Genome-enabled approaches to molecular epidemiology have become essential to public health agencies and the microbial research community. We developed the algorithm STing to provide turn-key solutions for molecular typing and gene detection directly from next-generation sequence data of microbial pathogens. Our implementation of STing uses an innovative k-mer search strategy that eliminates the computational overhead associated with the time consuming steps of quality control, assembly, and alignment required by more traditional methods. We compared STing to six of the most widely used programs for genome-based molecular typing and demonstrate its ease of use, accuracy, speed, and efficiency. STing shows superior accuracy and performance for standard multilocus sequence typing schemes, along with larger genome-scale typing schemes, and it enables rapid automated detection of antimicrobial resistance and virulence factor genes. We hope that the adoption of STing will help to democratize microbial genomics and thereby maximize its benefit for public health.