Example Steps to Becoming a Research Geneticist

Become a Geneticist

Genetics Resources…

A career in human genetics will take advanced study, but there is more than one pathway. If you’re not interested in going to medical school or becoming an MD, you can opt for a PhD. The following guide is designed to help you get started on this exciting career pathway.

  1. Take a rigorous high school curriculum. It’s not all about math and science. As a researcher, you’ll be doing a fair amount of writing. Journal articles will help build your career, so focus on composition skills and learn to use a style guide.

  2. Participate in science competitions. You may also want to look into summer internships. Opportunities are available through the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute and the Human Genome Research Institute, among others.

  3. Research both undergraduate and graduate programs. You’ll want to have some idea of what programs you’ll be applying for as a graduate, so you can have the prerequisites down. You’ll probably want to select an undergraduate program in genetics, biology, or chemistry. Some PhD programs will accept any of the three, but others will have a preference.

  4. As you progress through your undergraduate studies, give thought to what area you want to specialize in. Continue to seek out summer internship opportunities.

  5. You may find a position as a research associate with just a BS. To carry out independent research, though, you’ll need more education. Score well on admission tests and apply to graduate programs.

  6. Continue to put forth a strong academic performance in graduate school. If you want to work in applied human genetics, look into medical genetics fellowships. Check out the American Board of Medical Genetics to find out what’s currently available.

  7. Complete your fellowship and apply for certification.

  8. You may find out about career opportunities through your professional contacts. You can also search for jobs online through the American Board of Medical Genetics. Employers typically ask for a curriculum vitae and letter of interest. Some doctoral level geneticists carry out independent research, using grants to fund themselves.

Personality Traits: An analytical mind is a must as is the ability to be an independent problem solver. Employers also ask for written and oral communication skills