A mycologist is a scientist who specializes in a little-known corner of microbiology: the study of fungi. According to the Job Descriptions website, a mycologist studies the structure and genetics of fungi, and may apply his knowledge to agriculture, for the development of new molds and yeasts; to medicine, for new drugs; or even to commercial uses, such as the eradication of toxic molds from buildings. He may provide expert testimony to the police in the event of a mushroom poisoning.
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Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the mean annual wage for a microbiologist generally is $72,030, the Salary List website reports a mycologist makes an average annual salary of $45,547 and a median salary of $49,771, for a salary range of $30,500 to $65,000. The BLS reports that microbiologists working for the federal government make the most on average, with an annual mean wage of $99,650. Those working for scientific research and development, and pharmaceutical and medical development, make $72,860 and $68,770 a year, respectively.
A mycologist may work in a variety of sectors, according to Science Magazine. He may work for the government or a university in biological research and development; he may be employed by a pharmaceutical company to help develop a new drug utilizing fungi; he may work as an independent consultant to industry; or an agricultural company might hire him to increase produce yields by preventing or curing plant disease.
Differences by Location
California, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York and North Carolina hire the most microbiologists, according to the BLS. Of these, Maryland has the highest annual mean wage at $100,110 and North Carolina the lowest, at $62,240. Most microbiologists are employed within the scientific research and development sector.
Although the demand for mycologists is small, according to Science Magazine, the job outlook still remains good, because mycology is such a specialized field that there's a lack of qualified people to fill the available jobs. Because knowledge of fungi has applications in the pharmaceutical, commercial and agricultural sectors, as well as academia, mycologists have a range of potential job opportunities.