What does a genetic counselor do?

Genetic counselors provide information and support to those who have birth defects or genetic (inherited) disorders, or who are at risk for such conditions. Genetic counselors may conduct research on the cause or treatment of disorders, or they may work to help families and individuals cope with the condition.

What might a genetic counselor do in a workday?

  • explain the likelihood that other family members will experience the same disorder.
  • help individuals and families choose the best course of action, given the level of risk, family goals, and ethical or religious values.
  • evaluate family medical histories to determine the role of heredity.
  • help individuals and families learn the facts and understand how to manage the disorder.
  • perform research in the field of medical genetics and genetic counseling.
  • educate and inform other health professionals and the general public.

Developing a career as a genetic counselor?

Genetic counselors seeking further education may specialize in molecular, biochemical, medical, population genetics, or psychology. They may specialize according to types of conditions, such as muscular dystrophy, cancer, or mental retardation. They often work for universities, at research centers and teaching hospitals, and private health care practices, while some are employed by public health organizations or government agencies with specific genetic health interests.

How much does a genetic counselor earn?

  • $36,000 - $110,000

How do I become a genetic counselor?

Students interested in becoming genetic counselors should prepare by taking the most challenging high school courses available in science, math, and English, including advanced placement courses.

Genetic counselors have master’s degrees in genetic counseling and are nationally certified. The requirements for admission to master’s-level programs vary by school, but most applicants have undergraduate training in biology, chemistry, or behavioral sciences.

Recommended Activities: Many genetic counseling applicants volunteer with organizations that provide advice and services to individuals with physical, emotional, and/or developmental disabilities, or organizations that provide crisis intervention services.

Where else can I learn about becoming a genetic counselor?

American College of Medical Genetics
7220 Wisconsin Ave, Suite 300 / Bethesda, MD  20814
tel:  301-718-9603 / web: http://www.acmg.net

National Society of Genetic Counselors
401 N Michigan Ave / Chicago, IL  60611
tel:  312-321-6834 / web:  http://www.nsgc.org

American Board of Genetic Counseling
PO Box 14216 / Lenexa, KS  66285
tel:  913-895-4617 / web:  http://www.abgc.net


Educational Institutions in Virginia for Genetic Counseling: