Microbiology is an interdisciplinary subject with key links to the other Biological Sciences, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Environmental Engineering and Medicine. Graduates are qualified to take up both scientific and nonscientific careers. Many job opportunities are available in biomedical, industrial and government organisations, and in universities and colleges of higher education. These jobs cover innovative research, the development of new products, advisory and consultancy work or teaching. All are aimed at improving the health, environment and economy of countries in both the developed and developing world. In particular, companies and organisations concerned with animal and plant health, food and beverage processing, water quality, environmental management, pharmaceutical products and biotechnology require graduates in Microbiology. As there is currently a shortage of microbiologists, job opportunities exist across a number of areas including:
Healthcare: Microbiologists are essential in the fight against infectious diseases working in hospitals and Health Protection Laboratories. Here they diagnose infections, monitor treatments, develop vaccines, provide advice or track disease outbreaks.
Basic research: In order to either solve the problems caused by microorganisms or exploit their capabilities fundamental research on their biochemistry and genetics is required. Many microbiologists work in universities and research institutes exploring the detailed workings of microbial cells.
Environment: One of the greatest challenges currently facing society is that of climate change and environmental protection. Microbiologists are key players in the development of waste treatment technologies, recycling processes, pollution warning systems and in the production of green energy.
Agriculture: Pest management is an essential component of modern agricultural practice. Microbiologists have key roles to play in the development of pest control systems and in the diagnosis and treatment of animal pathogens.
Business: Microbiologists work in many bioscience and food companies, carrying out research, developing new products or carrying out quality control of manufacturing processes to ensure the microbiological safety of goods such as medicines, cosmetics, food, drink etc.
Outside the lab: Many trained microbiologists never go on to work in the microbiology field. However, they can use their skills and knowledge to pursue careers in marketing, technical support, regulatory affairs, education, as patent attorneys, and in public relations, journalism and publishing.
The combination of courses within the Microbiology degree in part fulfils many of the requirements for accreditation by the Institute of Biomedical Sciences in the UK: Accreditation may be achieved through some additional postgraduate training.
The School of Biological Sciences employs a dedicated careers advisor who has developed an extensive portfolio of employers, both nationally and internationally, within the science sector. Advice is also provided on CV preparation, interview techniques and securing summer work or longer placements.
Our past students have also gained work placement with organisations such as:
- Northern Ireland Water Ltd
- Environment Agency
- Forensic Service
- Moy Park
- Randox Laboratories
- Norbrook Laboratories Ltd
- The Almac Group
- Health Service
The Prospects and Microbiology Careerswebsites provide further information aboutthe types of jobs that attract Microbiology Graduates.
Further study is also an option open to Microbiology graduates. Students can choose from a wide range of Masters programmes as well as a comprehensive list of research topics as shown on the School website.
Other Career-related information: Queen’s is a member of the Russell Group and, therefore, one of the 20 universities most-targeted by leading graduate employers. Queen’s students will be advised and guided about career choice and, through the Degree Plusinitiative, will have an opportunity to seek accreditation for skills development and experience gained through the wide range of extra-curricular activities on offer. See Queen’s University Belfast fullEmployability Statementfor further information.
Degree Plus and other related initiatives: Recognising student diversity, as well as promoting employability enhancements and other interests, is part of the developmental experience at Queen’s. Students are encouraged to plan and build their own, personal skill and experiential profile through a range of activities including; recognised Queen’s Certificates, placements and other work experiences (at home or overseas), Erasmus study options elsewhere in Europe, learning development opportunities and involvement in wider university life through activities, such as clubs, societies, and sports.
Queen’s actively encourages this type of activity by offering students an additional qualification, the Degree Plus Award (and the related Researcher Plus Award for PhD and MPhil students). Degree Plus accredits wider experiential and skill development gained through extra-curricular activities that promote the enhancement of academic, career management, personal and employability skills in a variety of contexts. As part of the Award, students are also trained on how to reflect on the experience(s) and make the link between academic achievement, extracurricular activities, transferable skills and graduate employment. Participating students will also be trained in how to reflect on their skills and experiences and can gain an understanding of how to articulate the significance of these to others, e.g. employers.
Overall, these initiatives, and Degree Plus in particular, reward the energy, drive, determination and enthusiasm shown by students engaging in activities over-and-above the requirements of their academic studies. These qualities are amongst those valued highly by graduate employers.