Microbiologist Career Information
What a Microbiologist does
Various species of microorganism like bacteria, virus, fungus, and amoeba exist in trillion of numbers. Study of these microorganisms, vis-à-vis, their life cycle and nature is a specialised science called Microbiology.
Microbiologists are involved in extensive research to understand the physiology of microorganisms and the cause and development of microbial diseases in plants and animals.
Microbiologists study disease causing microorganism as well as beneficial microorganism. They research the physiology and genetic profile of microorganism, determine their life cycle, how do they cause diseases, and how to prevent and cure the diseases. They are also involved in researching plant and animal diseases and identifying microorganism responsible for the diseases. They also identify and research medicines that may cure and prevent the diseases.
Microorganisms also benefit plant and animal lives and there are quite a large number of them. Researching and studying their life cycles, physiology, and genetic profile are also the responsibilities of microbiologists. They research newer ways in which these beneficial microorganisms can be used for development of drugs, production of enzymes, food processing and toxic waste disposal.
Microbiologists generally work in laboratories of university departments, research and development organisations, government organisations in the health sector, hospitals, and various industries like food processing, pharmaceutical, agricultural, beverage, biomedical, bioprocess, diagnostic industry and other related industries.
Most of the laboratories are air-conditioned and the environment inside the laboratories are aseptic (free of microorganism). In university departments, you will work as faculty member (Lecturer, Reader, or Professor), as a Research Assistant or Research Scholar. In various research organisations, one begins as a research assistant, research scholar, or junior scientist and then goes on to become Senior Scientist, Principle Scientist, Project Director or Programme Director. The pinnacle of your career will be either as the Principle/ Head of the department in a university or college or as the Director of a research organisation.
In industries, you may find work in research and development, analytical, or production departments. Some of the microbiologists work in marketing department of companies involved in diagnostic, food processing, pharmaceutical, and agricultural industries. Many of the microbiologists are involved in quality control of food products and drugs.
Microbiologists assume different roles in these industries. Some of their roles are:
• Diagnosis of the causes of animal diseases of microbial origin
• Analysis of processed foods and medicines to ensure that the materials are safe for human consumption
• Development and production of vaccines, enzymes and insulin
• Research and development of drugs
• Research and study of plant diseases; development and production of insecticides and anti-microbial chemicals
• Genetic engineering of microorganisms to prevent and cure plant and animal diseases
• Marketing of diagnostic materials, pharmaceuticals, processed foods and beverages
As a Microbiologist you can get a job in research and development in:
• University departments
• Biological research and development organisations like Institute of Microbial Technology, National Institute of Communicable Diseases, and National Centre for Biological Science
• Medical research organisations under Indian Council for Medical Research
• Agricultural research organisations under Indian Council for Agricultural Research
• Dairy and animal research institutions
• You can also get a job in the Research & Development/ Analytical/ Production/ Sales & Marketing departments of: Pharmaceutical and Bulk Drug manufacturing companies like Ranbaxy and Torrent
• Food processing companies like Hindustan Lever, Smith Cline Beecham and Glaxo
• Beverage manufacturing companies like United Breweries
• Diagnostic companies like Span and Monozyme
• Hospitals like Apollo and Bombay hospital
• Biotechnology and bioprocess technology based companies like Shanta Biotechnics, National Immunological
• Dairy and Poultry firms like Arambagh Hatcheries and various other related organizations
Microbiology is an essential part of Life Science or Bioscience. In the 21st century Life science is going to be very big. It will bring in enormous changes in the way we live, get medical care and take medicines. Prospects of newer ways of medical care, newer biological and healthcare products are plenty. We may buy a biochip in the near future which can be placed under the skin to boost our immunity system. This will protect us from microbial diseases. We will see a cure-all medicine that can cure any microbial disease. We may see a genetically developed microorganism, which will detoxicate toxic wastes. We may see another genetically developed bacteria, which will shield crops from attack of microbial diseases.
Biological research and development of all these products will need Life Scientists in more numbers. So the prospects of all Life Scientists including the microbiologists are definitely bright.
Abilities & Traits Required
First of all, you must have a strong interest in Biological Sciences. As a Microbiologist you should be able to develop a clear understanding of the principles of Biological Sciences. An analytical and inquisitive mind will help.
You should be prepared to study a lot. Study of Biological Science and making a career in this field is real hard work and it takes a long time to build up a career.
Now look at the educational qualifications needed to be a microbiologist. Any one of these qualifications will lead you to a career in Microbiology.
• MSc/PhD in Microbiology
• MD in Microbiology
• MSc/ PhD in Agricultural Science with specialisation in Microbiology
• MPharm/ PhD in Microbiology
• MVSc/ PhD with specialisation in Animal Microbiology
• MSc/ PhD in Biomedical Science with specialisation in Microbiology
• MSc/ MTech/ PhD in Biotechnology with specialisation in Industrial Microbiology
In university departments and research organisations, you will start at Rs 15000 -18000 a month as a faculty member or as a junior scientist. You will earn Rs 10000 a month as a research assistant or research scholar. The maximum remuneration you can earn in these organisations as a Microbiologist is Rs 25000 as per the present scale. However, this scale is currently under revision and the remuneration is likely to be increased by at least 20 per cent.
In industries, you may have to start at a slightly lower salary but eventually you will earn much more than those in academic fields. You will begin at Rs 10000 -12000 a month. In senior positions, you could earn anywhere between Rs 30000 - 70000 a month.