• The Who, What, Where of Careers: Government

    What does this person do? 

    • Research: Reads literature, identifies gaps, develops hypotheses, conducts protocols to test hypotheses, analyzes data, presents major findings at national and international meetings, and publishes findings in scientific journals
    • Science Writing: writes content for specialists/non-specialists and presents it online or in-print in the format of articles, videos, podcasts, pamphlets, and magazines
    • Program Officer: collects incoming grants/applications, organizes reviewers based on expertise to assess the grants/applications, and identifies large areas in science that need to be funded and researched to advance society
    • Regulatory Affairs: reviews and approves new drug/medical device applications for clinical studies and marketing 

    Where does this person work?  

    • National Institutes of Health (NIH)
    • Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
    • United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

    Education and Experience Requirements:

    Position

    Education & Experience

    Lab Technician

    • Associate’s, BS, or MS in science related fields 
    • Some research experience

    Postdoctoral Fellow

    • PhD in science related fields

    Research Scientists

    • MD, PhD, or MD/PhD in science related fields
    • Postdoc experience

    Science Writer

    • BS, MS, or PhD in science related fields
    • Experience varies
    • Some positions may require a journalism degree

    Grant Administration/Program Officer

    • MD, PhD, or MD/PhD in science related fields 
    • Some administrative experience

    Regulatory Affairs

    • MS, MD, PhD, or MD/PhD in science related fields
    • Experience that complements education

     

    What to Consider before Entering the Profession: 

    • Teaching may be limited to small groups of trainees who are learning specific scientific methods/protocols
    • You may conduct research and/or manage a team that does research
    • There may be more administrative duties like scheduling, organizing, and leading meetings based on your position
    • There are a lot more rules and regulations in government positions to ensure that the ethical and legal requirements are followed

    Other information:

    • If you work at the FDA, you spend 50% of your time doing research and the other 50% doing regulatory work, i.e., reviewing applications.
    • Grant writing is optional; you can write grants so that you can obtain funding to do the research of your choice. Otherwise, if your research is funded by the government, you may be assigned projects by department heads.

     

     

    Want to learn more? Check out the additional resources.

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  • The Who, What, Where of Careers: Academia

    What does this person do? 

    • Teaches lecture and/or laboratory courses to undergraduate and/or graduate students
    • Writes grants to obtain money for labs or training programs
    • Reads literature, identifies gaps, develops hypotheses, conducts protocols to test hypotheses, analyzes data, presents major findings at national and international meetings, and publishes findings in scientific journals
    • Manages a budget and the scientists and trainees in a research lab
    • Sits on committees pertaining to graduate recruitment, curriculum, and training

    Where does this person work?  

    • Community Colleges
    • Private and Public Universities (these can be designated as primarily undergraduate universities or research intensive universities)

    What to Consider before Entering the Profession:

    • How much do you like teaching?
    • Do you like writing grants and managing a budget?
    • Do you thrive on conducting research and coming up with ideas?
    • Do you like having flexibility with schedules and research topics? 

    Education and Experience Requirements: 

    Position

    Education and Experience

    Lab Technician

    • Associate’s, BS, or MS in science-related fields
    • Some research experience

    Postdoctoral Fellow

    • PhD in science-related fields

    Staff Research Scientist

    • MD, PhD, or MD/PhD in science-related fields
    • Postdoc  experience

    Tenure Professorship

    • MD, PhD, or MD/PhD in science-related fields
    • Postdoc  or research scientist experience

    Instructor

    • PhD in science-related fields
    • MS or BS in science-related fields for community college positions
    • Experience varies by college/university

     

    Other information:

    • Teaching and research loads will vary depending on the type of college/university. At community colleges, teaching is the only activity, there is no research. At primarily undergraduate universities, you will mostly teach and do a little research. This is the inverse for research intensive universities.
    • With an MD or MD/PhD, a person will spend time doing research, teaching, or seeing patients in the hospital. The amount spent on these tasks differs according to the job description.

