What is Applied Microbiology?

Applied MicrobiologyWhat is applied microbiology? This field is the study of micro-organisms is used to solve problems relating to public health, the environment, and agriculture. The term micro-organism is very broad and refers to any organism that can only be seen under a microscope, a group that includes many types of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other single and multicelled organisms. Read on to learn about careers in the applied microbiology field.

What Do Microbiologists Do?

Microbiologists are scientists that study micro-organisms to learn how they behave in a variety of environments, and use this knowledge to solve problems that affect humanity. For example, the work of applied microbiologists is used in finding cures for diseases, coming up with effective and safe pesticides, and protecting the environment from damage. Microbiologists typically work in scientific research labs and in the field, and can specialize in viruses, bacteria, industry, environment, medicine, and other subgenres of the field.

What Type of Education is Needed?

Most microbiologists first obtain a bachelor’s degree in microbiology in order to obtain an entry level position, but a doctorate degree is needed to conduct original research in the field as well as to teach. In most cases, years of laboratory experience is needed before the Ph.D. degree in the field of applied microbiology is obtained, with research funding for doctors of applied microbiology quite competitive. In addition to science classes and lab work, students must have a strong understanding of mathematics and statistics in order to complete the data analysis needed in this field.

How Much Do Microbiologists Earn?

Earnings in this field are largely dependent on years of experience, with scientists with more experience who conduct original research earning much more than those in entry-level lab positions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for applied microbiologists is approximately $66,260, with the lowest-paid ten percent earning less than $39,720 and the highest paid ten percent earning more than $117,000. The highest paid jobs in applied microbiology are those in the federal government, followed by pharmacy and medicine; physical and life sciences; state and local government; and education.

Related Resource: Specializations in Health Sciences

What is the Career Outlook in Applied Microbiology?

Opportunities in this field are expected to grow by seven percent over the next 10 years, which is slower than the growth of most other professions. However, as the need for new medicines and treatments grows and the field of biotechnology rapidly expands, prospects for applied microbiologists will continue to be solid. Since careers largely depend on federal funding, the availability of positions in this field fluctuates from year to year as priorities shift.

The primary professional organization for applied microbiology is the American Society for Microbiology. In addition to publishing the preeminent academic journal in the field, the American Society for Microbiology maintains resources for those interested in careers in applied microbiology, as well as education for the general public and for students as young as kindergarten. Their website is an excellent source for Americans of all ages and backgrounds to learn more about what is applied microbiology.