Microbiologists study microscopic organisms, which include bacteria, viruses, algae and single-cell fungi (including yeasts) that are too small to be seen without a microscope. These tiny organisms can be usefully employed in the production of foods such as cheese, beer and bread; for the bioprocessing of wastes into useful compounds; and for the manufacturing of vaccines and medicines. Other microorganisms cause diseases in plants, humans and other animals, and can contaminate foods, water and soils.

Microbiologists may be employed by:

  • Crown research institutes (CRIs) such as AgResearch and Plant & Food Research
  • Universities
  • Medical and veterinary laboratories
  • Biotechnology companies
  • Food and drink manufacturing companies

Pay rates depend on qualifications and experience:

  • $35-55,000 for microbiology technicians with a Bachelor's degree
  • $55-75,000 for microbiologists with a Master's degree
  • $75-95,000 for researchers with a PhD

Key tertiary qualifications include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Microbiology, Biochemistry, Biotechnology or Molecular Biology
  • A Master's degree or PhD is generally required for work in a research role

Recommended school subjects:

  • Biology
  • Maths
  • Chemistry
  • English
  • Technology subjects, especially Food Technology

Careers New Zealand: Microbiologist

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Microbiologist: People who work in this role

  • Hayley Reid

    Microbiologist, Hayley Reid at work

    Vivian Zheng

    Microbiology Lab Technician , Vivian Zheng at work

    Parminder Kaur

    Laboratory Technician, Parminder Kaur at work

    Sarah Addison

    Microbiologist, Sarah Addison at work
  • Emilie Jacques

    Laboratory Technician, Emilie Jacques at work

    Rachel Melrose

    Lab Technician, Rachel Melrose at work

Microbiologist: Companies that employ people in this job role

  • NIWA
    Hill Laboratories
    Hill Laboratories
  • Plant & Food Research
    Plant & Food Research