California Occupational Guides

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Summary Guide for

Microbiologists in California

May also be called: Bacteriologists; Cell Biologists; Cytologists; Epidemiologists; Immunologists; Mycologists; Virologists

Specialties within this occupation include: Medical Microbiologists; Clinical Microbiologists; Veterinary Microbiologists; Certified Public Health Microbiologists; Environmental Microbiologists; Industrial Microbiologists; Agricultural Microbiologists

What Would I Do?

Microbiologists study the growth, structure, development, and other characteristics of microscopic organisms, such as bacteria, algae, or fungi. They also study the relationship between organisms and disease or the effects of antibiotics on microorganisms.

Microbiologists perform most of their work in comfortable laboratories and offices. They normally work a 40-hour workweek; however, some employers may require overtime and occasional weekend work. Microbiologists are generally not exposed to unsafe or unhealthy conditions. Those who work with dangerous organisms or toxic substances in the laboratory must follow strict safety procedures to avoid contamination.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Microbiologist may appeal to those who enjoy activities that involve working with ideas and that require an extensive amount of thinking, searching for facts, and figuring out problems.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

The median wage in 2016 for Microbiologists in California is $85,775 annually, or $41.24 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

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Annual Wages for 2016Low
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Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2016 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
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Benefits generally include medical, dental, life, and vision insurance as well as vacation, sick leave, and retirement plans.

What is the Job Outlook?

Many factors will continue to contribute to the demand for Microbiologists. These include a growing and aging population, the increase in potential health hazards, additional wastewater plants, and the need for more efficient methods of wastewater disposal treatment.

How Do I Qualify?

A bachelor's degree in microbiology, biology, or the equivalent is generally the minimum education required for Microbiologists. However, depending on the job, many employers prefer those with a master's or doctoral degree. In addition, the job of Microbiologist may require licensure with the California Department of Public Health.

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Applicants can also find employment opportunities through placement offices at colleges and universities. Those working within the industry may recommend an interested candidate for jobs. Newspaper classified ads and the Internet provide additional sources for job listings. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

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Learn More About Microbiologists