Examples of Careers in Microbiology (With Essential Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 29 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Microbiology involves studying microbes, which are organisms that are too small to see without the aid of equipment. This field has a lot of modern-day applications in various industries, including health, agriculture and food. Understanding the careers in microbiology can help you decide on the best career path. In this article, we discuss examples of microbiology careers, explore how to get a microbiology degree and outline essential skills for microbiology professionals.

Examples of careers in microbiology

Here are examples of some careers in microbiology:

1. Microbiologist

National average salary: HK$14,046 per month

Primary duties: Microbiologists study microbes that cause human diseases, including fungi, viruses, bacteria and algae. These scientists identify, classify and study these organisms to understand how they function and interact with human systems. In addition, microbiologists aim to gain knowledge to help diagnose and treat infectious diseases that microbes cause. Their daily activities include collecting and testing samples, developing new medication and conducting research.

Related: What Is a Biologist? Learn About a Career in Biology

2. Researcher

National average salary: HK$23,293 per month

Primary duties: Researchers gather, sort and analyse data for various reasons. It can be to solve a problem, understand an issue or make accurate predictions. Microbiology researchers have a background in microbiology and gather data to support research. Their daily activities include sharing surveys, analysing research data and preparing research reports.

3. Laboratory assistant

National average salary: HK$13,947 per month

Primary duties: Laboratory assistants provide support to other professionals in the laboratory. They assist with experiments or tests to diagnose diseases, conduct tests or enhance research. Laboratory assistants work both in the field and in the lab. Their daily activities include collecting and storing samples, preparing samples for testing, maintaining laboratory equipment, preparing laboratory test reports and assisting other professionals with related tasks.

4. Consultant

National average salary: HK$18,550 per month

Primary duties: Consultants provide insight and advice on microbiology matters to individuals, corporations and government agencies that employ their services. These professionals conduct research and provide recommendations to clients on various issues. A microbiologist consultant can work in a hospital, pharmaceutical company or government agency. Their daily activities include conducting research, holding consultation sessions with clients and preparing reports.

5. Research scientist

National average salary: HK$24,670 per month

Primary duties: Research scientists contribute to the growth of knowledge in their field by conducting various studies and research. These professionals can conduct targeted research to solve a problem or research to discover new information. The work of research scientists often influences industry trends, technology and government policies. Their daily activities include collecting and testing samples, preparing research reports and writing proposals.

6. Quality assurance engineer

National average salary: HK$22,007 per month

Primary duties: Quality assurance engineers inspect products to identify defects. They aim to improve customer satisfaction by identifying and removing damaged goods before they can reach the consumer. Quality assurance engineers can specialise in medical products or fields and focus on improving production processes for greater product quality.

7. Medical technologist

National average salary: HK$43,239 per month

Primary duties: Medical technologists work in hospital laboratories and conduct tests on patient samples. Doctors and other medical professionals rely on the work of medical technologists to diagnose and medicate their patients. Their daily activities include collecting and sorting samples, conducting laboratory tests and preparing test results. They also maintain laboratory equipment and assist with diagnosis.

Related: 23 of the Best STEM Jobs in Hong Kong

8. Laboratory technician

National average salary: HK$17,927 per month

Primary duties: A laboratory technician collaborates with other science professionals to conduct tests in a laboratory. These tests can be mechanical, diagnostic, technical or scientific. Their daily activities include maintaining laboratory equipment, recording research findings and conducting tests on samples.

9. Scientist

National average salary: HK$25,815 per month

Primary duties: Scientists undergo research to contribute knowledge in a particular field. They may also research to solve a problem. Their daily activities include obtaining samples, conducting research, writing proposals and preparing reports of research findings.

How to start a career in microbiology

Here are some steps you can follow to start a career in microbiology:

1. Complete your secondary school education

To gain admission into a university for a microbiology degree, it's necessary you complete your secondary school education. While in secondary school, ensure you pay attention to math, biology, chemistry and physics. These subjects provide you with the valuable foundational knowledge to study microbiology, and the university you want may also require high performance in those subjects. You can take other science or maths electives to make yourself a more attractive candidate. Ensure you participate in relevant extracurricular activities like science clubs, fairs and term projects.

