#BeAnAwesome: Microbiologist

Students are advised to be more social-minded. In today’s world, it is not enough just to do well in school, it is also important to be a caring person. Combine your knowledge with your sense of humanity and you will be a success in whichever field you choose.
Dr Teh Yok Lan
Associate Professor and Head of Department of Biological Science at the Faculty of Science in UTAR
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What will I do?

Microbiology differs from the other fields of biology in that it focuses more on the world of microorganisms, namely, organisms that are too small to be seen by our naked eyes. Why do we want to study microbiology? Traditionally, it is because microorganisms are infectious agents that cause various diseases and we study them to find cures for the diseases. Nowadays, we are also exploring the functions of microorganisms in pollution control, biotechnology, as well as in agriculture and food industries.

Is it for me?

Microbiology is for students who are curious about the hidden forces that affect our lives and for those who want to explore the different aspects of microbes – how to control those that are harmful, and harness those that are useful to us in various fields, eg, medicine, bioremediation, food, agriculture, and biotechnology.  

What is the most enjoyable part of the job?

Being a microbiologist, you will be taking up the challenge of exploring the unknown world occupied by the microorganisms. Microbes are found almost everywhere: hot springs, deserts, in the deep sea, extreme cold and hot environments, in the guts of insects, and also in our intestines. Microbiologists are unlocking many secrets of life by studying microbes because their systems are similar to animals and plants.

Who will employ me?

The job prospects for microbiologists are very wide. For example, they can work in research institutes like the Institute for Medical Research (IMR) as clinical microbiologists; food and beverage companies like Nestlé as quality control officers; biotechnology companies like Sime Darby and pharmaceutical companies as research scientists; diagnostic laboratories and hospitals as medical officers; government agencies and departments such as environmental protection agencies as researchers, to name just a few.

How much will I earn?

The starting salary for a fresh graduate with a bachelor’s degree ranges between RM2,000 to RM3,200. If you possess higher qualifications or specialisations, it will start from RM3,500.

Specialisations

Further specialisation is advisable for all microbiology students after earning their bachelor’s degree to enhance their scientific knowledge. This will help to expand their career potential and job prospects. Various fields of specialisation can be undertaken, such as biotechnology, pharmaceutical, agricultural, R&D, biomedical sciences, and manufacturing. Public and private universities in Malaysia provide postgraduate programs (MSc/PhD) for microbiology students who have an interest in conducting independent research.