Virologist BY: Diana & Leyla

Definition & Description of Career: Virology is the study of viruses – submicroscopic, parasitic particles of genetic material contained in a protein coat – and virus-like agents. Their primary work is to figure out how diseases like AIDS, SARS and hepatitis spread, in order to prevent more rampant development and to assist in vaccine development. In larger labs, the virologist spends more time planning, coordinating and supervising the research process, as opposed to actively participating in it. Coaching and training the research team on equipment use and proper procedures is vital to research project success.

Education & Training: While a bachelor's degree usually gets you a job as a lab assistant, advanced research positions in virology normally require a master's or doctoral degree. Median pay for all microbiologists was $65,920 in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Requirements: Degree Level M.D. and/or Ph.D. with postdoctoral training

Degree Field Virology, molecular virology, viral oncology, immunology

Licensure Virologists with M.D. degrees must earn medical licenses

Experience 3-5 years postdoctoral research experience

Key Skills Observation, communication, analysis, critical thinking, reasoning, problem solving, perseverance, scientific and medical software, which may include: BD Biosciences CellQuest, Protein Explorer, Computer Service & Support CLS-2000 Laboratory System, Orchard Software Orchard Harvest LIS, TreeView, and Verity Software House ModFit LT, laboratory equipment and tools, which may include: air samplers or collectors, infrared spectrometers, analyzing equipment, and sterilizing equipment

Salary (2014) $187,199 was the median for various types of physicians and surgeons; $67,790 was the median for microbiologists

Besides formal education, any candidate who is interested in becoming a Virologist must also gain some training and experience as well. Pursuing internship during graduation or during the masters program can help the candidate gain the much needed experience and training. Apart from this, the candidate can also take up a research based job or training program during the summer between two courses or degree programs.

Opportunities for advancement: A study conducted by "ADVANCE," a publication for medical laboratory professionals, found that virology lab researchers earned an average of $76,963 per year as of 2010 — more than $5,000 more than microbiologists as a whole. Those working as physicians, on the other hand, earned starting salaries of $158,000 a year, and upward of $225,000 with six years of experience.


Created with images by SFU - University Communications - "Masahiro Niikura and his doctoral student Nicole Bance" • FotoshopTofs - "microbiologist scientist pathologist"

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