Job Description: What does a microbiologist do?

Published by Fed engineering : in Pharmaceutical, Biomedicine and Chemistry
on 27/01/2023

Job Description: What does a microbiologist do?

When we think of a microbiologist, we immediately picture someone in a lab coat surrounded by microscopes, Erlenmeyer flasks, wash bottles and reagent bottles filled with coloured liquids or mysterious organisms.

In reality, a microbiologist (also called a microbiology engineer) has a tremendous amount of responsibility. Their work has repercussions on the food we eat as well as many other aspects of daily life. Fed Ingénierie, an engineering recruitment agency, offers you a portrait of this vitally important profession.

What is microbiology?

Microbiology focuses on the study of microorganisms – how they interact, live and evolve.  Whether they are viruses, bacteria or fungi, these tiny life forms are identified, analyzed and categorized by microbiologists, always with the goal of discovering how they can be useful to science.

For example, microbiology helps scientists develop ways to use bacteria in cooking and the development of new pharmaceutical treatments.

What sectors do microbiologists work in?

A microbiologist is someone who has followed specific training and has specialized knowledge. A microbiology technician or engineer can work in many different sectors. Not that the wide range of opportunities will often lead people to call themselves microbiologists when they are in fact not.

Drugs and pharmaceuticals

In the pharmaceutical and biomedical fields, a microbiologist will be involved in the analysis of viruses, and in furthering medical research to find ways to use bacteria against disease or illness­.

Agriculture and agri-food sectors

Preventing contamination is essential within the agriculture and agri-food industries, and a microbiologist plays an important role in this domain. A microbiologist will ensure the proper preservation of a food and verify the microbiological quality of that food. They will be implicated both at the level of food microbiology and within the greater agricultural process.

Environmental sector

You will also find microbiologists among the varied positions within the domain of energy, environment and electricity. Environmental microbiologists work for government agencies or companies to monitor air, water and soil quality. They may also conduct research on the impacts of pollutants on microorganisms and ecosystems.

Industrial sector

The microbiologist in the industrial field performs tasks related to the manufacturing of industrial products and the prevention of contamination. They can also intervene in waste management efforts by studying the processes leading to the degradation of certain molecules and facilitating decontamination processes, or by improving the quality of a product.

Microbiologist duties and tasks

The tasks performed by a microbiologist vary greatly depending on the field in which they work.

In general, the primary tasks of a microbiology engineer include:

  • Researching and developing new products and processes using microorganisms
  • Designing and implementing biological production systems
  • Monitoring the quality of final products
  • Solving problems related to the growth of microorganisms
  • Implementing safety procedures to manage risks associated with the handling of microorganisms.

New product development also forms part of their duties.

Skills needed to become a microbiologist

In addition to interpersonal skills such as good communication and the ability to share scientific results and findings with a team, microbiologists must demonstrate critical and creative thinking to develop high quality research hypotheses. They need flexibility to face the challenges that may arise in their field of research, and they must expect to continually acquire new skills.

Required knowledge

Microbiologists must have a good understanding of the different types of microorganisms, their biology, their evolution and their roles within the environment.

Mastery of laboratory technique

Microbiologists must be able to use laboratory equipment and methods to study microorganisms. This includes cultivation, handling, analysis and sterilization of samples.

Computer and statistics skills

Microbiologists must be able to interpret data obtained from laboratory experiments and use it to develop conclusions and hypotheses. It is also necessary to have a familiarity with the proper use of Microsoft Office and other computer tools such as statistics software.

Compliance with regulatory hygiene standards

Microbiologists must be aware of the risks associated with microorganisms and know how to manage them without risk of contamination and disease. Compliance with regulatory hygiene standards is always necessary.

How to become a microbiologist

A microbiologist is expected to have a master's degree or doctorate, although this title is not protected by a specific Order and may be used by anyone.

Scientific research requires specialized knowledge, which is why it is important to keep up to date with the latest scientific advances in the field so that you remain competent in your work.

To become a microbiologist, you may pursue training as an agri-environmental engineer or water engineer and find courses in microbiology that will offer you the required concepts and skills. Appropriate training is available at the University of Laval in Quebec City, which also offers specific degrees in microbiology, such as the Doctorate in Microbiology.

 Microbiologist salary

It is difficult to identify a typical salary for this profession, as microbiologists can find work in such a variety of fields and positions. As a rough guide, the Canadian government's Guichet Emplois cites the hourly wage for microbiologists in Quebec as ranging from $23.50 to $46.50, with an average pay of $38.50 per hour.

Find a job as a microbiologist at Fed Ingénierie

A microbiologist has a real impact on society, using their practical understanding and use of microorganisms to benefit human health, the environment and industry.

Whether you are looking for a job in microbiology as a technician or engineer, Fed Ingénierie can help you find a position. Contact us or submit a spontaneous application.

Don't miss any openings of interest anymore ! Create an alert
No opening matches with your search ? Send us your resume
You are looking for
this kind of profile ? Entrust us with a job