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Microbiologists study micro-organisms like bacteria, viruses, fungi and algae.

Annual Salary

£18,821 to £47,642

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

38 to 40 a week

You could work: between 8am and 6pm; flexibly

Future employment

There will be 3% more Microbiologist jobs in 2026.
In your local area

Day to day tasks

As part of your day-to-day duties, you might:

  • monitor, identify and help to control infectious diseases
  • use molecular biology techniques to develop and test new medicines and treatments
  • investigate how microorganisms produce antibodies, vaccines, hormones and other biotechnology products
  • assess the use of microbes in food production, crop protection and soil fertility
  • monitor the quality and safety of manufactured food and medical products
  • use microorganisms to control pollution and dispose of waste safely

You might also:

  • present research findings
  • supervise the work of support staff
  • carry out administrative tasks

Working environment

You may need to wear protective clothing.

You could work at a university or in a laboratory.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role

You could do a degree in a subject like microbiology, biology or biological science.

Some employers may ask for a relevant postgraduate qualification and work experience.

You may be able to do an integrated postgraduate master's qualification like a MBiolSci, MBiol or MSci. These courses include independent research and can lead onto further postgraduate study for a PhD.

If you want to work in the NHS as a microbiologist, you could apply to the Scientist Training Programme (STP) after your degree.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science
  • 2 or 3 A levels, or equivalent, including biology for a degree
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study
For more information

You may be able to start by doing a laboratory scientist or research scientist degree apprenticeship.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship
For more information

You may find it possible to get into microbiology by working your way up from a laboratory technician job. You would usually study part-time for a relevant science degree or degree apprenticeship while you work.

Volunteering and work experience

You could improve your career prospects if you get some work experience. This could be with the NHS, as part of a sandwich degree course or through a placement with a company during the holidays. Your university can advise you on voluntary opportunities.

More information

Professional and industry bodies

You can find out more about professional registration as a scientist from the Science Council.

Further information

You can get more advice about working in microbiology from the Microbiology Society and Health Careers.

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You could move into lab management, research or teaching.

In the NHS you could progress to specialist, team manager and consultant.

You could also offer consultancy services in areas like pharmaceutical sales, publishing and law.

The Microbiology Society and the Society for Applied Microbiology offer grants to support students looking for work experience. 

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • knowledge of biology
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • maths knowledge
  • science skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • analytical thinking skills
  • excellent written communication skills
  • knowledge of English language
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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