How to Become A Genetic Counselor

People who evaluate the level of risk related to inherited diseases for an individual or a family are called Genetic Counselors. Inherited diseases may include all sorts of genetic disorders or birth defects etc.

Should I Become a Genetic Counselor?

A Genetic Counselor’s job is to support and provide detailed information to the clients and other health professionals who are at the risk of inherited conditions. They also detect specific genetic disorders by studying the genetic orientation. Genetic counselors also provide assessment services to expecting couples and predict the likelihood of genetic disorders such as Down Syndrome or Cystic Fibrosis in a fetus. In addition to that, they also assess the risk of developing certain genetic disorders such as, cancer, among adults.

Education Required

Master’s degree

Major Requirement

Genetic Counseling or Genetics


Licensure is mandatory in some states and requirements vary by the state


Supervised experience is required

Key Skills

Compassion, Communication, Critical-thinking and Decision-making skills

Annual Mean Salary 2018


Job Outlook 2018-2028

27% (Much faster than average)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2018)

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an annual mean salary of $80,860 for Genetic Counselors in 2018 which amounts to almost $38.88 mean wage per hour. In addition to that, BLS listed Outpatient Care Centers as the highest paying industry for this career with an annual mean salary of $101,940. Furthermore, BLS reported California as the state with the highest level of employment (490) whereas, Nevada was listed as the top paying state with an annual mean income of $95,830 for this occupation.

Career Requirements

This line of work demands individuals to be compassionate, patient, detail-oriented and have exceptional interpersonal skills. Since Genetic Counselors work in close proximity with health professionals as well as clients, they must possess excellent communication skills and empathy. A large portion of their time is spent in labs working with lab equipment to run various tests on genomes that are later evaluated to give a calculated assessment to the clients.

Steps to Become a Mental Health Counselor

If you want to begin working as a Genetic Counselor, you must acquire a certain level of education and training. The detailed roadmap for this career is given below to help you get started.

Step-1: Education

To become a Genetic Counselor, your study begins with completion of a high school diploma or a GED. Taking courses like Biology, Chemistry and other sciences help you enroll in a relevant bachelor’s degree. Enrolling in a bachelor’s degree with Genetics, Biotechnology, Molecular Biology, Biochemistry or other relevant subjects act as a pre-requisite for further advanced education. To work in this field, you must at least acquire a master’s degree in Genetics or Genetic Counselling.

Step-2: Training and Work Experience  

Employers prefer hiring people with some field experience that can be gained in the form of internships. Both bachelor’s and master’s degrees provide hands-on supervised experience in the field through internships.

Step-3: Licensure and Certification

Not all states require candidates to be licensed and the requirements of licensure also vary by the state. The American Board of Genetic Counseling acts as the regulatory authority to provide licensure. To become a licensed Genetic Counselor, candidates must:

  • Have a master’s degree
  • Pass a written exam
  • Continue education to maintain license

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