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Microbiologist Green Job

Microbiologists study organisms like bacteria, viruses, fungi and algae to make advances in environmental science, medicine and agriculture.

Annual Salary

£23,000 to £45,000

Average UK salary in 2023 was £34,963
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

38 to 40 a week

You could work: between 8am and 6pm; flexibly

Future employment

There will be 2.4% more Microbiologist jobs in 2027.

Day to day tasks

As a microbiologist, you could:

  • test patient samples to identify infections and monitor outbreaks
  • develop new medical treatments using microbiology techniques
  • investigate how microorganisms make antibodies, vaccines and hormones
  • assess the impact of microbes in foods, crops and soils
  • check the safety of manufactured food or medicines
  • use microorganisms to control pollution and develop biofuels

Working environment

You may need to wear protective clothing.

You could work at a university or in a laboratory.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role

To become a microbiologist, you could do a degree in:

  • microbiology
  • biology
  • life sciences
  • biological science

Some degree courses include an integrated master's qualification like MBiol or MSci. You'll usually have more time for independent research and they're designed to lead directly onto further postgraduate study like a PhD.

Training programme for the NHS

If you want to work in the NHS as a microbiologist, you could apply to the Scientist Training Programme (STP) after your degree.

You'll train on the job, get paid a salary and receive a master's degree at the end.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science
  • 2 or 3 A levels, or equivalent, including biology for a degree
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study
For more information

You may be able to become a microbiologist by doing an apprenticeship, for example:

  • Laboratory Scientist Level 6 Degree Apprenticeship
  • Research Scientist Level 7 Degree Apprenticeship

These apprenticeships can take between 3 and 5 years to complete.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a degree apprenticeship
For more information

You might be able to get into microbiology by working your way up from a laboratory technician.

You would need to study part time for a biological science degree or degree apprenticeship while you work.

Volunteering and work experience

You may improve your career prospects if you can get some work experience in a lab.

You can find opportunities with the NHS, as part of your degree course or by working during the holidays. Your university can also help you find volunteering opportunities.

More information

Professional and industry bodies

You can join the Microbiology Society to get professional recognition, find training opportunities and make new contacts.

Further information

You can get more advice about working in microbiology from the Microbiology Society and Health Careers.

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With experience, you could:manage a team of microbiologists and technicians; move into commercial research and development; teach at university; offer consultancy services

In the NHS, you could progress to specialist, team manager and consultant.

The Microbiology Society and the Society for Applied Microbiology offer grants to support students looking for work experience. 

How does this job help to address the impacts of climate change and protect wildlife and nature in the West of England?

Microbiologists may be involved in research into the use microorganisms to control pollution and develop biofuels.

Examples of post-16 courses you could study at local schools or colleges

  • Biology,  Environmental Science A-levels
  • Level 3 Applied Science

Click here to find a local provider

Apprenticeships you may be able to take with local employers

  • Level 6 Laboratory Scientist Degree Apprenticeship
  • Level 7 Research Scientist Degree Apprenticeship

Click here to search for a local apprenticeship

Examples of post-18 courses you could study at local higher education providers

Click here to search for other university courses

Click here for an explanation of the different course and apprenticeship levels.

Local employers 

  • Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
  • RSK Biocensus
  • Wessex Water

For more local employment opportunities see the 'Live job vacancies by region' section above.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • knowledge of biology
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • maths knowledge
  • science skills
  • the ability to work well with others
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • analytical thinking skills
  • excellent written communication skills
  • knowledge of English language
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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