requirements. The requirements, in this case, are the 5 O'level credit passes in English, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics but in just (1) one sitting. Most universities accept one sitting O'level result for Medical courses.

Is Clinical Microbiology better than medical microbiology? ›

medical microbiology studies the characteristics of pathogens,their modes of transmission,growth . medical mirobiologists serve as consultants for physicians in suggesting treatment options. Clinical microbiology is the study of microbes,which cause infection in humans.

Do microbiologists make a lot of money? ›

Microbiologists make $54,620 per year on average, or $26.26 per hour, in the United States. Microbiologists on the lower end of that spectrum, the bottom 10% to be exact, make roughly $39,000 a year, while the top 10% makes $75,000.

Can a medical microbiologist work in a hospital? ›

Some microbiologists work as clinical scientists in hospitals, universities and medical school laboratories where they carry out research and give scientific advice to medical staff.

What do you mean by clinical microbiology? ›

The definition of clinical microbiology as a branch of science dealing with the interrelation of macro- and microorganisms under normal and pathological conditions and in the dynamics of a pathological process with an account of the treatment till the clinical and/or complete recovery is presented.

What kinds of challenges do microbiologists face? ›

Clinical microbiology laboratories continue to face five major challenges: infrastructure, equipment, logistics, quality assurance and human resources. As has often been described, equipment needs to be 'tropicalised', i.e., able to withstand harsh climatic conditions of high humidity, high temperature and/or sand (2).

What is the role of microbiologist in hospital? ›

Microbiologists and virologists diagnose, treat and prevent the spread of infection, making a major contribution to clinical infection management. Both roles demand excellent clinical skills as well as first-class laboratory knowledge.

How hard is it to become a microbiologist? ›

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 is the highest paying job in microbiology? ›

Here are the 10 highest-paying microbiology jobs for you.
  • #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.
14 Jun 2022

Is a degree in microbiology worth it? ›

Microbiology is an excellent major for undergraduate students who want a good general education with emphasis on an important and interesting branch of biology. Microbiology is also an excellent preparatory major for students interested in medical, dental and other health professional training.

What is the main work of a microbiologist? ›

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.

Are microbiologists happy? ›

Microbiologists are below average when it comes to happiness. At CareerExplorer, we conduct an ongoing survey with millions of people and ask them how satisfied they are with their careers. As it turns out, microbiologists rate their career happiness 3.1 out of 5 stars which puts them in the bottom 38% of careers.

Can microbiologist become doctor? ›

People study BSC, or any bachelor's degree then they do master's and phD then they are called Doctors. If you go for graduation in microbiology then you do DMLT , ( Diploma in medical laboratory Technology) , then you have to give an entrance exam and after doing M.D. program ,you will be called Doctor.

Which is better biology or microbiology? ›

This concludes the major difference between Biology and Microbiology.
...
Biology vs Microbiology – The significant difference.
BiologyMicrobiology
It is a diverse field of scienceIt is a sub-field or branch of biology
It is a core subject.It is more fundamental and applied science.
3 more rows

Which is better biomedical science or microbiology? ›

Biomedical science has alot more career opportunities than microbiology!! If you are going to be a microbiologist, do a microbiology degree. If you want other scientific careers do biomedical science. The other jobs on Prospects seem to require further training on top of the biomed bachelors.

Can I do pharmacy after microbiology? ›

Of course you can do msc pharmacy after completing bsc microbiology. You just need to have a bachelor's degree to get into msc.

Is clinical microbiology the same as medical? ›

The main difference between medical microbiology and clinical microbiology is that medical microbiology is the study of characteristics of pathogens, mode of transmission, and growth, whereas clinical microbiology is the study of microbes that cause infection in humans.

Can a microbiologist become a public health? ›

Most public health microbiologists have a bachelor's degree in biology, microbiology, or epidemiology. Some positions may require an advanced degree, such as a master's degree in public health. Job duties include performing research related to the spread of diseases throughout a population.

