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What can I do with my degree?: Microbiology

Employers value the scientific, analytical and problem-solving skills developed by microbiology graduates

Job options

Jobs directly related to your degree include:

Jobs where your degree would be useful include:

Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here. To find out what jobs would suit you, log in to My Prospects.

Work experience

Pre-entry experience in a laboratory is useful if you are thinking of a science-based career. Some degree courses include a year's work placement undertaking scientific research in industry, a government research laboratory, or another relevant organisation. Talk to hospital laboratories or your university careers service about gaining some work experience.

Some companies provide funding to support research work in laboratories over the summer.

Becoming a member of a relevant society or professional body demonstrates commitment to the career and provides valuable networking and career development opportunities. They often also provide support with getting experience with research projects. Relevant organisations include:

Search for placements and find out more about work experience and internships.

Typical employers

Microbiology overlaps with many other degree areas of biology, such as genetics, molecular biology and immunology. Microbiology-related careers are, therefore, found in a diverse range of employment sectors and typical employers include:

  • healthcare organisations such as the NHS;
  • environmental organisations;
  • industry - food and drink, pharmaceuticals, toiletries, water and biotechnology companies;
  • forensic science laboratories;
  • publicly funded research organisations;
  • higher education institutions.

Find information on employers in science and pharmaceuticals, healthcare, teaching and education and other job sectors.

Skills for your CV

A microbiology degree gives you a variety of subject-specific skills, which include the ability to:

  • employ a range of investigative, recording and analysis techniques;
  • prepare, interpret and present data, using statistical programmes, qualitative and quantitative techniques and spreadsheets;
  • conduct literature searches and critically evaluate information;
  • undertake practical laboratory investigations in a safe, responsible and ethical manner;
  • apply scientific thought, rationales and approaches.

You also develop skills including:

  • teamwork skills and the ability to work on your own initiative;
  • a flexible approach to work;
  • analytical and problem-solving skills;
  • communication, time management and organisational skills;
  • the ability to evaluate your own performance and that of others.

Further study

Typical postgraduate subjects undertaken by microbiology graduates include:

  • biochemistry;
  • bioinformatics;
  • biotechnology;
  • environmental microbiology;
  • genetics;
  • medical microbiology;
  • molecular biology.

It is also possible to proceed to graduate-entry programmes in medicine.

Some microbiology graduates choose to diversify by studying subjects such as computing, science communication and journalism. There are many courses that are open to graduates from any discipline that lead to careers in areas such as marketing, finance, business, teaching and law.

For more information on further study and to find a course that interests you, see Masters degrees and search postgraduate courses.

What do microbiology graduates do?

Just over half of microbiology graduates enter employment within six months of graduation or combine work with further study.

Graduates enter a range of science and technician roles, while many that undertake further study choose to specialise in a particular area of microbiology.

Graduate destinations for microbiology
Destinations Percentage
Employed 49.0%
Further study 28.7%
Working and studying 7.7%
Unemployed 10.9%
Other 3.7%
Types of work entered in the UK
Technicians and other professionals 20.9%
Science professionals 19.2%
Retail, catering and bar work 14.6%
Secretarial and numerical clerks 7.9%
Other 30.3%

Find out what other graduates are doing six months after finishing their degrees in What Do Graduates Do?  

Graduate destinations data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

Written by AGCAS editors
June 2015

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