How to Become a DNA Analyst: Career Path Guide
To become a DNA analyst, you need to first determine if this is a suitable career path for you. Can you handle high-pressure and distressing work conditions? Are you skilled in science and have a patient, methodical approach to analyzing biological samples? If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to these questions, then you may be well suited for a career in this field.
Below we've outlined what you'll need to succeed in a career as a DNA analyst. We've also included helpful information for a DNA analyst career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!
Education Needed to Become a DNA Analyst
To become a DNA analyst, you typically need a bachelor's degree related to biology, microbiology, molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics or forensic sciences.
Coursework that allows you to have a complete understanding of each stage of DNA analysis, as well as be proficient with the procedures, techniques, applications, terms, and scientific principles of DNA analysis will help you break seamlessly into a career as a DNA analyst.
Coursework that is especially helpful includes microbiology, immunology, infectious diseases, gene development and biochemistry. Most university science programs include mandatory participation in laboratory work, which helps students gain experience with laboratory processes, procedures and equipment.
DNA Analyst Job Description
DNA analysts are responsible for preparing, analyzing tissue samples, and interpreting their results, in order to determine the genetic origins and properties of the sample. As many of the samples they examine are related to criminal evidence, DNA analysts must follow strict protocol when handling and storing the samples, and may be required to testify as expert witnesses on their findings.
DNA Analyst Job Duties
• Compile tissue and organic samples such as hair follicles, skin cells, bodily fluids and others
• Isolate DNA strands within sample
• Unknown samples are compared against known samples in order to identify matches
• May be required to testify in court regarding findings
• Peer review the work of other DNA analysts; including re-testing samples and double-checking the findings of reports
• Oversee the proper storage of samples (while following very strict protocol)
• Attend seminars, lectures, and forensic functions for the purpose of continuous professional development
DNA Analyst Salary
The salary level of DNA analysts can vary depending on factors such as their level of experience, their level of education, where they work, and many others.
DNA Analyst Salary Alberta: According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Chemical Technologists and Technicians occupational group earn an average wage of $35.15 per hour.
DNA Analyst Salary Canada: According to Service Canada, the average salary of workers in the Medical Laboratory Technicians occupational group (who perform similar duties as those of crime lab assistants) is $40,543 per year.
DNA Analyst Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for workers in the Forensic Science Technicians occupational group is $51,570 per year.
Who Hires DNA Analysts?
Organizations that typically hire DNA Analysts include:
• Privately owned research laboratories
• Healthcare facilities such as hospitals
• Municipal, provincial/state and federal crime labs
• Biotechnology companies
• Colleges and universities (as researchers)
DNA Analyst Job Opportunities
DNA Analyst Jobs - Canada
DNA Analyst Jobs - United States
Work Environment for DNA Analysts
Working Conditions: The work conditions of a DNA analyst can be quite stressful, as workers must be very diligent in order to ensure mistakes are not made, and the work is completed in a timely manner. There may be some exposure to risk in this job, as assistants may have to work around dangerous chemicals and other substances.
Work Schedule: DNA analysts usually work a traditional weekday-working schedule, although they may have to work during evenings, weekends and holidays if they are needed to work immediately, or if there are high volumes of work.
Careers Similar to DNA Analyst
Listed below are jobs that are similar in nature to DNA Analyst, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.
References: How to Become a DNA Analyst
Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a DNA Analyst.
Alberta Learning and Information Services website: alis.alberta.ca
Service Canada website: www.servicecanada.gc.ca
United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website: www.bls.gov
University of Arizona website: biology.arizona.edu
Scholarships for Becoming a DNA Analyst
Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!
Becoming a DNA Analyst: Applicable Majors
Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a DNA Analyst. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!