How to Become a Mycologist

How to Become a Mycologist: Career Guide

Becoming a mycologist takes a combination of education, an interest in plants and a passion for science and nature, the proper skill set, and knowing where to look for a job.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to succeed in a career as a mycologist. We've also included helpful information for a mycologist career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education Needed to Become a Mycologist

To become a mycologist, you need to begin by earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, Mycology, Botany or a closely related field. While you are earning your undergraduate degree, you should be getting a good idea of where your interests and ambitions lie for your specialty in mycology.


If you want to become a mycologist who works as a consultant in the health, pharmaceutical, environmental, horticulture or agriculture sectors, you will need a master’s degree in biology, mycology or a related field.


To become a mycologist who works in research and university teaching positions a PhD in Biology or Mycology is needed. Many mycologists also choose to continue their training as post-doctoral fellows after receiving their Ph.Ds.


Most colleges and universities in Canada and the United States offer a biology program with a specialization in mycology, and many of them allow you to customize your course load to some extent, based on your career goals and interests.


Success Tip: Working in a lab as a student can be great for your resume, contact your professors to see if they need extra help, or know of someone who does!





Mycologist Job Description 

Mycologists are responsible for studying the properties of fungi, which are classified as an independent field of organisms. They may be employed by government agencies, universities, corporations or private research organizations. 



Mycologist Job Duties

• Study fungi found in plants, animals and humans

• May study mushrooms exclusively or other forms of fungi that can cause problems for humans, plants and animals

• Research the cell structure of fungi

• Identify and study how fungi reproduce and grow

• Research how fungi can be used to produced food



Who Hires Mycologists?

Mycologist careers can take many different forms, as there are many employers, representing many different sectors of industry that are interested in the skills and knowledge of mycologists. Below is an example of the types of employers that hire mycologists.


• Agricultural research agencies/firms

• Biological photography companies

• Biological supply companies

• Biotechnology firms

• Colleges, universities, and plant research centers

• Ecological consulting companies

• Environmental and biotechnical regulatory agencies

• Environmental impact research and assessment organizations

• Federal biological/botanical agencies

• Food production companies

• Food regulation department of government

• Marine/freshwater biological organizations

• Museums and conservatories

• National, state/provincial parks

• Pharmaceutical firms

• Schools (teacher)

• Science journals





Mycologist Salary

It's difficult to determine how much mycologists make, as it is very difficult to acquire accurate information regarding their salary levels. However, the U.S Labor and Statistics Bureau reports that the median salary for Microbiologists, who typically perform duties very similar to those of mycologists, was $65,920 USD per year.


In Canada, the numbers are a little different. According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, those working the in Biologists and Related Scientists occupational group (which includes mycologists) in Alberta earned an average wage of $26.73 to $62.00 per hour.  


Please Note: Salary levels can vary greatly for mycologists, depending on the level of education, who the employer is, and the amount of experience of the mycologist.



Work Environment for Mycologists

Mycologists typically either spend their time out in the field collecting samples, in laboratories performing research, in offices giving presentations, or in classrooms conducting lectures.


Mycologists may encounter some danger in their work, as some forms of fungi can pose serious health risks for humans. As a result, mycologists may have to wear protective clothing, gloves and masks in certain situations.



Careers Similar to Mycologist

Listed below are jobs that are similar in nature to Mycologist, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.





Molecular Biologist




References: Mycologist Career

Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a mycologist.


Occupations in Alberta:Biologist.” (March 31, 2019). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 4, 2020.

Life, Physical, and Social Science:Microbiologists.” (September 4, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved January 4, 2020.

Careers:Fun With Fungi: Mycology Careers.” Sara Coelho (July 3, 2009). American Association for the Advancement of Science website. Retrieved January 4, 2020.



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Scholarships for Becoming a Mycologist

Scholarships listed for majors that apply to becoming a Mycologist can be found on our Biology Scholarships and Botany Scholarships pages.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Becoming a Mycologist: Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a mycologist. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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