     

     

    Want to learn more? Check out the additional resources.

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  • The Who, What, Where of Careers: Clinical Microbiology

    What does this person do? 

    • Recommends methods for obtaining and transporting clinical specimens that would be most helpful in diagnosing infectious diseases
    • Selects the most appropriate tests and identifies bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic agents that are likely to be contributing to infectious processes
    • Determines the susceptibility of microorganisms to various antimicrobial agents that could be used to treat infections caused by the microorganisms
    • Reports results to healthcare providers caring for patients in a clear, concise, and clinically relevant manner
    • Works with healthcare teams, including public health officials, to improve processes to diagnose and control infectious diseases with a strong emphasis on effective communication at all levels
    • Works with pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers to develop new and improved technologies to confront emerging infectious diseases

    Where does this person work?  

    • Hospital Laboratories
    • Commercial and Reference Laboratories (where more complex lab tests are often performed)
    • Federal and State Government Laboratories
    • State and Local Public Health Laboratories
    • Hospital laboratories affiliated with Universities and Medical Schools
    • Pharmaceutical and Diagnostic Instrument Companies

    Where is the greatest need for clinical microbiologists?

    • Develop new tests to identify emerging infectious diseases that are rapid, clinically relevant and cost effective.
    • Identify innovative ways to assess the activity of antimicrobial agents against microorganisms that are most predictive of therapeutic outcomes.
    • Provide guidance to computer programmers to develop information technology that can best serve clinicians when ordering tests, reviewing test results and integrating test results with each patients electronic medical record.
    • Work with healthcare teams to better control transmission of infectious diseases within healthcare settings and in communities in the USA and beyond.

    Education and Experience Requirements:

    Position

    Education & Experience

    Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT)

    • Associate’s Degree
    • Completion of an accredited MLT program
    • ASCP certification (optional)

    Medical Technologist (MT)

    Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS)

    Clinical Laboratory Scientist (CLS)
    *These 3 designations describe the same position

    • BS in the biology/health-related sciences
    • Completion of an accredited MT program
    • ASCP certification (optional)

    Clinical Microbiology Laboratory Director

    • MD, PhD, or MD/PhD in Microbiology/Molecular Biology/Clinical Laboratory Science
    • Postdoc through ASM’s CPEP training (optional but desirable), OR Informal training for 3 years in a clinical microbiology lab, OR MD Clinical Microbiology Postgraduate Fellowship
    • Certified through the American Board of Medical Microbiology (ABMM) or American Board of Pathology-Medical Microbiology (optional)

     

    What to Consider before Entering the Profession:

    • Do you want to use your science knowledge in a healthcare environment?
    • Would you prefer to stay “behind the scenes” rather than work directly with patients?
    • Are you interested in helping to determine the causes of infections?
    • Are you willing to at times work or be available to work weekends, evenings, and holidays?
    • Are you organized and able to multitask in a high-workload environment?

    Other information:

    • As a MLT, you analyze specimens and report results. MLS’ have an added responsibility to perform more complex testing than MLTs.
    • After several years of experience “on the bench” as an MLS, you can become a supervisor or manager.
    • As a director of a clinical microbiology lab, you are responsible for tests performed in your laboratory, advise clinicians on test selection and interpretation, and serve as a microbiology resource for your health system beyond the laboratory.
    • Most laboratory personnel in the clinical microbiology field are also qualified to work in public health laboratories.

     

     

    Want to learn more? Check out the additional resources.

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  • The Who, What, Where of Careers: Public Health

    What does this person do?  

    • Performs clinical diagnostic testing on patients to identify agents
    • Tests animal and environmental samples to identify agents
    • Communicates scientific information to government officials, epidemiologists, clinicians, and to the public
    • Conducts disease surveillance and transmits the data to local, state, federal and international agencies
    • Investigates infectious disease outbreaks and determines the modes of disease transmission
    • Analyzes public health threats and provide information for effective responses
    • Performs research and development for diagnostic test methods not available in clinical labs
    • Develops policies, guidelines, and regulations related to public health and best laboratory practices
    • Provides training and continuing education to clinical labs and medical providers

    Where does this person work?   

