Income and benefits
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for microbiologists in the United states was $75,650 in 2019. The lowest 10% earned less than $43,500 per year, and the highest 10% earned more than $133,280 per year.
The top paying industry was the federal government, which has a median annual salary of $106,670. This was followed by research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences ($101,100), pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing ($67,990), the state government ($57,770) and then colleges, universities and professional schools ($56,850).
Autonomy and flexibility
Like most careers, microbiologists will have less autonomy when they first start out. As most microbiologists begin their career in postdoctoral research positions where they work under experienced scientists, they are likely to have little control over their decisions at this stage.
However, as they progress through their career and gather more experience and knowledge, microbiologists will have greater control over their decisions. For example, basic microbiology researchers who work in academia usually choose the focus of their research and run their own laboratories. Therefore, these researchers have high levels of autonomy and flexibility. Yet, applied researchers who work for companies study the products that the company will sell or suggest modifications to the production process so that the company can become more efficient.
Locations and commute
According to Zippia, the best states to be a microbiologist, based on average annual salary and number of job opportunities available, are:
- California, where the average annual salary is $79,930
- Vermont, where the average annual salary is $64,993
- Massachusetts, where the average annual salary is $68,370
- Arizona, where the average annual salary is $68,390
- New Jersey, where the average annual salary is $59,790
The worst states, according to Zippia, are Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana and Kansas.
23% of microbiologists in the United States were employed by research and development in the physical, engineering and life sciences industry. 13% were employed by colleges, universities and professional schools. The federal government employed 12% of microbiologist, the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing industry employed 11% and the state government employ 7%.
Microbiologists typically work in laboratories, offices and industrial settings where they can conduct experiments and analyze the reports in the same place. Some microbiologists will work with dangerous organisms and will have to follow strict safety procedures to avoid contamination. Microbiologists may also need to conduct onsite visits or collect samples from the environment and as a result, they may have to travel to different locations or work outside.