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Clinical Microbiologist Duties and Responsibilities

While a clinical microbiologist's day-to-day duties and responsibilities are determined by the type of laboratory or organization they work in, there are many core tasks associated with the role. Based on our analysis of job listings, these include:

Help Physicians Diagnose Illnesses Clinical microbiologists consult with physicians and aid them with selecting treatments. It is their job to identify the appropriate microbiological test needed to diagnose the illness of a patient. Additionally, a clinical microbiologist may take cultures of organisms and test food and other substances for poisonous agents. Once a test is completed, a clinical microbiologist reports the results to the physician and makes an expert recommendation.

Managing Medical Technologist Teams Managing a team of highly trained medical technologists is one of a clinical microbiologist's most important tasks. A microbiologist's team calls upon their leadership to help analyze test results, answer questions, or provide advice for unusual results that are hard to distinguish.

Develop New Scientific Experiments Clinical microbiologists also develop and implement new testing experiments. It is their job to decide what equipment and material they need in order to innovate microbiological testing procedures. Some clinical microbiologists are placed in charge of their own research lab in order to perform the new tests they invent.

Develop New Technologies to Control Emerging Diseases Clinical microbiologists commonly work with medical device manufacturers or pharmaceutical companies to improve technologies aimed at confronting emerging diseases. They select the most appropriate tests for identifying viruses, parasites, fungi, and bacteria. They can also work to produce viral vaccines and other substances. Clinical microbiologists must also keep up to date with the latest scientific literature in order to create technologies that are clinically sound, fast, and cost-effective.

Improve Infectious Disease Treatment Policies Clinical microbiologists routinely work with healthcare teams and public health professionals to improve the infection disease control processes. They actively facilitate communication among stakeholders to suggest procedures that can reduce contamination rates. For example, they may recommend an improved method for transporting clinical specimens or contribute to an international project that shapes health policy for a certain industry.


Clinical Microbiologist Skills and Qualifications

People who are outgoing and enjoy using scientific research to improve human health will succeed as clinical microbiologists. Employers seek candidates with a bachelor's level or advanced degree in biological science, a state issued microbiologist license, three years of clinical laboratory experience, and the following skills:
  • Laboratory testing - clinical microbiologists must possess complete knowledge of how to perform lab tests and utilize lab equipment
  • Diagnostic skills - analyzing test results for physicians and providing diagnosis outcomes is a key duty for clinical microbiologists
  • Leadership skills - employers expect clinical microbiologists to effectively manage a team and demonstrate leadership ability
  • Safety skills - senior clinical microbiologists are expected to run lab operations according to established safety guidelines
  • Communication skills - clearly sharing complex biological concepts in a concise, easy to understand way is an important requirement for clinical biologists
  • Organizational skills - clinical microbiologists are responsible for determining what resources, materials, and personnel they need to manage multiple requests at the same time

Clinical Microbiologist Education and Training

A bachelor's degree in microbiology or a related science field is required for entry-level clinical microbiology positions. However, many employers strongly prefer candidates to have an advanced Master of Science or doctoral degree. Employers likewise expect candidates to possess a valid state and professional license to practice as a clinical microbiologist scientist. A minimum of three years of hands-on experience in a clinical microbiology laboratory setting or in the development of diagnostic tests is also required.

Clinical Microbiologist Salary and Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for microbiologists is $69,960. Earners in the top ten percent make more than $129,560 and the lowest ten percent of earners make less than $40,540. Full-time clinical biologists usually receive a full benefits package that includes health insurance. Industry employment for microbiologists is expected to grow eight percent through 2026, which the BLS notes as about as fast as average for all occupations. As industrial production continues to grow, more microbiologists will be needed to provide basic research.

Helpful Resources

We searched the web for the best industry resources to help you continue exploring a career as clinical microbiologist. Here are more ways to learn whether becoming one is right for you.

American Society for Microbiology (ASM) - the oldest and largest single life science membership organization in the world that offers resources, latest industry news, job listings, and career advice for aspiring clinical microbiologists.

American Board of Medical Microbiology (ABMM) - the official national organization that certifies doctoral-level microbiologists to direct medical and public health microbiology laboratories. American Board of Pathology-Medical Microbiology - a national organization that certifies pathological microbiologists. Get educational resources, training, and more from this website.

International Society for Microbiology (ISME) - get access to a global network, free job and event postings, lectures from microbiological thought leaders, and more from this nonprofit organization.

Clinical Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple - this popular book among aspiring microbiologists features fun drawings and charts to help you memorize organisms and study for a microbiologist licensing exam.

Microbiology: Clinical Microbiology Made Easy: An Introduction and Concise Learning Guide to Master the Fundamentals - kick-start your comprehension of the microbial world in this book designed for those new to the field of clinical microbiology.

"So You Want to Be a Clinical Microbiologist?" - read this first-hand account of what a day in the life of a clinical microbiologist is really like, and discover how to advance your career.

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