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Microbiologists study micro-organisms, such as bacteria, viruses and fungi, and the effects they have on plants, animals, sea life and humans. They also develop products from micro-organisms to benefit humans or the environment.

What do Microbiologists do at work?

  • Analyze and perform tests and experiments on micro-organisms.
  • Identify and characterise micro-organisms, including those that cause disease.
  • Develop and use micro-organisms to produce vaccines, medicines, fuels and chemicals.
  • Grow micro-organisms to use in food.
  • Identify micro-organisms that may pollute food, water, and the environment.
  • Prepare reports and papers, and present results.
  • Provide technical guidance to assistants. 

Skills and knowledge

  • Knowledge of molecular biology and genetics, biochemistry and chemistry
  • Practical skills for performing experiments and operating scientific equipment.
  • Knowledge of laboratory hazards and proper safety procedures
  • Skill in analysing and interpreting research results and other information
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Presentation and writing skills for reports or grant proposals.
  • Maths and computer skills.

Entry requirements

  • To become a Microbiologist, you need to have a Bachelor of Science majoring in microbiology, biotechnology, biochemistry or molecular biology. 
  • A postgraduate qualification, such as a Master’s degree or Doctorate, is usually required for research-based positions.


A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter further training. Useful subjects include NCEA 3 Biology, Maths, Chemistry, Physics Maths and English