Microbiology is the branch of scientific study that is concerned with the study of microorganisms. Starting a career in microbiology allows you to study microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, algae, fungi, and some types of parasites. As a microbiologist, you can specialise in different areas such as research, clinical roles, food, environmental, petroleum, etc. Because of the ubiquity of microorganisms, microbiologists are needed in these industry sectors to control and avert the harmful effects of microorganisms. Additionally, microbiologists study the characteristics, life cycles and other aspects of microscopic organisms.


Furthermore, microbiologists can decide to carve a niche in different areas of this field. They can decide to focus on areas such as virology, immunology or bioinformatics. Microbiologists use a variety of techniques to study these organisms, such as microscopy, DNA sequencing, and culturing techniques. Microbiology is a broad field of study. Therefore, before you consider starting a career in microbiology, you need to make sure that you understand the details of the field.


In this piece, I will discuss the process of how to start a career in Microbiology.


How to start a career in Microbiology

  1. Complete your Secondary Education

    You must complete your secondary education before you can start a career in microbiology. Additionally, you should have a strong foundation in subjects such as biology, chemistry and physics, English and mathematics. These subjects will give you foundational knowledge that will be useful when you start studying in a tertiary institution.

  2. Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree

    A bachelor’s degree is very useful in this career. This degree will equip you with a fundamental understanding of microorganisms and their general functions. Therefore, you should obtain a bachelor’s degree in microbiology. Additionally, you should ensure that your degree contains relevant coursework. It should contain coursework such as microbiology, biochemistry, etc, and genetics.

  3. Gain Laboratory Experience

    You need to have laboratory experience as a microbiologist. These experiences can be a great addition to your resume and your skill set. You can get these experiences through ways such as internships or research projects. Additionally, you can work as a research assistant or a laboratory technician.

  4. Gain Advanced Degrees

    This may not be compulsory for most employers. However, pursuing a master’s or a Ph.D. can give you access to higher opportunities and more career prospects. You can get higher roles in areas such as research, academia, and other specialised areas of microbiology.

  5. Obtain Additional Certification

    You can consider acquiring certifications that are relevant to this field. This can increase your knowledge as a microbiologist. Additionally, it can give you a higher advantage than employers. Furthermore, it can allow you to become a member of professional associations in microbiology.

  6. Gain Work Experience

    You must acquire work experience after obtaining your degrees. You can gain work experience in places such as laboratories, in the field, companies, or clinics.


Types of Microbiologists

  1. Agricultural Microbiologists: Agricultural microbiologists investigate the role of microorganisms in agriculture, such as soil microbiology, plant-microbe interactions, and animal microbiology. Additionally, they work in research institutions or the private sector, developing new technologies to boost crop yields and animal health.
  2. Medical Microbiologists: Medical microbiologists specialise in medical facilities such as hospitals and clinics. They are in charge of identifying and treating infectious diseases that arise from bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other
  3. Marine Microbiologists: Marine microbiologists study microorganisms that live in marine environments such as the ocean floor and coral reefs. They could work in research institutions or the private sector, creating new technologies for monitoring and protecting marine ecosystems.
  4. Industrial Microbiologists: Industrial microbiologists create and produce goods such as enzymes, vaccines, and antibiotics in the biotechnology sector. Additionally, they are employed in the food sector, developing and evaluating recipes and production methods.
  5. Environmental Microbiologists: Environmental microbiologists investigate the interactions between microorganisms and their surroundings. They could work in industries such as agriculture, food production, or environmental management.
  6. Veterinary Microbiologists: Professionals in veterinary microbiology investigate the microbes responsible for animal illnesses. They create novel diagnostic procedures and therapeutic approaches for animal illnesses while employed in veterinary practices and research facilities.


Work Environments for Microbiologists

  1. Research laboratories
  2. Clinical laboratories
  3. Environmental Studies
  4. Food Industries
  5. Education
  6. Petroleum Industries


Universities in Africa that Offer Microbiology

  1. University of Pretoria, South Africa
  2. Cairo University, Egypt
  3. University of Cape Town, South Africa
  4. University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
  5. Alexandria University, Egypt
  6. University of Ibadan, Nigeria
  7. Makerere University, Uganda
  8. Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
  9. University of Nigeria, Nigeria
  10. Tanta University, Egypt
  11. University of Nairobi, Kenya
  12. Suez Canal University, Egypt
  13. University of Fort Hare, South Africa
  14. Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria
  15. University of Ghana, Ghana
  16. University of Monastir, Tunisia
  17. Tunis University, Tunisia
  18. University of Gondar, Ethiopia
  19. North-West University, South Africa
  20. Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria
  21. University of Lagos, Nigeria
  22. University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe
  23. Beni-Suef University, Egypt
  24. University of Khartoum, Sudan
  25. University of Dschang, Cameroon
  26. Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana
  27. University of Malawi, Malawi
  28. Rhodes University, South Africa
  29. University of Abomey-Calavi, Benin
  30. Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa
  31. Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Tanzania
  32. Jimma University, Ethiopia
  33. University of Benin, Nigeria
  34. University of Botswana, Botswana
  35. Cadi Ayyad University, Morocco
  36. University of Zambia, Zambia
  37. Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nigeria
  38. Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria
  39. Cheikh Anta Diop University, Senegal
  40. University of Bejaia, Algeria


In conclusion, starting a career in microbiology is one of the most fascinating careers to break into. One of the most interesting things about this career is that you can decide to work either in clinical or in an industry. However, it demands a high level of dedication, education as well as expertise. Therefore, you should spend time getting familiarised with the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in this career before you begin your career journey.


Good luck!


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