Geneticists study genes, which contain the information controlling what a living organism is like.
1. Entry requirements
You’ll usually need a degree or a postgraduate master’s qualification in genetics or a related course which includes genetics, like biology, biochemistry, molecular biology, life sciences or biological sciences.
A PhD, or working towards a PhD would also be helpful.
The Royal Society of Biology has more information on becoming a geneticist.
2. Skills required
- practical scientific skills
- IT skills
- the ability to think clearly and logically
- problem-solving skills
- the ability to work with statistics and relevant computer packages
3. What you'll do
Geneticists use the information in genes to make discoveries and developments in a range of areas like medicine and agriculture. Depending on the area you work in, your role could include:
- developing disease and drought-resistant crops
- finding and recording disease-causing genes
- using genes to chart animal populations and conserve wildlife
- researching and developing new drugs and gene therapies
- using genetics in archaeology
- teaching students about genetics in a university
- diagnosing genetic diseases
Your day-to-day duties could include:
- using laboratory techniques to prepare and analyse samples of genetic tissue
- recording and interpreting the results of experiments and tests
- using data and statistics to develop computer models of genes
- writing reports for other professionals
- reporting and publishing your findings in scientific papers
- planning lectures and teaching students
- supervising, training and mentoring other laboratory staff
Starter: £18,000 to £20,000
Experienced: £30,000 to £42,000
Highly Experienced: £60,000 (professor)
These figures are a guide.
5. Working hours, patterns and environmentYou’ll usually work Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. You may also need to work evenings and weekends.
You’ll spend a lot of time in a laboratory using scientific instruments like microscopes. You may also spend a lot of time working at a computer.
In a laboratory, you’ll be expected to wear protective clothing, like a laboratory coat and safety glasses.
6. Career path and progressionAs a research geneticist, with experience you may be able to work your way up to laboratory supervisor or clinical study manager. Lecturing in a university or teaching may also be an option.
You could move into scientific sales or, with further studies, qualify as a genetic counsellor.
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Last updated: 07 December 2016