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.

 

 

Education Needed to Become a DNA Analyst

You'll likely 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. 

 

 

 

 

General 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. 

 

 

Typical Duties of the Job

• 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

 

 

Average Salary Level

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.

 

Salary in Canada: According to the 2016 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey (the latest figures available at the time of writing (June 21, 2019), Albertans in the closely related Forensic Laboratory Analyst occupational group earn an average salary of $62,913 per year. Unfortunately, no similar statistics were available from reliable sources for other Canadian provinces or territories. 

 

Salary in the 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 Employs DNA Analysts?

Organizations that typically employ 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)

 

 

Work Environment for DNA Analysts

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.

 

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.

 

 

Current Job Opportunities in This Field

Our job board below has DNA analyst postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, when available.

 

 

Similar Career Profiles in Our Database

Listed below are professions in our system that are similar in nature to this one, as they involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.

 

Clinical Technician

Crime Lab Assistant

Forensic Chemist

Forensic Lab Analyst

Laboratory Manager

 

 

References

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

United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website: www.bls.gov

University of Arizona website: biology.arizona.edu

 

 

Scholarships for Becoming a DNA Analyst

Scholarships listed for majors that apply to becoming a DNA analyst can be found on our Biology Scholarships, Biochemistry Scholarships and Chemistry Scholarships pages.

 

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!

 

 

Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point for working in this field. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!

 

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