Entry Level Job Titles

  • Microbiologist
  • Microbiology Technician

Educational Background

  • B.Sc.
  • College Diploma (entry level)

Job Functions

  • Microbial testing
  • Sterility testing
  • Environmental monitoring testing
  • Assay test
  • Other tests

Microbial testing

  • Microbial testing is performed to asses the microbial quality of a product.
  • The microbial quality of a product may include testing for (presence/ absence of) microbial load, specific organisms, and/or endotoxins.

Sterility Test

  • The sterility testing of a product assesses the sterilization processes of sterile products such as injectables and medical devices.

Environmental Testing

  • Environmental monitoring testing assesses the microbial quality of the air and the surfaces of a manufacturing facility.
  • If working for a contract lab, you will have to travel to the client’s facility

Assay Testing

Assay tests verifies the label claims of pharmaceutical dosage forms such as antibiotic creams and ointments.

Other Testing

  • Using a dilution scheme of a known standard, you will compare the inhibition of growth to sample and extrapolate the sample concentration based on zones of inhibition or turbidity of bacterial growth.
  • Identification of organism growth


Proper documentation and record-keeping following Good Documentation Practices (GDP).

Must Have Skills

  • Attention to details and ability to follow written procedures without any deviation
    • Testings must be adhered to regulatory guidelines, test methods and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), therefore, attention to details is very important
  • Review of paper work thoroughly
    • When reviewing, checking that lot/batch# match up and the correct methods are used is very important
  • Good documentation practices
  • Honest and transparent
  • Able to calculate and perform dilution
    • Often you will have a known concentration of organisms (such as 2.2 x 10^6 CFU) and you will be required to obtain a sample solution such that when you plate 1mL, the plate will ideally be within a countable range of 30-300 CFU.
  • Since microscopic organisms are not visible to our eyes, understanding of the concepts and knowing which steps or factors may create a risk will be considered valuable
  • Work well under pressure and in a ‘fast paced and minimal tolerance for mistakes’ environment.
  • Able to work in a highly regulated industry by following company procedures and regulatory guidelines
  • Able to take responsibility for your own action. Work well individually and as part of a term. Professional, fast learner and takes initiative

Type of companies that hire

  • Pharmaceutical/ Biopharmaceutical
  • Regulatory Agencies (Health Canada, FDA)
  • Biotech
  • Contract Labs
  • Cannabis Industry
  • Food Industry
  • other

Competitive Advantage

Any transferable skills that speak for your ability to follow instructions and written procedures without any deviation

Career Growth

Microbiology Technician –> Microbiologist –> Senior Microbiologist –> Supervisor –> Manager

Other options:

–>apply to the country’s regulatory agency for a related position.

  • If Canadian and interested in a government job:
    • Health Canada
    • National Microbiology Laboratory

–>if you are an expert in the field, become a consultant

->if you are an expert in the field and have M.Sc./ Ph.D., teach at a college that offers course on this field.

–> if you have certification on project management and preferably PM certified, consider becoming a Project Manager

–> with business certification, you could even transfer to business side of the pharma

Recommended Readings

  1. Pharmaceutical Microbiology Manual (FDA, 2014)
  2. USP <1117> Microbiological Best Laboratory Practices
  3. USP <1029> Good Documentation Guidelines