Interested in Becoming a Genetic Counselor?
Find out the answers to the questions you may have about becoming a genetic counselor with these Frequently Asked Questions by prospective students.
Genetic counseling is a profession in demand!
Genetic counseling is a rewarding career, as evidenced by the explosive growth in genetic counselors; since 2006, the number of genetic counselors has grown by 85 percent. But there is still a need for more genetic counselors.
Genetic counseling provides the challenge of staying current in the ever-evolving world of genetics and the ability to connect with and empower patients, supporting them through an often-difficult and confusing process.
In addition to meeting and talking with patients, genetic counselors spend their time gathering more information, communicating with laboratories regarding what tests are offered and what is required to obtain a test, advocating for patients with their insurance companies to help ensure their tests are covered, and notifying patients of test results. Many genetic counselors also do research, which helps advance patient care.
For additional information about becoming a genetic counselor for your community, download the NSGC brochure in English or Spanish (translated by Jenny Morgan and Liliana Navarrete from the University of Alabama Birmingham).
Genetic Counseling Training Programs
Genetic counselors typically receive a bachelor's degree in biology, social science or a related field, and then go on to receive specialized training. Master's degrees in genetic counseling are offered by programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling (ACGC).
These specialized programs are currently offered at approximately 40 schools in the United States and Canada. Learn more about genetic counseling training programs.
To discover what occurs during a typical genetic counseling session, please view the Master Genetic Counselor Series, a grouping of specially designed digital recordings of simulated genetic counseling sessions in the specialty areas of cancer genetic counseling, cardiology genetic counseling, and prenatal genetic counseling.
Certification through the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC), demonstrates that the individual has met the standards necessary to provide competent genetic counseling. Many hospitals and clinics insist their genetic counselors be ABGC-certified. Read more about genetic counseling certification and continuing education requirements.
Additionally, some states require genetic counselors to be licensed.
Learn more about the benefits of becoming a genetic counselor.