Career as Microbiologist


Microbiology is the study of microorganisms - little, really little, critters. To be specific, microorganisms are the organisms which can only be seen through a microscope - they form the foundation of the pyramid of life. Some microbes are hugely useful to mankind (the yeast microbe used in baking and brewing, other bacteria and fungi used in the dairy industry to make cheese and curd) and others (those that cause infections in humans, plants and animals) are plainly harmful. Microbiologists investigate the fascinating world of microorganisms. They are in involved both in discovering how to cultivate and use the good ones and how to isolate and then use the infectious ones in formulating vaccines and antibiotics to treat or protect against the very diseases they cause. Every day, microbiologists around the world explore, investigate and discover how microbes exist and affect our lives. Microbiology is an exciting and challenging field because it seeks to find drugs for life-threatening illnesses.

Microbiologists can specialize in a variety of areas. From the food to the space industries, and everywhere in between, there are many opportunities for microbiologists! Following is a list of some of the many career options available to microbiologists.

  • Bacteriologists: Seeks to answer basic questions about bacterial growth, metabolism, diversity and evolution.
  • Biochemists: Discovers and teaches us how organisms obtain energy, consume nutrients and reproduce.
  • Biotechnologists: Manipulates genes in order to modify microorganisms. They produce novel organisms that make new products for human use. (i.e. insulin, medicine, grocery store items).
  • Cell Biologists: Explores the actions of molecules on and in the cell. Their investigations determine how microorganisms and cell function.
  • Environmental Scientists: Investigates the effects of biological, chemical, and geophysical activity on the environment.
  • Geneticists: Studies the process by which organisms inherit and transmit genetic information.
  • Immunologists: Investigates the body's defense against disease to answer basic questions about bacterial growth, metabolism, diversity and evolution.
  • Mycologist: Explores the various uses of molds and yeasts for the production of antibiotics as well as food.
  • Parasitologists: Investigates the complex life cycles of and adaptations made by organisms which depend on other organisms for survival.
  • Virologists: Studies viruses and bacteriophages. Virologists are interested in how viruses change and are always on the alert for new types. They can even choose a career as science writer, who writes articles for common people and professional microbiologists.


Courses & Eligibility

You have to take the science stream, choosing biology as one of your subjects at 10+2 level. A few colleges and universities offer Microbiology at the undergraduate level. But even if your university does not offer it, don’t worry. Just make sure you do your graduation in life science, be it Botany or Zoology or Biochemistry. After an undergrad degree with life sciences, or with at least one subject being a life science, you could apply for a post-grad degree in Microbiology at any one of the number of Indian universities that offer it.

Selection is made on the basis of merit. However, few universities conduct written entrance examination for selecting candidates. You can also specialize in the study of micro-organisms in the fields of their interest such as bacteriology; study of bacteria, mycology; study of fungi and virology; study of viruses.

Different institutes, colleges and universities conduct different entrances for M.Sc. Microbiology across India. The list of entrances is as follows -

The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) - Entrance Exam
Indian Institute of Technology - Entrance Exam
Mahatma Gandhi University: Faculty of Applied Science - Entrance Exam
University of Calicut: Microbiology Entrance Exam
University of Kerala: Faculty of Science - Microbiology Entrance Exam
Aligarh Muslim University - Microbiology Entrance Exam
Assam University - Microbiology Entrance Exam
Banaras Hindu University - Microbiology Entrance Exam
Delhi University, South Campus
Goa University - Microbiology Entrance Exam
Guru Nanak Dev University: M.Sc. Microbiology - Entrance Exam
Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla - Microbiology Entrance Test
Lovely Professional University - Microbiology Entrance Exam
Mahatma Gandhi University - Microbiology Entrance Exam
Manipal Academy of Higher Education - Microbiology Entrance Exam
Osmania University - Microbiology Entrance Exam
University of Calcutta - Microbiology Entrance Exam
University of Mumbai - Microbiology Entrance Exam
University of Pune - Microbiology Entrance Exam

Where To Study

Institutes & Colleges for B.Sc Microbiology:

Delhi University, Faculty of Inter Disciplinary and Applied Sciences, Delhi
Bharathiar University, Maruthamlai Road, Coimbatore
Osmania University, Hyderabad
Mount Carmel College (for Girls), Bangalore
University of Madras, Centenary Buildings Chepauk, Chennai
University of Mysore, Crawford Hall, Mysore
University of Pune, Ganeshkund, Pune

Institutes & Colleges for M.Sc Microbiology:

Delhi University, Faculty of Inter Disciplinary and Applied Sciences, Delhi
Medical Microbiology is offered in institutions like All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Delhi; PIGMER, Chandigarh
MS University, Vadodara
Kurukshetra University, Faculty of Science, Kurukshetra
Orissa University of Agriculture & Technology, Bhubaneswar
Punjab University, Sector-14, Chandigarh
Jiwaji University, Faculty of Sciences & Faculty of Life Sciences, Vidya Vihar, Gwalior
University of Madras, Centenary Buildings Chepauk, Chennai
Hindustan College of Engineering, Chennai
Bombay University, M.G. Road, Fort, Mumbai
University of Pune, Ganeshkund, Pune
Goa University, P.O. Santacruz, Taleigao Plateau, Goa
Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar

Top international colleges:

Harvard University, Boston, MA
Stanford University, Stanford, CA
University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI
Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
University of California, San Francisco, CA
Washington University, St. Louis, MO
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA
University of California, Berkeley, CA
Yale University, New Haven, CT

Pay and Remuneration

Microbiologists who are employed in government / private organizations get remuneration along with perk and other benefits as revised from time to time. In India, the professionals who are working in pharma or biotechnology labs can get starting salary somewhere between Rs.1.2 lakhs to 1.8 lakhs as grade pay. With two or three years of experience, the salary gets doubled.
 Those who are working in government organizations or research labs also get handsome salary with other benefits. The salary ranges from Rs.1.8 lakhs to 2.5 lakhs as grade pay. Those who have M.Sc or PhD degree in microbiology can get a salary ranging from Rs.3.5 lakhs to 7 lakhs a year in reputed industries.

Career Prospects

Microbiologists can either go into pure research, in which case they would work as research scientists in premier government institutions like the National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi, the National Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology, or the National Center for Cell Sciences, Pune, or at private research institutes.

Or they can get into industry and work as part of in-house research teams, developing products for the company they work. All kinds of industry employ microbiologists, but the biggest employers are the pharmaceutical industry, the biotechnology industry, the food and dairy industry, the fermentation industry, the agricultural industry and the environmental industry. A lot of microbiologists also work in hospitals, diagnostic laboratories, and universities.

Microbiologists in industry could be involved in quality control – testing random samples of vaccines, antibiotics, vitamins, food samples, dairy products, antiseptics and disinfectants, for instance, before they go out into the market. They might also work at identifying disease-causing organisms in water, air, or human and animal blood, or at developing life-saving drugs or more effective vaccines.

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