How to Become a Geneticist
A geneticist is a specialist in the field of genes and heredity. A geneticist has a background in science, usually within chemistry or biology. If you are interested in biology, genetics, and the wider applications of these subjects, then you might like to become a geneticist.
There are many different fields you could work in as a geneticist. Many are employed by colleges as teachers and researchers. Some geneticists work in labs where they perform research and testing, such as paternity tests. Others may become genetic counselors. These are just few of the paths you could choose to follow as a geneticist.
Education Requirements to Become a Geneticist
There are two different ways to become a geneticist. The option you choose will depend on the kind of work you want to do.
If you are interested in research, teaching, and laboratory work then you should look to attaining a PhD in genetics. You would start this process by first completing a four year bachelor's degree with a major in genetics or biology. You would then go on to graduate study, such as a master's program, then on to a doctorate in the specific area of genetics you are interested.
To work one on one with patients who are suffering from a genetic disorder you will need to become a medical doctor. You will need to first complete a four year bachelor's degree, and then go on to complete four years of medical school. You'll then need to complete an internship, then a residency that has a focus on the area of genetics you are interested in.
Geneticist Job Description
The career possibilities for a geneticist are as board and varied as the field of genetics is itself. Genetics is a relatively new field of science, and there is much research work yet to be done. For this reason, there is a lot of funding in this area and lots of opportunity to conduct research.
Many geneticists are employed by colleges. Here they will teach classes in the school semesters, then complete their own research throughout the year. They also publish papers in academic journals.
Some geneticists work in labs. Here they may do research into new areas of genetics performing functions like DNA tests and other specialized experiments. They could look for results for medical testing, in the instance that it's suspected a patient has a genetic disorder.
A genetic counselor provides a service to a couple which has a risk of passing on a genetic disorder to their children. They will speak with the parents about the risk of passing on the disorder to any children they might have, as well as come up with strategies to avoid or treat it if possible.
Here are some of the fields you could work in when you become a geneticist:
- Genetic researcher
- Research assistant
- Genetic counseling
- Animal breeding consultant
Geneticist Salary and Career Path
There are many different paths you can follow as a geneticist. If your goal is to work in a college, then you will probably get your first paid job as a graduate teacher while you are completing your postgraduate studies. Upon completing your PhD, you will be able to work as an instructor and progress towards tenure. You'll also have more opportunities to peruse your own research.
Those in laboratory setting will often start out as research assistant, then go on to have greater responsibilities. They could go on to work as a supervisor, or to conduct their own research projects.
A geneticist with a medical degree may work one on one with patients, or work in research to help treat and prevent genetic disorders. They may also go on to work as a genetic counselor.
The median salary of a geneticist is between $64,000 and $87,000 a year for those working in research. A college professor could expect to earn a median salary of $94,000 a year. A medical doctor would earn closer to $116,000 a year.
Some similar roles to that of geneticist include:
When you become a geneticist, you can look forward to a long career that will offer you many different options and opportunities over the years. You will also have the chance to help improve the health and life qualities of those who suffer from genetic diseases.
*Salary Information provided by the Bureau Of Labor Statistics