Genetic Counselor Certification and Licensing

As a genetic counselor, you may or may not need licensure – it’s a matter of geography. An increasing number of states have laws regulating the profession. The National Society of Genetic Counselors reports that, as of 2011, the following states issued licenses: California, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee, South Dakota, Utah, and Washington. Hawaii and New Jersey are in the process of enacting laws. A number of other states are also considering licensure. The NSGC regularly publishes legislative updates.

Become a Genetic Counselor

Genetic Counseling Resources…

The licensure process typically requires both education and examination. Candidates need to furnish proof that they have completed a graduate program in genetic counseling. State regulations may specify that the program must be approved by the American Board of Genetic Counseling (and if they don’t, it’s still a good idea.) The ABGC also provides a pre-licensure examination.

Even if you don’t live in a state that issues licenses, you’ll be expected to have a similar education. Employers may wish you to seek voluntary credentialing through the ABGC. After graduating from an accredited program, you may apply for Active Candidate status. You will take a four hour test that includes 200 multiple choice questions. The passing score is determined by psychometric analysis and may vary from one cycle to another. If you don’t pass the first time, you can retake. Candidates who do not pass within a specified time period will need to pursue continuing education before reattempting.
After you fulfill certification requirements, you’ll be granted Diplomate status. You will need to renew your certification every five years. Generally this is done through continuing education, but you may opt to retake the exam.