How to become a Microbiologist

Microbiologists study microscopic forms of life such as bacteria, viruses, protozoa, algae and fungi to increase scientific knowledge and develop medical, veterinary, industrial, environmental and other practical applications.

Personal requirements of a Microbiologist

  • Enjoy and have aptitude for science and research
  • Able to think logically and analytically
  • Able to carry out detailed and accurate work
  • Able to think creatively and solve problems

Education & Training for a Microbiologist

To become a microbiologist you usually have to complete a degree in science, biomedical science, medical science or health science at university with a major in microbiology. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics are normally required. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.

Duties & Tasks of a Microbiologist


  • develop products, such as antibiotics, detergents or cosmetics
  • test samples from patients, isolating and identifying the microbes that cause illness
  • prevent and control the spread of harmful microbes in hospitals, the food industry and the general population
  • advise the government about public health policies
  • examine natural products
  • investigate the potential of microbes to improve human and animal health through nutrition
  • develop and improve fermented drinks and foods
  • research the microbiology of plants
  • study DNA and the use of bacteria to introduce specially engineered genes into an organism
  • use their knowledge of microbiology to minimise environmental impact
  • investigate the ways in which microorganisms can be used to improve and enhance products

Employment Opportunities for a Microbiologist

Microbiologists are employed in federal, state, territory and local government organisations, including research organisations and hospitals. They are also employed in the private sector in a wide range of industries, such as agriculture, food production, private pathology and pharmaceuticals.

Avg. weekly wage:


Future growth:


Employment by state:

ACT 2.3%

NSW 27.6%

NT 1.4%

QLD 19.8%

SA 5.1%

TAS 2.4%

VIC 35.6%

WA 5.7%

Hours worked:



Average unemployment

Gender split:

Male 29%

Female 71%

Education level:

Highest qualification is secondary school: 2.3%

Highest qualification is a Certificate 3 or 4: 0.4%

Highest qualification is a Diploma or Advanced Diploma: 3.8%

Highest qualification is a Bachelor degree: 57.1%

Highest qualification is a Postgraduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 36.4%

Age brackets:

15-19 - 0.1%

20-24 - 6.1%

25-34 - 26.8%

35-44 - 22.6%

45-54 - 19.5%

55-59 - 8.2%

60-64 - 7.1%

65 and Over - 9.5%

*The data above is sourced from the Department of Employment’s Job Outlook website.

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