How to Become a Genetic Technologist: Career Path Guide
To become a genetic technologist, you first need to determine if a career in this field is a good fit for you. If you have a keen interest in scientific work, you like working with specialized instrumentation, and you’re comfortable working in a laboratory setting, then you may be well suited for a career as a genetic technologist.
Below we've outlined what you'll need to become a genetic technologist. We've also included helpful information for a genetic technologist career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!
Education Needed To Become a Genetic Technologist
In order to get an entry-level job as a genetic technologist applicants typically need a bachelor’s degree in genetics, biology or a closely related field, such as botany.
In order to qualify for senior-level positions, such as Laboratory Manager or Genetic Counselor you typically need a graduate degree in the field of genetics. You will also need a graduate degree in genetics in order to qualify for senior-level research positions and teaching positions.
Genetic Technologist Job Description
Genetic technologists are responsible for studying biological specimens such as blood, bone marrow, tumours and amniotic fluid, and applying knowledge of DNA/RNA in order to diagnose genetic diseases and disorders.
Genetic Technologist Job Duties
• Plan and implement research studies
• Determine the costs and material needs of research activities
• Collect biological samples
• Identify any chromosomal abnormalities and aid in the diagnosis of genetic disorders
• Maintain comprehensive records of the research process and the results
• Use specialized computer software to create chromosome images
• Use specialized equipment such as microscopes, photomicroscopes or light microscopes
Skills Needed to Become a Genetic Technologist
In order to become a genetic technologist you need to have a certain set of skills, including:
• The ability to do detailed work and maintain a high level of accuracy
• Good colour and form perception
• Integrity and a professional attitude
• Must be able to solve problems logically
• Be reliable and emotionally stable
• Be able to work with little supervision
• Must be able to work with specialized equipment and instruments
How to Get a Job as a Genetic Technologist
Now that you've acquired an education, laboratory skills and research career experience, you're a shoe-in! The last thing you have to do is nail the interview...but with whom? Your last step to becoming a genetic technologist is to make a list of possible employers and suitable positions, and start handing out resumes. Do your research and figure out which companies are hiring for genetic technologist and related positions; these employers will be in a variety of sectors.
Where Do Genetic Technologists Work? Who Hires Them?
There are many employers that are able to utilize the skills, knowledge and competencies of genetic technologists for various purposes and in a multitude of settings, including:
• Private genetic, biological and medical laboratories
• Laboratories in hospitals and clinics
• Colleges and universities
• Private research laboratories and facilities
• Genetic counseling organizations
• Forensic laboratories
Find Genetic Technologist Job Postings
Gain Genetic Technologist Career Experience as a Student
To become a genetic technologist, you must typically gain at least one year of practical work experience. Most colleges and universities provide internships at local hospitals and private laboratories to gain this necessary experience. These opportunities will allow you to work under the direct supervision of an experienced genetic technologist, in order to apply the knowledge you’ve been learning in the classroom.
If your school does not require you to partake in such an opportunity, or will not set it up for you, then speak directly with your professors or your school's career services office, as they should be able to help point you in the direction of employers that offer such opportunities.
Genetic Technologist Salary: How Much Do They Earn?
The salary level of genetic technologists can vary depending on many factors, such as their level of education and training, their level of experience, where they work, and many others.
Unfortunately there is no specific salary data for genetic technologists; we can however, get a good idea of their earnings by looking at those of workers in closely related fields, such as Medical Laboratory Technologist and Biological Technicians.
Genetic Technologist Salary Alberta: According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Medical Laboratory Technologists and Pathologists' Assistants occupational group earn an average wage of $37.17 per hour.
Genetic Technologist Salary Canada: According to Service Canada workers in the Medical Laboratory Technologists and Pathologists' Assistants occupational group earn an average annual salary of $45,593.
Genetic Technician Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers in the Biological Technicians occupational group earn a median annual salary of $39,020.
Why Genetic Technologists Are Important
Genetic technologists are needed in our society to perform a variety of functions within a variety of different industries. Skilled genetic technologists can help solve such problems as:
• Matching tissue and organ transplant donors and recipients
• Diagnosing human and animal disease and inherited health conditions
• Identifying missing and displaced persons, as well as war and disaster victims
• Determining parentage
• Analyzing evidence in criminal cases to rule suspects in or out
Careers Similar to Genetic Technologist
Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to that of a genetic technologist, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.
References: How to Become a Genetic Technologist
Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a genetic technologist.
Alberta Learning and Information Services website: alis.alberta.ca
Service Canada website: www.servicecanada.gc.ca
The Michener Institute website: www.michener.ca
United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website: www.bls.gov
Scholarships for Becoming a Genetic Technologist
Scholarships listed for majors that apply to becoming a Genetic Technologist can be found on our Biology Scholarships page.
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 Genetic Technologist: Applicable Majors
Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a genetic technologist. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!