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Genetic Counselor

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What Does it Take to Be a Genetic Counselor?

Job Description: Assess individual or family risk for a variety of inherited conditions, such as genetic disorders and birth defects. Provide information to other healthcare providers or to individuals and families concerned with the risk of inherited conditions. Advise individuals and families to support informed decisionmaking and coping methods for those at risk. May help conduct research related to genetic conditions or genetic counseling.

List of Genetic Counselor Job Duties

  • Engage in research activities related to the field of medical genetics or genetic counseling.
  • Evaluate or make recommendations for standards of care or clinical operations, ensuring compliance with applicable regulations, ethics, legislation, or policies.
  • Provide counseling to patient and family members by providing information, education, or reassurance.
  • Provide genetic counseling in specified areas of clinical genetics, such as obstetrics, pediatrics, oncology and neurology.
  • Assess patients' psychological or emotional needs, such as those relating to stress, fear of test results, financial issues, and marital conflicts to make referral recommendations or assist patients in managing test outcomes.
  • Interview patients or review medical records to obtain comprehensive patient or family medical histories, and document findings.

What Skills Do You Need to Work as a Genetic Counselor?

Genetic Counselors state the following job skills are important in their day-to-day work.

Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Complex Problem Solving: Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

Social Perceptiveness: Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Types of Genetic Counselor

  • Hereditary Cancer Program Coordinator
  • Prenatal and Pediatric Genetic Counselor
  • Clinical Coordinator, Pediatric Genetics
  • Chromosomal Disorders Counselor
  • Cancer Genetics Assistant

Job Outlook for Genetic Counselors

There were about 3,100 jobs for Genetic Counselor in 2016 (in the United States). New jobs are being produced at a rate of 29% which is above the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 900 new jobs for Genetic Counselor by 2026. The BLS estimates 300 yearly job openings in this field.

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The states with the most job growth for Genetic Counselor are Utah, Arizona, and Colorado. Watch out if you plan on working in Nebraska, Idaho, or Missouri. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Salary for a Genetic Counselor

Genetic Counselors make between $52,750 and $107,450 a year.

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Genetic Counselors who work in Texas, California, or Nevada, make the highest salaries.

How much do Genetic Counselors make in each U.S. state?

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $48,800
Arizona $80,160
California $89,530
Colorado $87,290
District of Columbia $79,300
Florida $54,730
Georgia $82,370
Illinois $83,580
Indiana $74,950
Maryland $68,370
Massachusetts $83,540
Michigan $71,710
Minnesota $78,550
Missouri $72,780
Nevada $95,830
New Jersey $85,420
New York $86,810
North Carolina $71,600
Ohio $77,110
Oregon $80,870
Pennsylvania $73,410
South Carolina $81,140
Tennessee $75,680
Texas $92,960
Utah $85,330
Washington $84,450
Wisconsin $82,070

What Tools do Genetic Counselors Use?

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Genetic Counselors:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Web browser software
  • Microsoft Access
  • Database software
  • FileMaker Pro

Becoming a Genetic Counselor

Learn what Genetic Counselor education requirements there are.

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How many years of work experience do I need?

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Who Employs Genetic Counselors?

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The table below shows some of the most common industries where those employed in this career field work.

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You May Also Be Interested In…

Those interested in being a Genetic Counselor may also be interested in:

References:

Image Credit: Staff Sgt. Katie Spencer via Public domain

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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