The Who, What, Where of Careers:
Industrial Microbiology


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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.

Working in Industry After Academia

laboratory diagnostics CPDr. David Henderson is a Scientist in the Clinical Affairs Department at Biofire Diagnostics. He shares his thoughts on transitioning from academia to industry and the differences he sees between the two worlds, and offers advice for students and postdocs who are interested in industry.

Ensuring Medical Device and Pharmaceutical Safety: An Interview With an Industrial Microbiologist

Justin Tettenborn photo Career LPJustin Tettenborn is a Sterilization Specialist for a global medical device company that develops and markets products for orthopedic, surgical and critical care use. Since obtaining his B.S. in Microbiology from Arizona State University, Mr. Tettenborn has devoted several years to ensuring medical device and pharmaceutical safety in his dynamic role as an industrial microbiologist. In this Q&A, he describes the scope of his work and provides insights to those considering a career in this growing field. 

Cover Up: A Lead Microbiologist for a Cosmetic Company

Sam Aidoo LPIn this week’s career blog, we talk to Samuel Aidoo, a Lead Microbiologist at Gordon Laboratories, a certified skin, hair, and body care manufacturing company. After obtaining his Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from California State University of San Bernardino, he worked as a lab tech in a water testing facility, and then did quality control for another cosmetic manufacturing company.  

From Environmental Microbiologist to Talent Development Consultant: Q&A with Dr. Jennifer Groh

rsz 11leica 3In this issue of Microbe Mentor, Eleanor Jennings interviews Dr. Jennifer Groh.  Dr. Groh is a Talent Development Consultant (TDC) at Caterpillar Inc. in Lafayette, IN.  Caterpillar is a Fortune 50 company whose products help develop infrastructure, energy and natural resource assets.  Dr. Groh describes how she chose each stage of her professional development and provides advice for those looking to follow a similar pathway.

Microbiology Career Profiles: Market Specialist at Pacific Biosciences with Melissa Smith

Melissa Smith works with customers to implement deep sequencing technology so they can address different scientific questions. Learn more about what she does, how she got to her position, and what you should do to get there.