The Who, What, Where of Careers:


Interested in bringing career speakers to your university??? Learn more about Careers in Microbial Sciences!

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


Career Options for PhDs: What Does a Biosafety Officer Do?

photo 0163272108ebgzhpDo you have a Ph.D. and want to learn about your options? Mark Campbell, a biological safety officer, does risk-assessments on research projects that involve biological materials and implements a biological waste management process. He highly recommends that students develop their research skills and obtain certifications in biological safety to be competitive in this field. Check out his profile to learn which skills he uses the most and what he does in his free time.  


Microbiology Career Profiles: Training to be a Biosafety Professional

Dr. David Martinson is a Senior Fellow in the National Biosafety and Biocontainment Training Program at the National Institutes of Health. Learn more about what he does, how he got to his position, and what you should do to get there.