    • Local, State, or Federal Government Public Health Laboratories

    Education and Experience Requirements:

    *Note - Some states have specific requirements such as licensure. Also, requirements may vary depending on the level of Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) testing being performed.

    Position

    Education and Experience

    Laboratory Aide/Assistant

    • High school diploma

    Laboratory Technician or equivalent

    • Associate’s Degree
    • Completion of an accredited MLT program (optional)
    • ASCP certification (optional)

    Public Health Laboratory Scientist (Entry, Intermediate, Senior, Lead)

    • BS or MS in the biological sciences/health-related sciences, or MPH
    • Years of experience reflects position (Entry:0-1, Intermediate:1-3, Senior:5-7, Lead:10+)
    • Completion of an accredited MT program (optional)
    • ASCP certification (optional)

    Public Health Laboratory Director

    • PhD (in some cases an MS with several years of experience) in Microbiology/Molecular Biology/Clinical Laboratory Science/Biological Science
    • If overseeing clinical testing you will need to comply with CLIA guidelines, which are:
      • MD, PhD, or MD/PhD in Microbiology/Molecular Biology/Clinical Laboratory Science/Biological Science
      • Certified by: ABMM (American Board of Medical Microbiology) or ABB (American Association of Bioanalysis)
    • Directors that oversee diagnostics and/or environmental testing laboratories need to meet federal and state qualifications for experience, education, and licensure

     

    What to Consider before Entering the Profession:

    • You will need to know the basics of infectious disease agents, transmission and diagnostics, and be prepared for a very steep learning curve when a new disease arises.
    • Training in epidemiology principles and concepts is important
    • The work load becomes high and fast-paced during times of an outbreak and emergencies. 

     

    Want to learn more? Check out the additional resources.

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  • The Who, What, Where of Careers: Science Outreach

    What does this person do? 

    • Organizes activities that promote communication and training of science students
    • Conducts needs-based assessments from the targeting population
    • Initiates new programs to cover gaps in communication and training
    • Lobby/searches for funding sources to support programs
    • Creates relationships with potential volunteers/vendors to assist in programming
    • Created marketing materials and promotes programs

    Where does this person work?   

    • Nonprofit agencies
    • Universities and colleges

    Education and Experience Requirements:

    The degrees and experience for this position vary:

    • Positions focused on science communication require a BS, MS, or PhD in science fields and may require a journalism degree
    • Positions focused on the training/curriculum of science students require a BS, MS, or PhD in science, higher education, or career advising
    • Director-level positions require a BS, MS, or PhD with many years of relevant experience

    What to Consider before Entering the Profession:

    • Do you like traveling and meeting people? At nonprofits, you attend conferences to recruit volunteers for programs and promote your activities.
    • The work you do stands behind the company’s name, not yours, i.e., there is little opportunity for scientific publishing in journals.

     

    Want to learn more? Check out the additional resources.

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    3
  • The Who, What, Where of Careers: Industrial Microbiology

    What does this person do? 

    • Food production: understands and develops the standards for microorganism content food production, like yogurt, beer, or wine
    • Bioremediation: cleans up waste or toxic chemicals with organisms
    • Wastewater management: studies the wastewater systems to understand optimum conditions to prevent microbial growth
    • Microbial control: evaluates existing microbial control techniques and creates new products/methods
    • Fermentation and Cell Culture: optimizes the machines and conditions used to grow microorganisms and cells in large quantities during product development
    • Metabolic Engineering: creates tools to increase the expression of natural and synthetic products
    • Biotechnology: develops large molecular tools, like reagents and instruments
    • Pharmaceutical: develops novel, small-molecule drugs and medical devices

    Where does this person work?   

