How to Become a Geneticist
According to O*NET OnLine, over 90% of the geneticists surveyed held a doctoral degree and over half reported to have post-doctoral training. You would first gain your bachelor’s degree in a related science such as biology and then continue with your master’s and doctorate in genetics. You can also specialize in various aspects of genetics and that could require additional education. For example, there are clinical geneticists who have gone through medical school and work in a clinical setting with patients.
According to the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG), they “hold American Board of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ABMGG) certification in the specialty of clinical genetics and genomics and have broad training in the evaluation, diagnosis, management and treatment of inherited conditions in patients across all ages from birth to adulthood.”
The following video from the American Society of Human Genetics goes into more detail.
Job Description of a Geneticist
The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) offers an informative in-depth video about the exciting field of genetics.
Visit ASHG.org for the downloadable Genetics PDF mentioned at the end of the video (link opens in a new tab). In addition to the video above and the Genetics PDF, ASHG also hosts interviews at their online Career Center (link opens in a new tab).
Geneticists review the results of genetic laboratory tests and work to diagnose or attempt to treat genetic diseases. This is a highly technical, ever evolving field so those in this career must keep up-to-date with the latest research and advances in the field.
The United States Department of Agriculture was in need of a Geneticist for their Agricultural Research Service. The responsibilities posted on USAjobs.gov included:
- Serve as a resource for genetic stocks and descriptive information on gene and chromosome functions
- Conduct and oversee general evaluation and research of new and existing maize mutant accessions, providing seed samples of stocks to plant scientists throughout the world.
- Serve as primary contact with the USDA Germplasm Resources Information Network, the national computerized germplasm database.
- Develops new computer procedures and programs to more efficiently manage the collection and associated data.
Resources for Teachers
ASHG.org also has a K-12 Education page with resources for parents and teachers. Teachers, this also includes lesson plans.
The University of Utah Health Sciences also offers a website called Teach.Genetics by their Genetic Science Learning Center. This site offers free genetics and bioscience resources to support your curriculum free of charge.
Geneticist Career Video
A geneticist is a biologist who studies the inheritance of traits in living organisms. Geneticists extract DNA and perform tests, then interpret the laboratory results. They apply their knowledge of statistics and math to evaluate genetic data, and keep detailed records to record their results. Some geneticists study genetic disorders carried from parents to children, and research potential cures and treatments. They may also teach medical students and graduate students, and may need to write grant proposals to seek research funds. Other geneticists diagnose hereditary conditions in patients and treat them.
Geneticists may also consult on criminal cases to help officials positively identify suspects using DNA analysis, or team up with archaeologists to study ancient organic matter. Other geneticists focus on improving agricultural crop resilience and productivity. Geneticists continue to read and study throughout their careers and keep up with changes in the field. Many involved in research attend and may also present their findings at conferences. Most positions require a master’s degree or Ph.D. in genetics, and many also require work experience in the field. Clinical geneticists must complete a Doctor of Medicine degree, followed by a medical residency in genetics. A license is required for all physicians and may be required for some other positions.
National Center for O*NET Development. 19-1029.03. O*NET OnLine.
American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (various pages on website)
The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.