Microbiologist Vs Clinical Microbiologist

What is the difference between Microbiologist and Clinical Microbiologist?

(Well, I am writing this at the airport since my flight was delayed, and I just found out that this airport provide free computer and internet for those who -maybe- delayed)

The difference between Microbiologist and Clinical Microbiologist might be so obvious for some people, but I believe there were still people who do not know about it. Some people think that when you took Microbiology degree, you can immediately became a clinical microbiologist. No.

As the name implied, Clinical Microbiologist is basically a medical doctor who specialised in the field of microbiology. The pathway to became a clinical microbiologist started by entering a medical school and get that Medical degree so that you can practice as a registered medical officer. Then, after a few years of training in clinical field, then you will apply for a postgraduate study on Clinical Microbiolgy. In Malaysia, this is done by applying for pathology Master degree. You will basically be trained as a pathologist then subspecialised on Clinical Microbiology field.

While to become a microbiologist, you can apply an undergraduates degree on Microbiology and then finished your study, apply for Master degree, and finally get a PhD, then you will become a Microbiology with a doctor title.

In the end, both of this professional will be called a doctor, and both are microbiologist.

Clinical microbiologist specialised on microoroganism that are relevant to human being. Those who can cause a disease in human or not but do live in our body. A microbiologist on the other hand, specialised mostly in other microorganism not related to human. Their field is a bit wider, that is why they need a Phd to become one, meanwhile we just need a Master degree to become a clinical microbiologist. However, you need a medical degree to become a clinical microbiologist.

Both career required a certain standard. You will not become one if you only took Microbiology degree.

Which one is quicker to get? I would say Microbiologist. This was based on my own experiences. I started a 5 year medical degree, 2 years training as a House Officer, 3 years practicing as a medical officer, 1 year training as a Patholoogy Medical Officer, then I took Master degree on Clinical Microbiology which I am still doing now for the next 4 years. That was almost
15 years of training to become one. If I took Microbiology degree, I will basically get that degree in 3-4 years time, get a Master degree which require 1 year of study and PhD which may require 2-3 years of training. At most 8-9 years to become one.

The only thing that I get when I choose Clinical Microbiology was my Medical License and I can become a medical specialist when I finish my study. ( plus minus the extra allowances for medical specialist).

I would suggest those who love Microbiology to take Microbiology from their undergraduate years. Because you will saved 7 years of your life to be spend anywhere else therefore improved it for your own benefit.

But if you still think becoming a medical doctor is cool... 7 years will not matter.

No matter which one you choose, it will always be a correct choice for yourselves.


  1. Hi Dr. I've been reading your blog for a while now. It's inspiring and motivating at the same time. I have two questions, does this means that you're currently in master microbiology program and soon will become a clinical microbiologist? And what happens if someone wants to further study to become a clinical microbiologist, but not so good in pathology?

    1. Can't help you there. U have to accept pathology just to get it through. Just like subject in SPM, u don't like it, still need to pass it. After pass, u can focus on microbiology.

  2. Hi, I'm currently got a offer to study pure Biology and the uni offers major in microbiology in the third year. Can this brings me to be a medical or clinical microbiology in the future ?


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