|MadSci Network: Virology|
Good to know people are still interested in becoming virologists...
It's a lot of work though. So hang on.
After you will finish high school, you'll have to enter a university where you will have to study 3-4 years in order to earn your bachelor's degree. With this you could easily work with viruses as a research assistant, but you would not be able to become an independent researcher. Pharmaceutical companies employ most people with these qualifications.
Now you could then continue your education for two years and earn your master's degree at the same university, or at a different one. With this degree you could become a research assistant with a better pay and you could have greater responsabilities than B.Sc. graduates. Pharmaceutical companies and academic research centers employ people with those qualifications.
Adding three (or more_ years and a Ph.D. in virology, you could become head of a unit of research, but under supervision of a lab director or an independent researcher. This is a very good job but you are still not the "boss".
With one or two post-doctoral training position, a few years each, you would be able to start your own lab by gaining governement fundings or convincing investors to put money in your ideas... now you're the boss but you have to make sure that everything goes as planned...
So it takes 9 to 12 years of education after finishing high school in order to become an independent researcher in virology but only 3 to 5 years in order to actually do research on virology... it depends on your taste for responsibilities, stress, pressure and... of course... money!
Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Virology.