Genetic engineers work for a variety of employers, including biotechnology firms, biopharmaceutical companies, research centers, government agencies, colleges, universities, medical centers, and agricultural stations and farms. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Institutes of Health, and other government agencies have laboratories that employ genetic engineers.
There are many ways to enter the field of genetic engineering. As early as high school, opportunities exist for paid and unpaid internships at a number of science laboratories. Job seekers can get leads from their professors or fellow students. You could join a team of researchers as a laboratory aide or technician.
Federal agencies often come to college campuses to recruit graduates. If you are interested in a job with the federal government, visit https://www.usajobs.gov for more information, or visit the Web sites of specific agencies such as the National Human Genome Research Institute, National Cancer Institute, Department of Energy, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Office of Genomics & Precision Public Health.
If you would like to work at a college or university after completing an advanced degree, you may wish to continue your education through a postdoctoral fellowship, assisting a prominent scientist with research. Joining a professional organization can also provide you with the network to find open positions. Colleges and universities advertise open positions in professional journals and in the Chronicle of Higher Education (https://chroniclevitae.com/job_search), which is available at public libraries. You should also contact the human resources departments of agricultural, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology companies to learn more about employment opportunities. Finally, check out employment sites such as https://www.indeed.com/q-Genetics-jobs.html.
At colleges and universities, beginning teachers and researchers are hired at the assistant professor level. With additional years of experience and an impressive level of published research and teaching, they are promoted to associate professor and then to full professor. Many times, individuals go through the process to obtain tenure. Similar years of experience lead to promotion in private industry and government agencies. Promotion usually involves an increase in salary as well as more job duties, managerial responsibilities, and greater work prominence.
Tips for Entry
To learn more about the field, read industry publications, such as:
- GENETICS (http://www.genetics.org)
- Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering (https://www.bmes.org/content.asp?contentid=654)
- Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News (http://www.genengnews.com)
Use social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to stay up to date on industry developments and learn about job openings.
Visit the following Web sites for job listings:
Visit https://www.genome.gov/11510375/us-government-genetics-agencies-online for a list of federal government genetics agencies.
Attend industry conferences and other events to network and to interview for jobs.