A microbiologist is a scientist who specializes in the study of life at the cellular level. Such scientists study the nature, behavior and development of living tissue and help to find cures for communicable diseases. While some microbiologists may operate in this field with only an associate's degree, those who hold the most lucrative positions tend to have advanced degrees and are at the top of the salary range.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, as of 2010, microbiologists in the United States made an average of $72,030 per year. The median pay for these professionals is $65,920 per year, and 80 percent make between $39,180 and $115,720 per year. Salary levels correspond to the microbiologist's experience, education and job location.
Clinical or medical microbiologists assists physicians in the identification of diseases and ailments, and in the analysis of blood and other samples taken from patients and donors. According to the Commission on Professionals in Science & Technology, the median salary for such professionals with master's degrees, as of 2005, was $61,000 per year. The average yearly salary was $67,437.
Environmental microbiologists analyze air, water and tissue samples to determine things like organism population trends and the effects of pollution on the environment. The commission reports the 2005 median annual wage for such professionals with master's degrees at $54,000, with the average annual wage being $53,815.
Microbiologists involved in the food industry study issues or possibilities of food poisoning in packaged and bottled food items as well as bacteria-dependent food items such as cheese and yogurt. The commission reports that the median yearly wage for food microbiologists with master's degrees was $66,632 as of 2005, with an average annual salary of $65,298.
Industrial or fermentation microbiologists study and develop the use of bacteria cultures in the creation of products and the cleaning of chemical and petroleum spills. The median 2005 wage that the commission reports for such microbiologists with master's degrees was $78,500 per year, with an average annual salary of $76,967.
Veterinary microbiologists perform tasks similar to those that medical and clinical microbiologists perform, except that they do so to help in the treatment of animals rather than humans. The commission reports that veterinary microbiologists with a master's degree received a median annual salary of $60,000 as of 2005, with an average salary of $59,857 per year.