How do I become a clinical microbiologist UK? ›

To enter training to be a consultant medical microbiologist, you'll need to:
  1. qualify as a doctor.
  2. register with the General Medical Council (GMC)
  3. complete the UK Foundation Training Programme or equivalent.
  4. complete two years Core Medical Training (CMT) or Acute Care Common Stem (ACCS) training.

Which country is best for microbiology? ›

If you are looking for reputable universities with low tuition fees, the best countries for studying microbiology are Germany, Switzerland, and United Kingdom.

Which is the best field in microbiology? ›

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

Where do microbiologists earn the most? ›

Microbiologists in government hospitals earn between N80, 000 – N120, 000 for a start while their colleagues in private institutions earn between N50, 000 – N80, 000.

Where can I work if I study microbiology? ›

Microbiologists work in hospitals, universities, medical schools, government laboratories, and almost every industry, specializing in a variety of areas, from agriculture to the space industry.

What are the 5 branches of microbiology? ›

Fields of Microbiology
  • Parasitology: The study of the biology of parasites and parasitic diseases.
  • Mycology: The study of fungi.
  • Bacteriology: The study of bacteria.
  • Virology: The study of viruses.
  • Protozoology: The study of protozoa.
  • Phycology: The study of algae.
10 Feb 2022

Is Medical Microbiology a good career? ›

Career Scope. “Job outlook for Microbiologist is positive.” At present, the scientific, analytical and problem-solving skills developed by microbiology graduates are high in demand by employers. There are various options available to you after studying for a Microbiology degree.

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

Bachelor's degree in the biology/health-related sciences. Completion of at least 6 months training in a clinical or public health laboratory. Certification as medical microbiologist recognized by public health, but not mandatory for most laboratories.

What is the most common microbiology test? ›

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Testing

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has become one of the most common microbiological testing methods since its development in the 1980s. It's often faster and more accurate than traditional methods. PCR tests replicate the DNA or RNA unique to specific microorganisms and pathogens.

What is a clinical microbiology laboratory? ›

The Clinical Microbiology Laboratory is a full-service laboratory offering diagnostic bacteriology, mycology, parasitology, virology, and mycobacteriology.

What is the most challenging from microbiology? ›

One of the most challenging parts of our work is that the micro-organisms that we study are anaerobic, meaning that oxygen is toxic to them.

Is there a future in microbiology? ›

Exciting frontiers. It's an exciting time for microbiology because the tools available to study microbes have improved a lot recently. Molecular biology (the study of nucleic acids such as DNA and RNA) has improved so much that microbiologists are now using molecular tools in many branches of the field.

What is the most common problem encountered in the microbiology lab? ›

Contamination of cell cultures is easily the most common problem encountered in several microbial laboratories, sometimes with very serious consequences. In overall, the reason for contaminants are mostly happened through avoidable procedural errors and misguide techniques.

Is microbiologist a scientist? ›

A microbiologist (from Greek μῑκρος) is a scientist who studies microscopic life forms and processes. This includes study of the growth, interactions and characteristics of microscopic organisms such as bacteria, algae, fungi, and some types of parasites and their vectors.

What tools do microbiologists use? ›

Microbiology equipment include microscopes; slides; test tubes; petri dishes; growth mediums, both solid and liquid; inoculation loops; pipettes and tips; incubators; autoclaves, and laminar flow hoods.

Is microbiology or cell biology harder? ›

Micro was easy. Cell Bio was slightly more difficult due to it being more detail-oriented, and Genetics was by and large a pain in the butt because of the level of detail and reasoning that was demanded of you.

How is math used in microbiology? ›

Microbiology is a rich area for visualizing the importance of mathematics in terms of designing experiments, data mining, testing hypotheses, and visualizing relationships.

Is there a demand for microbiologists? ›

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.

Which is better microbiology or biochemistry? ›

Biochemistry has a better scope than microbiology but both are research oriented.

