Microbiology Technician: Salary and Career Facts

Explore the job duties of a microbiology technician. Read about the education required for this job, the employment options and the typical salary for these specialized science technicians. Schools offering Biology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Microbiology Technician Do?

Microbiology technicians help microbiologists identify microorganisms, such as bacteria, that are found in samples of water, blood or other substances. They assist in the execution of experiments by preparing and maintaining equipment, such as test tubes, and gathering specimen samples for analysis. They're also responsible for performing tests and completing data reports. Most work on research teams. The following chart gives an overview of what you should know before you enter this profession.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Associate's: biology; bachelor's: microbiology
Key Skills Conduct lab tests to identify microorganisms; document findings; maintain lab equipment
Job Growth (2014-2024 ) 5% for biological technicians*
Median Salary (2015) $41,650 for biological technicians*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is a Microbiology Technician?

As a microbiology technician, your primary role will be to aid scientists and microbiologists in their research. You will act as an assistant during laboratory experiments that examine how microscopic organisms behave and evolve. In some cases, you'll be responsible for analyzing samples of water, food, blood or hazardous waste.

Additional duties may include preparing equipment, gathering specimens, organizing slides, labeling findings and documenting results. You could be responsible for keeping the laboratory as well as lab equipment clean and manageable.

What Type of Education Will I Need?

You'll need at least an associate's degree in biology or a similar field in order to find work as a microbiology technician; some positions may require a bachelor's degree. Earning a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology could provide you with a foundational background in biological principles, general chemistry, microbiology and physics. You may study more advanced topics like medical bacteriology, virology or immunology. While enrolled in such a program, you'll also learn how to work in a laboratory setting and perform experiments using the scientific method. You can usually earn a bachelor's degree after four years of study.

Where Might I Find Work?

As a microbiology technician, you might find a position working under a scientist in a university or college laboratory. Additional job opportunities may be available in the research laboratories of a biotechnology or pharmaceutical company. Some microbiology technicians work for commercial laboratories that specialize in environmental testing; others may test food samples in the laboratories of food processing companies. After gaining some experience, you could be promoted to a managerial position, like laboratory supervisor.

What Salary Can I Expect to Earn?

Biological technicians in general, including microbiology technicians, held 72,900 jobs in the United States in May 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Industries with the highest levels of employment were scientific research and development services, universities, the federal government, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and hospitals. During the same period, the average annual salary for biological technicians was $45,230, with management of companies and enterprises being the highest-paying employer with an average of $61,420 per year.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Some related alternative careers include forensic science technicians, geoscientists and zoologists and wildlife biologists. Forensic science technicians gather and study criminal investigation evidence. Geoscientists study Earth's physical elements and properties to gain an understanding of its history and future. Zoologists and wildlife biologists research plants and animals to understand how they function and interact with other species.

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