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How to become a Microbiologist in the UK

Published: Sunday 3rd January 2021

What does a Microbiologist in the UK do?

Microbiologists in the UK are responsible for the study of microscopic organisms that cause infections, including bacteria, fungi, viruses and algae. Through testing, research and development, they identify the growth of these organisms to try and understand their characteristics. 

The purpose of microbiology jobs is to help prevent, diagnose and treat infectious diseases. The job can come with dangers as you will need to collect samples of sometimes unknown and deadly diseases. But your role can be incredibly rewarding and play a key part in saving lives from various illnesses.

working as a microbiologist in the UK

What qualifications and skills do Microbiologists need?

To become a microbiologist in the UK, you will need a degree in microbiology or a related field. In order to get onto a microbiology course, most universities set the entry requirements to 5 A-levels (A* – C grades), including English, Maths and Science. 

By doing an Integrated master’s qualification such as MBiolSci, MBiol or MSci you’re giving yourself the chance to go straight onto a PhD in your chosen field. As well as a good knowledge of biology, the following skills may also be useful:

  • Strong attention to detail
  • Independent thinking and reasoning
  • Maths knowledge
  • General scientific understanding
  • Excellent verbal and written communication
  • Analytical thought process
  • Interpersonal skills

Where can a microbiologist in the UK work?

Those who wish to work as a microbiologist may find themselves in hospitals, universities, medical schools, or in government laboratories. You could work in lots of different industries and specialise in a variety of areas, from agriculture to the space industry. There may be times when you need to conduct Independent research as well if you want to pursue your own theories and experiments. With a PhD in a related scientific field, you could be a laboratory technician, biomedical scientist, study molecular biology, or work in the food industry.

microbiologist using petri dishes

What are the career prospects of a Microbiologist?

An average microbiologist salary in the UK is around £39,000 a year. With more experience and responsibility following successful research projects, you could earn more than £45,000 a year. Registered clinical scientists working in the microbiology field within the NHS generally sit within this pay bracket. 

The job security for microbiologists is very good, with the right qualifications and skills being hard to come by. You could eventually go into a director of microbiology role within a lab and orchestrate large scale scientific operations within biological science for the entire UK. This could come with a significant salary increase, allowing you to earn between £50,000 and £100,000 depending on the employer and your level of experience.  

There is the possibility to also work as a university lecturer alongside another job. After many years of experience you will

Pros and cons of working as a Microbiologist

There is a lot of hard work that goes into becoming a microbiologist, and this will continue during your career. You will sometimes work long hours and be responsible for handling dangerous substances and pathogens. There is also a shortage of microbiology roles outside of major UK cities, with the exception being in universities and privately owned labs. So you may need to consider commuting or relocating for work.

However on the plus side you can help make a difference in the real world and assist in curing many diseases. There is a healthy salary available and great job security. If you’re looking for a job in microbiology then start your search with Zoek.

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