What career can I have in microbiology

How do I become a microbiologist?

Are you interested in how humans and nature work? Do you find the practical hours in the laboratory particularly exciting in biology and chemistry classes? Do you get curious rather than disgusted at the thought that microorganisms are actually crawling around on us humans all the time? Keeping a dog would be a little too much work for you, but do you still have a few bacteria left? Then a microbiologist is a good career choice for you. As a microbiologist, the laboratory is your kingdom. There you take care of bacterial strains and cultures, plan experiments, carry them out and log them accordingly. For example, you develop drugs or improve existing products, or you research the functionality of a certain microorganism and make genetic modifications. During all of this work you will of course adhere to all safety and environmental protection guidelines in the laboratory.

Characteristics

Required degrees


Studies of Biology

Recommended training


University / college, study of biochemistry, biotechnology

Important school subjects


Biology, chemistry, mathematics

Starting salary as a microbiologist


€ 2.000 – 2.730

Working as a microbiologist

Important skills as a microbiologist

First of all, of course, you have to bring the relevant specialist knowledge with you. You should be familiar with microbiology, molecular biology, genetics and biochemistry and, depending on your specialization, have the relevant scientific knowledge. Then as a microbiologist you have to be able to work very precisely. Sometimes you have to plan your experiments very precisely in terms of time, and you always have to make sure that you work completely sterile. As soon as a series of experiments becomes contaminated, you may have to start from scratch. You also work with very small amounts of chemicals and have to be able to measure them very precisely. In the field of biology in particular, technology is becoming increasingly important and you should not only know the devices in the laboratory inside out, but also be able to operate the software that you use in the company. You will also need business fluent English to stay up to date, as all of the scientific literature you need to read is in English. In science, you work with a wide variety of colleagues: assistants, trainees, researchers, professors. Therefore, you have to be able to work in a team and get along with very different people. Ultimately, you need a certain ability to multitask, because often several series of experiments run at the same time, and then you have to take care of them at the same time.

Important hard skills

Sound knowledge of English, knowledge of chemistry, knowledge of biology

Important soft skills

Ability to work in a team

How do I become a microbiologist?

To become a microbiologist, you need a degree. A master’s degree is enough to gain a foothold in the professional world, but many companies prefer applicants with a doctorate and then pay a higher salary accordingly. You can study biology in general and then specialize in microbiology, but you can also choose more specific courses such as molecular microbiology right from the start. More specific and applied courses of study are more likely to be found at universities of applied sciences than at universities. Even with a degree in chemistry or biochemistry, you can work in the microbiological field.

Advanced training and specializations

As a microbiologist, you basically have to continue to educate yourself because research advances so quickly. Even if you work in the private sector, you have to keep up with the most important innovations and know what the current state of knowledge is. There are scientific seminars, meetings and conferences that you should attend regularly as part of your work. When you have enough of the laboratory one day, you can also switch to the area of ​​science communication, where you will learn how to explain complex scientific issues to mere mortals and how to arouse their interest in the appropriate advanced training.

Future prospects as a microbiologist

As a microbiologist, your career options are quite diverse. On the one hand, you can work in pharmaceutical companies, for example. But you can also work in medicine, for example in a hospital or a diagnostic laboratory. Your knowledge and skills are also required in basic research at universities and research institutes. If you work in research, the career path is quite clear: you will complete your doctorate, then have one or two post-doctoral positions, become an assistant professor and at some point, when you have made it to the top, a university professor. In the private sector, the career path is not that straight, but you have good opportunities for advancement here too. Step by step, you can take on more responsibility in the areas of laboratory organization, process optimization and personnel management. However, this also means less time in the laboratory and more time at the desk.