Education
Fact-checked

At PracticalAdultInsights, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

How Do I Become a Geneticist?

To become a geneticist, you'll need a strong foundation in biology, chemistry, and mathematics. Start with a bachelor's degree in a related field, then pursue a master's or doctorate in genetics. Internships or research projects provide practical experience. Lastly, consider certification for specialization.
Brandi L. Brown
Brandi L. Brown

Someone who wants to become a geneticist should research the industry and its three broad specialties: population genetics, molecular genetics and medical genetics. Population geneticists work to track patterns and anomalies in human deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) to determine what factors influence the development of certain traits. Molecular geneticists work to decode DNA to pinpoint what genes control what traits; the role of these scientists is to provide new information that other scientists can use to develop treatment or cures for various illnesses. People in medical genetics meet with patients who have genetic disorders and work to provide treatment.

To become a geneticist requires years of training in the hard sciences. Most people who work as geneticists have degrees in biology. Anyone who is considering becoming a geneticist should take courses in high-level mathematics, chemistry, physics and biology. Those who want to become a geneticist to work with the public also should consider courses in management and communications. This undergraduate education will prepare future genetic researchers to gain entry into graduate school, where training for life as a geneticist truly begins.

Most geneticists need a doctoral degree.
Most geneticists need a doctoral degree.

A doctoral degree in philosophy (Ph.D.) is necessary for almost all geneticists, regardless of their specialty. Medical geneticists often also have medical degrees. Doctoral work to become a geneticist usually requires training in a biological science. The training typically lasts from seven to 10 years. During this time, people training to become geneticists work as lab technicians and research assistants alongside established researchers.

Geneticists may conduct DNA research.
Geneticists may conduct DNA research.

After the considerable training to become a geneticist is complete, the transition into a full-time career begins. The most common employers for genetic engineers are pharmaceutical and medical research companies and colleges and universities. At private-sector research companies, geneticists spend their time in labs working on finding information that will lead to the development of new medications. Competition for these jobs and in this area of the industry often is fierce, because a substantial amount of money is on the line based on what the scientists uncover.

The most common employers for genetic engineers are pharmaceutical and medical research companies and colleges and universities.
The most common employers for genetic engineers are pharmaceutical and medical research companies and colleges and universities.

Academic geneticists may find themselves doing double duty as teachers and researchers. As teachers, these scientists will instruct undergraduate students in the biological sciences, while research at academic institutions often consists of more theoretical work. So-called “basic” scientific research means scientists explore and examine without a particular goal. Scientists trying to decode the human genome fall into this research category. Academic geneticists have no profit goal in mind, which allows them to focus on discovery.

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register:
    • Most geneticists need a doctoral degree.
      By: Darren Baker
      Most geneticists need a doctoral degree.
    • Geneticists may conduct DNA research.
      By: Andres Rodriguez
      Geneticists may conduct DNA research.
    • The most common employers for genetic engineers are pharmaceutical and medical research companies and colleges and universities.
      By: WavebreakmediaMicro
      The most common employers for genetic engineers are pharmaceutical and medical research companies and colleges and universities.
    • Fluorescence microscopes may be used in genetic research.
      By: Sven Hoppe
      Fluorescence microscopes may be used in genetic research.
    • Clinical geneticists may offer consultations to patients who have concerns about how their genes will affect the development of their unborn children.
      By: Alexandr Vasilyev
      Clinical geneticists may offer consultations to patients who have concerns about how their genes will affect the development of their unborn children.