2. Apply to a university

After completing your secondary school education, you can start applying to a university. Start by creating a list of universities you're interested in after considering various factors like location, cost, curriculum and learning environment. Afterwards, you can research each university to confirm their admission requirements and procedures. You can obtain this information by reviewing the university's website or contacting the admissions officer. Most universities require candidates to submit a secondary school diploma, statement of purpose and recommendation letter. Some universities may also require candidates to complete an interview or assessment.

3. Engage in extracurricular activities

While your primary aim for enrolling for a degree is to study, it's essential you engage in extracurricular activities. These activities can help you develop soft skills that can aid your career in microbiology. For example, as a microbiology major, you can consider joining the editorial team of the faculty magazine. That can help you develop research skills that are crucial for a career in microbiology. Similarly, you can develop your interpersonal and communication skills by interacting with other editorial team members. You can also consider activities like sports, public speaking and arts.

4. Network

Networking is an essential process, regardless of your industry. Professionals in microbiology rely on networking to gain access to information and collaborate on projects. As this is an important part of your career, you can make the best out of your degree by starting early. The relaxed atmosphere of a university is a great avenue to build relationships with your peers in the same field. You can network by attending classes regularly, participating and interacting with your classmates. Similarly, you can engage in extracurricular activities or attend social events to meet different people.

5. Complete internships

An internship is a brief period you spend working in an organisation to gain experience or fulfil a professional or academic requirement. Ideally, you complete an internship under the supervision of an experienced professional, making it a great opportunity to develop relevant skills and knowledge. Many universities facilitate internships for their students, and you can take advantage of them by speaking to your course adviser. In contrast, you can apply for internships yourself by emailing your preferred company. You can also walk into an office and enquire about internship opportunities.

Related: What Is an Internship and How to Get One Successfully

Essential skills for a career in microbiology

Here are some essential skills for a career in microbiology:

Presentation skills

Professionals in microbiology conduct research on various aspects of their field to contribute to scientific knowledge. In addition, they compile their complex findings into reports for their peers and the public. Microbiologists, researchers and university professors also hold public lectures and seminars discussing their findings. To do this, these professionals require excellent presentation skills.

Research skills

One of the core responsibilities of a career in microbiology is regular research. Microbiologists and scientists often go out on expeditions to collect and test biological samples. Similarly, laboratory assistants and technicians spend hours in the lab, testing various samples and recording their findings. Performing these duties effectively requires good research skills.

Effective communication

Effective communication is the ability to pass and receive information effectively. It comprises writing, speaking and understanding non-verbal cues. While many careers in microbiology involve working alone in a lab, effective communication is still an essential skill. This is because microbiologists usually collaborate with various professionals. For example, a microbiologist collaborates with laboratory assistants to conduct research and record their findings. As a result, they require effective communication to provide clear instructions and record success. Microbiology professionals also require effective communication to explain complex concepts to a non-scientific audience.

Related: 10 Effective Communication Skills for Career Success

Attention to detail

Attention to detail is the ability to complete tasks with accuracy, and it's essential for microbiologists. Professionals like laboratory technicians, microbiologists and scientists conduct various delicate experiments. To interpret the results of their experiments correctly, it's important they're detail-oriented. Attention to detail also ensures they can release accurate information to the public, which can have numerous benefits. These professionals also use this skill in academics when assessing students and preparing lecture materials.

Technical skills

Microbiologists carry out various experiments and research procedures that require the use of various equipment and chemicals. Many of these pieces of equipment are delicate or dangerous and require expertise from the handler to avoid inaccurate results, accidents or injuries. Microbiology professionals also use various software to help them analyse, compile and organise their research results. To perform these tasks, it's important these professionals have the appropriate technical skills.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background, and location.