How to Become a Genetic Technologist

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 this profession.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to get started in this field. 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

To qualify for an entry-level job in this field, you'll 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. 





General Job Description

Genetic technologists are responsible for studying biological specimens such as blood, bone marrow, tumors and amniotic fluid, and applying knowledge of DNA/RNA in order to diagnose genetic diseases and disorders.



Typical 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 Be Effective

To be effective in this profession, you'll 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.





Gaining Career Experience as a Student

You'll likely need 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. 



How Much Genetic Technologists 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 - Canada: According to the 2018 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Medical Laboratory Technologists and Pathologists' Assistants occupational group earn an average salary of $46,878 per year. According to the Province of British Columbia, those in the same group working in B.C. earn an annual provincial median salary of $47,840.


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 $44,500 (May, 2018 figures).



Who Employs 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



Genetic Technologist Jobs - Current Opportunities

Our job board below has "genetic technologist" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.




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



Similar Occupational Profiles in Our Database

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to that of "genetic technologist", as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Biological Technologist

Crime Lab Assistant

DNA Analyst

Forensic Lab Analyst





Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a genetic technologist.


Occupations in Alberta:Biological Technologist.” (March 31, 2018). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved November 30, 2019.

Life, Physical & Social Science:Biological Technicians.” (September 4, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved November 30, 2019.

Programs:Genetics Technology.” (n.d.) The Michener Institute of Education at the University Health Network website. Retrieved November 30, 2019.

Career Profile:Genetic Technologist - What They Do.” (n.d.) The College Foundation of North Carolina website. Retrieved November 30, 2019.



Relevant Scholarships

Scholarships in our database that are relevant for becoming a genetic technologist are all of those that 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!



Relevant Field of Study

Studying the university major listed below is an excellent starting point for getting started in this profession:


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Genetic Technologist