Genetic Counselor Career Plan

Genetic counselors are multi-faceted. They have genetic knowledge and also skills in talking people through difficult issues. Are you interested in becoming one? You’ll need a master’s degree to practice, but you can start developing your skills as early as high school. Here are some tips and resources to get you started.

Become a Genetic Counselor

Genetic Counseling Resources…

  1. Make sure you’re ready for rigorous college-level science courses. Consider honors or AP biology. Also develop your communicative abilities. You can get experience helping people through challenges by volunteering as a peer counselor.

  2. Do some career exploration. The Area Health Education Center is a potential resource.

  3. Research undergraduate programs. Select a major that you’re passionate about. The American Board of Medical Counseling notes that a majority of prospective genetic counselors hold bachelor’s degrees in psychology, health, or medical sciences. Request information from schools that offer undergraduate psychology degrees.

  4. If you want to explore genetics in-depth at the undergraduate level, you may want to consider molecular biology.

    You could also opt for a social sciences major. Look ahead to see the prerequisites of master’s programs you are considering. Typical prerequisites include biology, chemistry, psychology, and statistics.

  5. Seek out professional experiences. You’ll find a lot of internships related to the genetic counseling profession listed on (a site maintained by Rochester Institute of Technology).

  6. Research master’s programs and fill out applications.

  7. Seek out professional experiences while in grad school. You may want to consider student membership in the National Society of Genetic Counselors. There’s a mentorship program available. You will also have access to Listservs that you can use to increase your knowledge base, communicate with professionals, and (later) find a job.

  8. Complete your program and fulfill licensing requirements, if applicable.

  9. It’s time for your first position as a genetic counselor. You’ll find online career resources on the NSGC site. The NSGC recommends that you attend regional and national meetings and do some networking.

Personality Traits: Genetic counselors should have scientific aptitude and empathy.