Job Description:

A virologist studies viruses, including their structure, behavior, replication, and impact on organisms, in order to understand, prevent, and treat viral infections.

Job Category:
Pharmaceutical & Life Sciences

What you will do:

As a virologist, you will be:

  • Studying the structure, genetics, and behavior of viruses to understand their mechanisms and interactions with hosts
  • Identifying viral infections and diseases through laboratory testing and analysis
  • Developing vaccines and antiviral drugs to prevent and treat viral infections
  • Tracking and studying the spread of viral diseases within populations
  • Advising on measures to control and manage viral outbreaks to protect public health
  • Sharing findings and knowledge through scientific publications, teaching, and public awareness campaigns
  • Working with medical professionals, researchers, and government agencies to address viral threats
  • Exploring new technologies and methods to advance virology research and diagnostic tools
  • Conducting trials to test the effectiveness of new antiviral drugs and therapies
  • Contributing to measures that prevent accidental release or intentional misuse of viruses


You will need:

  • knowledge in microbiology, molecular biology
  • knowledge in virology, immunology and epidemiology
  • knowledge in genetics, bioinformatics, and medical sciences
  • knowledge of laboratory techniques

As well as:

Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a virologist, you will need a strong foundation in science and a focus on subjects related to biology and chemistry during your years. Here are the key subjects and skills that can be beneficial for pursuing a career in virology:

  1. Biology: Provides a strong foundation in biological concepts, cell structure, genetics, and microbiology that are directly relevant to virology.
  2. Chemistry: Offers an understanding of chemical reactions, molecular structures, and biochemical processes essential for studying viruses.
  3. Physics: Helps in grasping principles of energy, light, and physical properties that can be relevant in understanding certain virological aspects.
  4. Mathematics: Develops analytical and quantitative skills important for data analysis and interpretation in virological research.
  5. English: Enhances communication skills, crucial for writing research papers, reports, and communicating findings effectively.
  6. ICT (Information and Communication Technology): Familiarises you with digital tools and technologies used in modern research and data analysis.

While these subjects provide a strong foundation, keep in mind that higher education and specialisation in virology will further develop your expertise in this field.

Post School

To become a virologist, you typically need the following qualifications and requirements:


A bachelor’s degree in a relevant field such as biology, microbiology, or a related discipline is usually the starting point. Many virologists pursue higher degrees, such as master’s or doctoral degrees (Ph.D.), specializing in virology.

Advanced Degree

A Ph.D. or equivalent advanced degree in virology or a closely related field is often necessary for conducting independent research and advancing in the field.

Research Experience

Practical laboratory experience is crucial. This can be gained through internships, research assistant positions, and participation in research projects during your education.

Publication and Research

Building a portfolio of published research articles in reputable scientific journals demonstrates your expertise and contribution to the field.


Virology is a diverse field. Developing expertise in a specific area, such as viral genetics, antiviral therapies, or viral pathogenesis, can enhance your career prospects.


Establishing connections within the virology community by attending conferences, seminars, and collaborating with researchers helps to stay updated and create opportunities.

Licensing or Certifications

Depending on the role, working in certain laboratories or dealing with specific viruses might require certifications or clearances.

Working Hours and Environment:

Virologists typically work full-time hours in laboratory and research settings, with occasional evening or weekend work during experiments or outbreaks. They may work in academic institutions, government agencies, pharmaceutical companies, or research organisations, collaborating with teams of scientists and researchers.

Career Path & Progression:

The common career path for a virologist includes obtaining relevant education, starting as a research assistant, pursuing advanced degrees, progressing through research positions, potentially entering academia as a professor, and exploring opportunities in industry or government sectors.