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An individual who wishes to become a genetic engineer will likely have a strong interest in science. The path to genetic engineering is often fairly specific and includes many years of education. Specific skills may be required, such research skills and knowledge of specialized equipment. Current knowledge of scientific literature in the field is also often necessary to become a genetic engineer.
Genetic engineers are usually research scientists who work with animal, human, or plant genes. These individuals manipulate genes and produce living organisms. They may look for ways to fight or cure diseases. Genetic engineers often specialize in a particular scientific area, such as animal husbandry, and work in that field for their entire careers.
After completing high school, someone who wishes to become a genetic engineer should attend an accredited four year institution. Students should earn undergraduate degrees in a science-related field. Biology, chemistry, zoology, botany, or general science are all relevant options and will prepare the student for advanced study, which is the next step in the process of becoming a genetic engineer.
Generally, the advanced field of study should be chosen before applying to graduate schools. Some options for advanced study include genetics, microbiology, biochemistry, medical science, or biosciences. Courses in immunology and advanced genetics may also be included in the course of study.
Some students decide to spend an additional three to four years pursuing a doctoral degree in genetic engineering. Many individuals spend much of their doctoral study performing research or assisting in a lab in their specialized field of study. Concurrently, they will also draft and complete a dissertation that details their research or study.
Practical experience is important for individuals who wish to become a genetic engineer; in addition to work completed during the course of doctoral study, students may often benefit from lab courses. Professors or other contacts developed during study can often be good resources when study is complete and full time work is sought. Networking in the field while taking courses may improve the chances of obtaining a genetic engineering job.
In addition to formal education, genetic engineers need to be familiar with certain lab techniques and tools; for example, some work may require the use of scanners and microscopes. Analytical skills are important for interpreting results of lab experiments. Research and writing, in order to keep up-to-date in the field, are also important skills to have in order to become a genetic engineer.