Microbiologist: Careers in Microbiology

A microbiologist is a scientist who studies microbes. He or she might have a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in microbiology. There are many career fields within the science of microbiology. For example, a person may specialize in the study of just one particular category of microbes. A bacteriologist is a scientist who specializes in bacteriology the study of the structure, functions, and activities of bacteria. Scientists specializing in the field of phycology (or algology) study the various types of algae and are called phycologists (or algologists).
Medical and Clinical Microbiology

Protozoologists explore the area of protozoology—the study of protozoa and their activities. Those who specialize in the study of fungi, or mycology, are called mycologists. Virology encompasses the study of viruses and their effects on living cells of all types. Virologists and cell biologists may become genetic engineers who transfer genetic material (deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA) from one cell type to another. Virologists may also study prions and viroids, acellular infectious agents that are even smaller than viruses.

Other career fields in microbiology pertain more to applied microbiology, that is, how a knowledge of microbiology can be applied to different aspects of society, medicine, and industry. (Two medically related career fields are discussed here; other microbiology career fields are discussed on.) The scope of microbiology has broad, far-reaching effects on humans and their environment.

Medical and Clinical Microbiology 

Medical microbiology is an excellent career field for individuals having interests in medicine and microbiology. The field of medical microbiology involves the study of pathogens, the diseases they cause, and the body’s defenses against disease. This field is concerned with epidemiology, transmission of pathogens, disease-prevention measures, aseptic techniques, treatment of infectious diseases, immunology, and the production of vaccines to protect people and animals against infectious diseases. The complete or almost complete eradication of diseases like smallpox and polio, the safety of modern surgery, and the successful treatment of victims of infectious diseases are attributable to many technological advances in this field. A branch of medical microbiology, called clinical microbiology or diagnostic microbiology, is concerned with the laboratory diagnosis of infectious diseases of humans. This is an excellent career field for individuals with interests in laboratory sciences and microbiology.