- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, ‘2003-2012 Occupation Data’ (prepared for Careers New Zealand), accessed September 2013.
- NZBIO, 'Annual Report 2012', accessed September 2013, (www.nzbio.org.nz).
- Slim, G, CEO, NZBIO, Careers New Zealand interview, September 2013.
- Statistics New Zealand, 'Bioscience Survey: 2011', accessed September 2013, (www.stats.govt.nz).
Kaimātai Koiora Mororiki
This job is sometimes referred to as:
- Food/Industrial Microbiologist
- Environmental/Medical Microbiologist
Microbiologists study microscopic organisms (living things too small to be seen without a microscope), such as bacteria, viruses, algae or fungi, and the effects they have on plants, animals and humans. They use this knowledge to develop products and procedures to benefit humans or the environment.
Contact usCall us on 0800 222 733
What are the chances of getting a job?
Limited opportunities for microbiologists doing fundamental research
Opportunities are limited for microbiologists doing basic or fundamental research, rather than research that is applied to practical areas. This is mainly because there is less funding for fundamental research, primarily due to ongoing effects of the 2008-2009 recession.
Microbiologist numbers fell by about 26% between 2010 and 2012, according to Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment estimates.
Shortage of microbiologists doing applied research
Most microbiology funding is going to applied research, which involves developing technologies and products such as new vaccines or foods. However, there are not enough microbiologists to fill all positions.
As a result, microbiologist appears on Immigration New Zealand's immediate skill shortage list, which means the Government is actively encouraging skilled microbiologists from overseas to work in New Zealand.
Types of employers varied
Microbiologists may work for:
- Crown research institutes (CRIs)
- medical and veterinary laboratories
- biotechnology companies
- pastoral product manufacturing companies
- food manufacturing companies
- private research institutes
Other vacancy websites
- Science New Zealand - Browse job vacancies in Crown Research Institutes
- New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology - Browse job vacancies
- NZ Government Jobs Online - Search jobs.govt.nz for State sector vacancies
- My Job Space - View MyJobSpace's scientific jobs
- Rob Law Consulting - View Rob Law's science jobs
- SEEK - View SEEK's science jobs
- Trade Me - View Trade Me's science jobs
Progression and specialisations
Microbiologists first work as technicians or assistants during university or after graduating. As they gain lab and computer skills, they may progress to senior positions, or they may undertake postgraduate study to specialise in a particular research area.
Microbiologists who have earned a PhD typically have more control over their research projects. Because research funding is limited, they may work on a variety of fixed-term projects for different employers, but within their study area. After developing their research and communication skills, they may become project leaders.
Project leaders spend less time in the lab, and more time seeking funding for projects, and managing people, processes and resources.
Some microbiologists may also move into medical sales, policy work, teaching, journalism, law or business.
How many people are doing this job?
Updated 16 Oct 2014