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If you're fascinated by DNA, mutation, cell growth, and concepts of heredity, genetics careers can be quite satisfying. Genetics careers make use of information obtained from many different science courses, including biology, chemistry, and physics. However, people interested in genetics careers should note that a graduate degree is required for almost all job opportunities.
The majority of people interested in genetics careers choose to work as researchers. Some of the many areas in which genetic researchers may specialize include genomics, molecular genetics, ecological genetics, transmission genetics, population genetics, and quantitative genetics. Researchers are employed by hospitals, government agencies, universities, agricultural firms, pharmaceutical companies, and biotechnology industries. Those who work for universities may also be expected to teach as part of their employment, although specific requirements can vary.
Since genetic research has the potential to help us understand how to eliminate many serious illnesses, careers in genetics can directly impact the quality of life for millions of individuals. Genetic counselors are geneticists who provide information and support to individuals or families struggling with inherited genetic disorders. This may include people who have already been diagnosed with a particular condition as well as couples who wish to know the chance a child they conceive will have a specific genetic disorder. Genetic counselors can have educational backgrounds in a number of different areas, including biology, nursing, psychology, public health, and social work. Some may engage in research activities in addition to their role as educators and patient advocates.
Forensics is becoming an increasingly popular area of specialization for people interested in careers in genetics, due to the phenomenal success of crime solving television programs like Law & Order and CSI. Genetics training can be useful for identifying unknown crime victims or working with DNA evidence to help build a case against a particular suspect. If you are interested in this type of career opportunity in the United States, keep in mind that the FBI has certain requirements you must be able to meet before you are eligible for employment at an accredited DNA testing laboratory.
In some cases, a geneticist can use his training to pursue a career in an administrative capacity. This could include managing a lab or supervising other researchers. Geneticists with strong communications skills may find that they enjoy technical writing for companies in the agricultural, pharmaceutical, or biotechnology fields. A number of geneticists also work as consultants for governmental agencies to earn extra income.