Veterinary Immunobiology and Microbiology

Veterinary immunobiology and microbiology is a broad field offering the opportunity to perform research that could change lives. Learn more about this field, how to work in it, what careers are available and possible earning potential.

Is Veterinary Immunobiology and Microbiology for Me?

Career Overview

Veterinary immunobiology and microbiology involves using scientific techniques to address human and animal health problems. These problems often relate to environmental factors like toxins and infectious agents. If you're interested in veterinary science, but want to focus on research rather than veterinary practice, this could be a career option for you.

To work in veterinary immunobiology and microbiology, you typically need a graduate degree. Most positions are in research or teaching, and some jobs may combine both of these tasks. You might be employed at a university, pharmaceutical company or government institution, most likely working in a lab, classroom or other comfortable setting. You'll likely need good communication skills for writing grant proposals, presenting research results and working with other scientific professionals.

Salary and Employment Outlook

With an education in veterinary immunobiology and microbiology, you could be prepared for a career as a microbiologist. Based on salary data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in May 2013, you might expect to earn about $67,840 per year in this field (www.bls.gov). However, this was the median annual wage estimated for all microbiologists, not just those working in veterinary microbiology. The BLS also reported that during the 2012-2022 decade, there would be a 7% growth in employment of microbiologists, which is considered to be about as fast as the average growth for all other occupations during that period.

How Can I Work in Veterinary Immunobiology and Microbiology?

Education Programs

Several schools offer Master of Science (M.S.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs in veterinary immunobiology, microbiology and related fields like veterinary immunology, veterinary pathology, biomedical sciences and veterinary preventive medicine. These programs are typically distinct from a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program, although they are usually offered through a school or college of veterinary medicine. A DVM program typically includes some courses in veterinary immunology and microbiology, however.

An immunobiology program is an interdisciplinary program that combines the study of immunology with microbiology, biophysics, pathology and several other disciplines. Other programs focus more heavily on either immunology or microbiology alone. A master's degree typically requires two years of full-time study to earn, whereas a doctoral program often takes at least four years beyond the master's degree. Upon graduation, you could be prepared for board certification from the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine.

Admission Requirements

The minimum entrance requirement for immunobiology and microbiology programs is typically a bachelor's degree, often with a major in biological sciences. However, such programs are sometimes designed for students or graduates of a professional veterinary or medical program, such as a DVM or Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) program.

Topics of Study

At both the master's and doctoral level, such programs are likely to require a lot of research and lab work. Courses you might take include environmental immunology, biochemistry, infectious disease immunology, veterinary microbiology, immunopathology, microbial pathogenesis, veterinary virology, immunotoxicology and statistical methods. Additionally, you're typically required to complete original research for a thesis in a master's degree program or a dissertation in a doctoral program.

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