A microscopist is any scientist or technician who routinely uses a microscope in his or her work. While beginning students usually have some experience with simple light microscopes, there are many types of more sophisticated microscopes for special purposes, such as phase contrast and fluorescence light microscopes, scanning and transmission electron microscopes, and tunneling electron microscopes that can see even down to the level of individual molecules. These types of microscopes require specialized training to be able to prepare specimens properly, use the microscope, and record the images.
Many scientists who work in anatomy, cytology , and other fields employ technicians to maintain and operate specialized microscopes, and employment opportunities for microscopists are abundant. Positions for technicians typically require a bachelor of science degree, although some are available with only a high school diploma and on-the-job training, an associate's degree, or certification from a training program in areas such as electron microscopy. Independent research in microscopy usually requires a master's degree or doctorate.
Microscopists are employed by universities, medical schools, hospitals, museums, industries, and government agencies. Microscopists work not only in biology but also in medicine, chemistry, geology, materials science, electronics, forensic science, food science, and other fields.
To prepare for a career in microscopy, one should take four years of high school science and mathematics; biology, chemistry, physics, and geology are all related to microscopy. Further training on the job or in college may involve physics (especially optics and electromagnetism), electronics, photography (for photomicrography and microcinematography), and histotechnique (slicing and staining tissues for microscopic examination). Biology, geology, chemistry, and physics are among the appropriate choices of a college major; a minor in photography or astronomy would also enhance one's qualifications. One's hobbies can also provide a good grounding for a career in microscopy; for example, photography (especially closeup nature photography), photoprocessing, and astronomy (which employs similar principles of optics).
Kenneth S. Saladin and Sara E. Miller
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