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Genetic Counselor

Genetic counselors are the healthcare professionals who are involved in educating the people about the likeliness of getting genetic diseases or disorders. Typically, genetic counselors would use information from the medical history of the patients’ families. This healthcare career has already found a place in my article ‘8 Most Exciting Healthcare Jobs for 2016’. Now, I would like to discuss the career roadmap of genetic counselor here. Continue reading to know more about this job position.

Where can you find this Job Position?

Today, genetic counselors are required in various organizations. More often, you can find this job position in the following work settings:

  • Medical centers

  • Physicians’ offices

  • Health maintenance organizations

  • Advocacy organizations

  • Government agencies

  • Public health departments

  • Biotech companies

  • University medical centers

  • Hospitals


What are the Duties and Responsibilities of a Genetic Counselor?

The duties and responsibilities of a genetic counselor may include the following:

  • Talking with patients in order to obtain all the information about the patients’ and their families’ medical histories

  • Assessing the obtained genetic information in order to determine the patients, as well as families’ risk for genetic diseases or disorders

  • Writing consultation reports for providing details about genetic concepts and for referring physicians

  • Discussing the possible test options

  • Educating on the risks, advantages, and disadvantages of the tests

  • Counseling the patients and their families by giving information about the genetic risks

  • Being a part of the genetic organizations and conferences to keep updated about the advancements in genetics and genomics


How to become a Genetic Counselor?

Educational Requirements:

To become a certified genetic counselor, you need to complete a master’s degree in genetic counseling and pass an examination. For getting enrolled in a genetic counseling master’s program, you would typically need a bachelor’s degree in a healthcare-related field. Although any biology degree can be studied the coursework focusing in the following subject areas will be an added advantage for you:

  • Genetics

  • Biochemistry

  • Statistics


A master’s degree program in genetic counseling would include the classes in the subjects like:

  • Human genetics

  • Public health

  • Epidemiology

  • Psychology

  • Developmental biology


Remember that, you need to enroll in an accredited genetic counseling degree program to acquire a job position in the United States. You can find the list of accredited programs on ‘Accreditation Council for Genetic Engineering’.

Certification and Licensing:

It is to be noted that the certification for genetic counselors is being provided by the ‘American Board of Genetic Counseling’.

When it comes to license, as of now, twenty states in the United States require the genetic counselors to be licensed.

Job Outlook and Opportunities:

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment opportunities for genetic counselors are estimated to increase by 29% from the year 2014 to 2024.

Pay:

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for the genetic counselors is found to be $72,090 (as of May 2015) per year which is equal to $34.66 per hour.

Summary:

Average Annual Pay:  $72,090

Average Hourly Pay: $34.66

Education:  Master’s degree

Employment Growth from 2014 to 2024: 29%

On-the-job training: None

Work Experience: None