    • Biotechnology companies
    • Pharmaceutical companies
    • Food manufacturing/production companies
    • Skin care product development/manufacturing companies
    • Contracting companies that offer specific services

    Education and Experience Requirements:

    • Varies based on positions:
      • Most research and project manager positions require a PhD with relevant industry experience
      • Research on the preclinical and clinical studies require a PhD or MD with relevant industry experience
      • For sales and marketing positions, companies favor science undergraduate degrees and an MBA, some have advanced degrees
      • Any positions in regulatory affairs favors science undergraduate degrees, some have advanced degrees
      • For quality assurance and control, you need a science undergraduate degree, some have advanced degrees

    What to Consider before Entering the Profession:

    • Do you like to explore projects or stick with the goals/vision of the company? When working in industry, your research has to fit within the goals/vision of the company—therefore, there is little room for exploratory research.
    • Do you like to overcome the barriers in research or your experiments? Sometimes in industry, projects don’t work and they get terminated.
    • Do you like seeing projects from start to finish? In industry, each person does their part and hands the project to someone else.
    • Do you like conducting your work under strict rules and regulations? Because of the strict guidelines from the government, industries have to follow protocols for their products/drugs.

    Other information:

    • Once you get into the research side of industry, there are many opportunities to move up the ladder and/or laterally into different business aspects of the company.

     

    Want to learn more? Check out the additional resources.

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    8
  • The Who, What, Where of Careers: Biological Safety

    What does this person do?

    • Implements a successful Biological Safety Management Program - this is a framework comprised of organizational structure, policies, practices, and biosafety guidance instituted and supported by management that provides procedures and accountability for preventing occupationally-acquired infections or release of harmful organisms to the environment
    • Promotes and enforces evidence-based safe laboratory practices, procedures, and proper use of containment equipment and facilities in order to (a) prevent injury, infection, and death of employees and the public, (b) prevent environmental contamination, and (c) comply with Federal, State, and Local regulations and guidelines
    • Emphasizes that safety is a shared responsibility (shared accountability) among the institution and its workers by promoting a “culture of safety” within the organization and encouraging responsible activities among laboratory workers
    • Builds relationships with leadership to ensure commitment to safety and an atmosphere of trust
    • Works directly with appropriate personnel to provide advice on laboratory design

    Where does this person work?

    • Research and development facilities like academia and industry
    • Private and hospital clinical laboratories
    • Veterinary diagnostic and research facilities
    • Government agencies
    • Manufacturing facilities

    Education and Experience Requirements:

    • A strong background in the biological sciences is recommended.
    • Entry level positions require a BS or MS degree with emphasis on biology and chemistry
    • Laboratory experience is optional but strongly recommended because it facilitates communication with laboratory workers and serves as an aid to earn the trust and respect from your peers, staff, and management and builds upon your credibility foundation
    • Different positions within the biosafety discipline are predicated upon education, experience and perhaps documentation of registration or certification as a biosafety officer or Specialist Microbiologist (Biological Safety)
    • Continuing education throughout an individual’s career is a must as the biosafety professional must adapt to changes in the life sciences.

    What to consider before entering the Profession:

    • The biological safety career path focuses on laboratory technical skills, the practice of positive interpersonal relationships, and a genuine interest in providing a safe working environment for employees
    • It is important to realize that as a Biosafety Officer you may encounter work involving potentially dangerous microbial pathogens and toxins, animals, plants, hospital patients, clinical specimens and industrial and manufacturing facilities
    • The facilities may be small or large and may involve various levels of biocontainment 
    • As a Biosafety Officer, you must display a passion for your profession

    Other Information

    • The titles in biosafety are dependent upon the function and mission of employment venues (i.e., Government, pharmaceutical, research and development) – some titles include Director of Safety (or similar title), Senior Biosafety Officer and Assistant Biosafety Officer

     

    Article Count:
    2

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