Conduct research viruses that affect humans, animals, and plants.

Quick Stats

Salary Range
$39,000 – $116,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Virologists do?

A Virologist studies the growth, structure, and development of microscopic organisms like viruses, bacteria, algae, and fungi. If you enjoy studying the world through a microscope and determining causal relationships (that is, this-makes-that-happen relationships), the position of Virologist could be the perfect one for you.

As a Virologist, you work in a laboratory setting, whether in a hospital, pharmaceutical company, or research institution (like a college or university). In this management position, your interpersonal and business management skills are put to the test as you oversee Technologists and other Scientists while they conduct experiments and studies designed to analyze the behavior of certain organisms under different conditions.

For example, you run an experiment to determine how lack of oxygen affects a particular strain of bacteria. Using sophisticated equipment such as electron microscopes, gas chromatographs, thermocyclers, and fluorescence-activated cell sorters, you test the bacteria in all types of conditions. When you discover that the bacteria cannot grow and reproduce without oxygen, you then prepare a report on your findings for scientific publications or internal review.

You function as part of a team, but you also need the ability to work alone because the laboratory can be a quiet and lonely place at times. Excellent communication skills are also important, as you’re responsible for directing your team of Scientists, while also reporting your findings to Supervisors and the scientific community. The research you complete today may save a life tomorrow, and that may be enough to make even the quietest lab feel like a party every day.

Should I be a Virologist?

You should have a doctoral degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.
  • Ready for a Challenge: You jump into new projects with initiative and drive.
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.

  • Also known as: Virology Director

    How to become a Virologist

    Virologists often have a Doctorate. Start by getting your Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:aag9g9&chl=||associate%27s+%285%25%29|bachelor%27s+%2845%25%29|master%27s+%285%25%29|doctorate+%2845%25%29&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,0,45
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