Virologist Job Description, Skills and Salary
Get to know about the duties, responsibilities, qualifications, and skills requirements of a virologist. Feel free to use our job description template to produce your own. We also provide you with information about the salary you can earn as a virologist.
Who is a Virologist?
Virologists study microorganisms that quickly reproduce, leading to the rapid spread of viruses. They are primarily responsible for identifying the causes of diseases such as AIDS, SARS, and hepatitis and helping to develop vaccines.
They also study the structure, growth, and characteristics of viruses. He will isolate and culture significant viruses in an inhibitory medium. This allows him to control certain factors like temperature, humidity, nutrition, and aeration. A virologist also studies the effects of viruses on the living tissue of animals and plants.
Virologists have been a part of the advancements in healthcare since the dawn of modern medicine. They have developed vaccines against multiple diseases and sequenced DNA.
Researchers and medical doctors may also be called virologists. Some are involved in direct patient care and work with other health care professionals to manage persistent viral infections. Some others work behind the scenes, providing advice to general practitioners about the best antiviral drugs and making recommendations for vaccine usage.
Since the dawn of time, viruses have been a problem for humankind. Some viruses have proven more deadly than others. These include Ebola, AIDS (the flu), chickenpox, and Ebola.
These medical personnels are experts in the study of viruses’ ability to reproduce in animals, plants, and bacterial cells. Viral parasites take over host cells to reproduce. The virus parasite causes cell changes that direct the metabolism of the host cell to make new viruses. Viral infections can infect all major groups, including vertebrates and invertebrates as well as plants, fungi, bacteria, and fungi.
Many people believe that antibiotics are used to fight viruses. Many preventative vaccines can be used to protect against viruses, including the hepatitis B vaccine and typhus shots. These vaccines are intended to protect people from diseases. To prevent becoming infected with a deadly virus, travelers to countries where there is a high risk of infection should be vaccinated.
Cold virus infections can cause mild symptoms such as a runny nose or malaise that last for several days. Contact with infected people can spread viruses. Person-to-person contact via mucus and blood secretions is the most common method of transmission. Some viruses can also be transmitted by air. If the needle contains AIDS or hepatitis, it is easy for drug users to contract the virus from others.
Virologists working on dangerous organisms like Ebola and AIDS must be careful. They should wear protective suits and work in biohazard zones, which are restricted to them only. They often work with microbiologists, such as immunologists, parasitologists, and bacteriologists to perform interdisciplinary research studies. Others may work as doctors treating viral infections.
The work of virologists seems to never end, with new viruses constantly emerging. This career is very rewarding as virologists often discover cures for the most deadly diseases.
Virologist Job Description
Below are the virologist job description examples you can use to develop your resume or write a virologist job description for your employee. Employers can also use it to sieve out job seekers when choosing candidates for interviews.
- Performing research and different in-depth studies to identify viruses that can cause infection to humans, animals, and other living things.
- Finding cures for different species of the virus by studying the structure and growth of certain diseases.
- Conducting and organizing medical tests to determine the effect of viruses on other people. This will allow health professionals to create warnings, symptoms, and cures that they can use to relay to patients.
- Collecting hair, blood, and urine samples from patients
- Applying molecular techniques to examine viruses more closely. This will allow you to make more precise hypotheses and conclusions.
- Studying the spread of different viruses in various populations and ways to reduce them
- Collaborating with scientists and other health professionals to develop and test new vaccines
- Collecting samples to study.
- Studying viruses using highly-specialized molecular and serological techniques.
- Identifying different viruses and their characteristics through microscopic examination
- Studying the effects of viruses on organic matter and the impact on the living tissues of animals and humans by studying their viral infections.
- Analyzing chemical reactions of viruses that interact with organic matter such as acids, enzymes, and alcohol secretions.
- Determine how HIV, SARS, and hepatitis are spread throughout the population.
- Assisting in vaccine development.
- Writing technical reports and creating presentations to communicate research results to interested parties.
- Assisting institutions such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in preventing and controlling viral infections.
- Providing expert advice and professional opinions on how to manage outbreaks.
Other important tasks include:
- Research Studies
Virologists are responsible for planning, conducting, and supervising experiments. Research studies are usually conducted in strictly controlled laboratories that use sophisticated computer software and scientific equipment to analyze viral activity.
Virologists study bacteria that have been infected with a virus. They experiment with different temperatures, humidity levels, and air conditions to observe how the bacteria react. They can then determine what factors contribute to the growth and spread of the virus within bacteria so that they can predict how it will affect populations.
- Supervision of Research Teams
In large private labs or universities, virologists often supervise teams of researchers. People managed by virologists often have the responsibility of managing biological technologists, technicians, and lab assistants. The virologist is more involved in the planning, coordination, and supervision of research projects in larger labs. Research project success depends on the ability to coach and train the team on proper equipment use and procedures.
- Scholarly Presentations
After completing research projects, virologists take primary responsibility for communicating the results to their employer, grantor or sponsoring organization. Some virologists work in larger labs that conduct a wide range of health research. Other researchers, lab administrators, and government health agencies may be able to access their technical reports and presentations.
At the top, virology is a contributor to the federal Centers for Disease Control’s plans to prevent and control the spread of viral infections like influenza. They might also contribute to professional journals or write books on virology. To advance their knowledge, many of them speak at professional conferences.
- Collaboration and consultation
Many virologists work at hospitals and large clinics. They often work in collaboration with other medical personnel who treat individual patient cases. After a virus is diagnosed by a doctor, virologists take samples to study it. Once the research has been completed, the virologist will give his opinion on how to treat and control the epidemic in the community. The virologist might recommend that a patient be quarantined in extreme cases to protect the hospital staff, patients, and visitors.
- Rigorous Study
A virologist’s primary duty is to research different aspects of viruses. For example, what happens to healthy people if viruses infect them? Or what might be causing their spread. Researchers in virology might discover new strains of viruses or cures for diseases that plague animals and plants. A subfield of virology such as epidemiology can be specialized by virologists. To determine the factors that lead to a sudden outbreak of a disease, epidemiologists examine how it is spread to other people.
- Detailed Development
While conducting scientific research, virologists also try to discover new vaccines or treatments. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, some virologists try to modify viruses so that they can be used in vaccines to prevent disease. They may also be able to develop plants that are resistant to viral infection. Other virologists deal with viruses that can mutate, such as influenza, and try to establish techniques to slow down or minimize its progress.
- Responding to an emergency
Many virologists are available to help with emergencies around the globe. As a response to the 2014 Ebola epidemic, virologists advised the public about possible mutations. They also gave guidance on how to control the disease and prevent it from spreading to other countries.
- Public Awareness
Like all scientists, virologists have an important duty to publish their research, discoveries, and findings in scientific journals as well as public papers. In addition, virologists often present their findings at scientific and public forums. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, virologists share their findings with engineers, scientists, and executives, as well as other professionals.
- Must have a bachelor’s degree in biology, chemistry, or another related field.
- Doctor of Medicine (MD), or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), with training in virology and molecular virology can also be required
- Three to five years of postdoctoral experience in the field.
- Working knowledge of scientific or medical software like BD CellQuest and Protein Explorer.
- Experience with laboratory equipment and tools including infrared spectrometers and analyzing equipment.
- Experience in analyzing and collecting large amounts of data.
- Research aptitude
- Thorough knowledge of Life Sciences
- Ability to test and update your knowledge with experience
- Ability to focus and adapt to new technology.
- Analysis & observation
- Critical thinking and reasoning
- Information about medical software and equipment
How to Become a Virologist
- Get your bachelor’s degree
A bachelor’s degree is a prerequisite for many virologists. This can be in biology or chemistry. This gives you a foundation in science that will help you understand more complicated topics as you move on to higher education. This degree program usually offers courses in cell biology, microbiology, and mathematics. Many of these science-related courses can be found in a lab. This will allow you to gain more experience in working in a laboratory environment.
- Join a medical school
After you have completed your Bachelor of Science degree you are eligible to apply for medical school. The majority of medical school programs last for around four years. All medical schools require that their applicants take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and enroll. To earn your doctorate, you will need to be able to work in medicine and treat patients.
If you are interested in conducting in-depth research on common diseases and viruses throughout your career, you might consider a Ph.D. in immunology/virology. Taking the Graduate Record Examination can help. This will test your scientific and biological knowledge. Dual programs are offered by some institutions that allow you to simultaneously earn your Ph.D. as well as your doctorate in approximately four to six years.
- Complete Ph.D. Training
There are Ph.D. programs for students who are pursuing a doctorate. They involve intense research into viruses and their effects, as well as finding cures and treatments. Basic courses such as bacteria structure, eukaryotic genes, and virology could be taken in your first year. You will spend the second year in the laboratory where you’ll conduct regular lab rotations and studies on different samples.
You may be required to teach or take qualifying exams in the second and third year. You may spend your third and fourth years researching and writing your dissertation on topics such as parasitology, vaccine development, environmental virus, or pediatric infections.
- Take a medical school
You may only be attending medical school if you spend the first two years doing basic lab and lecture work. Basic scientific subjects such as biology, biochemistry, and anatomy can be studied. You can usually complete your final year of medical school by completing clinical rotations in a medical facility. This will allow you to learn more about the area you want to study, such as family medicine or pediatrics.
- You can pursue your research by taking residency programs
You can further your education and experience during residency programs, which last around three years after you have graduated from medical school. They can also work under physicians in any area of medicine they are interested in during this program. Because they are directly involved in diagnosing and curing common virus infections, most virologists choose to do residencies in pediatrics or internal medicine.
Postdoctoral training is required for those who wish to specialize in virology research. This training is also called a fellowship. To help you conduct your research more efficiently in your chosen area, seminars, retreats, and presentations are available.
- Get your medical license
You will need to have a medical license if you want to work as a clinical virologist. This is required by most employers after you have received your doctorate. You may need to meet additional requirements in some states to get your license. Do your research to find out what is required in your state.
Where to Work
There are many opportunities for virologists, especially with new viruses appearing every day and constant research. They also work in government laboratories and agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, National Institutes of Health, and water treatment facilities. A virologist can also pursue a career as a researcher or educator.
Virologist Salary Scale
A virologist earns an average annual salary of $53,000. This salary is dependent on their education, training, experience, and the place they work.