Genetic counselors are employed by private and public hospitals, health maintenance organizations (HMOs), diagnostic laboratories, university medical centers, government agencies, and physicians in private practice. They also work for biotech companies that develop, sell, and perform genetic tests, in research, and in education as teachers or advisers. Some work in their own private practices, independent of a physician. According to a 2019 survey from the National Society of Genetic Counselors, 78 percent of genetic counselors work for one of four employer types: university medical centers, diagnostic laboratories (commercial, non-academic), or public or private hospitals/medical facilities.
Genetic counselors just starting their career may find career guidance and job leads from contacts made during their graduate program. Their graduate school should have a career and placement center that can help in arranging job interviews. In addition, contacts made during graduate work in the clinical field (a requirement for all genetic counseling programs) will also be useful when applying for jobs.
Genetic counselors can advance by assuming teaching and administrative responsibilities. Some consultants open their own genetic counseling practices. Research opportunities are available for individuals who earn a doctoral degree. As scientists and doctors learn to use the information provided by the mapping of the human genome, even more opportunities will become available.
Talk to genetic counselors about their careers. The National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) offers a database of counselors at http://www.nsgc.org/FindaGeneticCounselor.
Read the Journal of Genetic Counseling (https://www.nsgc.org/page/journalofgeneticcounseling) and GENETICS (https://www.genetics.org) to learn more about the field.
Join the NSGC and other professional associations to access training and networking resources, industry publications, and employment opportunities.
The NSGC offers a Mentor Program that will help mentees build their professional networks, get career advice, and learn about new specialties. Contact the society for more information.