Genetic Counselor Careers
Do you know someone with a genetic disorder? Genetic disorders are diseases that run in the family tree that can cause physical, emotional, behavioral, or intellectual problems. Some examples are Fragile X Syndrome, Autism, Cancer, Downs Syndrome, Sickle-Cell Anemia, Huntington’s Disease, Spinal Bifida, Muscular Dystrophy, Multiple Sclerosis, Obesity, or Cystic Fibrosis. There are thousands of different genetic disorders that exist in the world.
Genetic disorders are a challenging thing to deal with. Understanding the disease and its consequences leaves people with lots of questions. To answer those questions patients and family members turn to a genetic counselor.
Genetic counselors help people understand and manage genetic disorders. Individuals and families seek out the help of a genetic counselor at all stages of life – from pre-conception throughout adulthood. People want help to determine how the genetic disorder will affect the family, the patient, and their potential offspring.
It’s the genetic counselor’s job to recommend testing, explain conditions, determine family health history, evaluate the family tree to determine future risk, discuss treatment options, provide support, and recommend organizations and specialists for further consultation.
A genetic counselor works with a team of health care professionals. They work together to determine the best course of action for the family and patient. They must be knowledgeable about thousands of genetic disorders. Genetic counselors research and interpret the results of genetic testing and genetic mapping to help determine the answers to questions like: Is it a dominant or recessive gene? Is it possessed by one parent or both? How will it affect the family in the future?
The goal of a genetic counselor is to increase people’s understandings of a certain genetic disorder that specifically affects them. They help people learn how to manage the genetic disorder, discuss benefits and risks of testing, identify others at risk, and answer other questions.
Next the genetic counselor must advise families of consequences, risks, and nature of inherited disorders. This includes how the disease can develop, be transmitted, and how it will affect future family planning. Working with families who are dealing with a challenging situation requires a compassionate, caring personality.
To become a genetic counselor, you must have a Master’s Degree in Genetic Counseling from an American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC) accredited program. There are only 31 accredited programs in the US. After completion of the degree, a genetic counselor must be certified by the ABGC. Depending on where they live, they may also be required to have a state license.
Genetic counselors can find work in medical offices, hospitals, non profit organizations, universities, and laboratories. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, genetic counselors make $56,800 per year or $27.31 per hour. As of 2012, there were 21,000 genetic counselors in the US. This number is expected to grow by 41% by 2022. Now is a good time to pursue this career.
Genetic counselors help people learn about genetic disorders and help them plan for a successful way to manage those disorders. Being a genetic counselor is like being a detective, a scientist, and a psychologist all mixed into one. That makes it a very cool, but challenging niche. Do you think you want to find a genetic counselor job?
Quick Facts About Genetic Counselor Careers
Job Title: Genetic Counselor
Office: Medical clinics and laboratories
Description: Help people understand and manage genetic disorders
Certifications/Education: Master’s degree in Genetic Counseling, ABGC certification
Necessary Skills: Knowledge of genetic disorders, Compassionate and caring personality
Potential Employers: Medical offices, hospitals, non profit organizations, universities, and laboratories
Pay: $56,800 per year or $27.31 per hour