What they do

Microbiologists study microbes such as bacteria, viruses and fungi. The central aim of microbiology is to study how microbes interact with the world around them and how we can make use of these interactions. This includes solving important problems in medicine, agriculture and industry. The research possibilities for a microbiologist are many and varied. They can study microbes that spoil food, help plants grow, make medicines or cause diseases. Microbiologists may also work as university lecturers or government advisers on their field of research.

Working conditions

Microbiologists usually work in laboratories with a range of equipment, from culture samples in petri dishes to sophisticated computer software. Working conditions are usually clean and comfortable, but may pose some danger to health and safety, given the types of organisms that microbiologists often work with. Some microbiologists may work in non-laboratory based areas such as agricultural sites when collecting samples. Others may work as teachers in a university classroom or advising government departments. Working days are often long, especially at the beginning of one's career. There is little travel required for microbiologists.

Tools and technologies

Microbiologists work with a range of technologies. These include microscopes used to study microbe cultures and various laboratory apparatus used to test tissue samples. These samples can vary widely depending on the area of research, and can include anything from honey to human blood. Computer programs which analyse microbes are also used. Standard word processing and presentation computer software is also used to write reports and deliver findings to an audience.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become a microbiologist, you usually need to study a degree in science, majoring in microbiology and immunology, or biomedical science or food science and technology.

Most universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.