Who is the best microbiologist in the world? ›

Alexander Fleming.
  • Microbiologist # 1. Antony Van Leeuwenhoek:
  • Microbiologist # 2. Louis Pasteur:
  • Microbiologist # 3. Robert Koch:
  • Microbiologist # 4. Edward Jenner:
  • Microbiologist # 5. Paul Ehrlich:
  • Microbiologist # 6. Martinus W. Beijerinck:
  • Microbiologist # 7. Sergei N. ...
  • Microbiologist # 8. Dimitri Ivanovski:

How much does a microbiologist earn in a month? ›

The average salary for a microbiologist is ₹16,900 per month in India.

What are the benefits of studying microbiology? ›

Microbiology has helped to treat and prevent diseases which are caused by viruses, bacteria, protozoa and fungi. In medicine, for example, microbiology led to the discovery and development of: Antibiotics, and. Vaccines.

Why do I want to study microbiology? ›

Microbiology will always be relevant for health sciences and create numerous medical advancements in terms of understanding disease. With a major in microbiology, I am able to pursue the medical lab sciences program, and turn scientific projects into a career.

Is doing MSc in microbiology worth it? ›

Therefore, 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 ...

What is interesting microbiology? ›

Microbiology is the study of microorganisms (Microbes). 1. The human body has more microbes than there are human cells. In fact, microbes are ten times more than the number of human cells in a living human being.

Is Microbiologist a good career? ›

Job outlook for Microbiologist is positive.”

At present, the scientific, analytical and problem-solving skills developed by microbiology graduates are high in demand by employers. There are various options available to you after studying for a Microbiology degree.

What is the work of microbiologist? ›

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.

Why do we study microbiology in nursing? ›

Microbiology helps a nursing professional to understand the basic concepts of reproduction, morphology, biochemical characteristics and genetics. Microbiology makes aware about new diseases and modern molecular identification methods.

Is microbiology hard in college? ›

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 does a microbiologist do in a hospital? ›

Microbiologists and virologists diagnose, treat and prevent the spread of infection, making a major contribution to clinical infection management. Both roles demand excellent clinical skills as well as first-class laboratory knowledge.

Which is better microbiology or biochemistry? ›

Biochemistry has a better scope than microbiology but both are research oriented.

Which country is best for microbiology? ›

If you are looking for reputable universities with low tuition fees, the best countries for studying microbiology are Germany, Switzerland, and United Kingdom.

Is microbiology a stressful job? ›

Microbiologists tend not to find their jobs stressful, which likely contributes positively to career satisfaction.

Which field is best in 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.

Who is a famous microbiologist? ›

Microbiologists
Birth - DeathMicrobiologistNationality
1845–1922Charles LavaranFrench
1827–1912Joseph ListerEnglish
1822–1895Louis PasteurFrench
1850–1934Fanny HesseGerman
21 more rows

Do microbiologists make a lot of money? ›

Microbiologists make $54,620 per year on average, or $26.26 per hour, in the United States. Microbiologists on the lower end of that spectrum, the bottom 10% to be exact, make roughly $39,000 a year, while the top 10% makes $75,000.

Can a microbiologist work in a bank? ›

B.Sc Microbiology is no where related to the written exams of Bank jobs. But it would just give you the eligibility to apply for Bank Jobs. So it would be better to have a coaching from coaching institute to prepare for Bank Jobs. In private sector, each bank will conduct its own selection procedure.

Is microbiology better than nursing? ›

Both can give a good career satisfaction and it all depends on one's inclination. If you like taking care of people, nursing is the choice, but if you prefer to work in the lab, then it's microbiology.

What can I expect from microbiology? ›

Microbiology courses teach the basics of reproduction, morphology, and genetics. The course also teaches students about molecular identification methods, infections diseases, and biochemical characteristics. Students also learn the influence biotechnology has on the development of certain medications and vaccinations.

Can I study nursing with BSC microbiology? ›

A B.S. in microbiology does not meet the requirement to be a nurse. Those wishing to work as a nurse may pursue a Licensed Practice Nurse (LPN). LPN is the equivalent of a 2 year AA degree.

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