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Genetic Counselor

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What is 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.

Life As a Genetic Counselor: What Do They Do?

  • Discuss testing options and the associated risks, benefits and limitations with patients and families to assist them in making informed decisions.
  • Collect for, or share with, research projects patient data on specific genetic disorders or syndromes.
  • Explain diagnostic procedures such as chorionic villus sampling (CVS), ultrasound, fetal blood sampling, and amniocentesis.
  • Interpret laboratory results and communicate findings to patients or physicians.
  • 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.
  • Provide patients with information about the inheritance of conditions such as cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and various forms of cancer.

Genetic Counselor Skills

These are the skills Genetic Counselors say are the most useful in their careers:

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.

Other Genetic Counselor Job Titles

  • Prenatal Genetic Counselor
  • Senior Genetic Counselor
  • Staff Genetic Counselor
  • Clinical Coordinator, Pediatric Genetics
  • Cancer Program Consultant

Genetic Counselor Job Outlook

In the United States, there were 3,100 jobs for Genetic Counselor in 2016. 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.

Forecasted Number of Jobs for Genetic Counselors in U.S.

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.

Do Genetic Counselors Make A Lot Of Money?

The typical yearly salary for Genetic Counselors is somewhere between $52,750 and $107,450.

Salary Ranges for Genetic Counselors

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

Below is a list of the median annual salaries for Genetic Counselors in different U.S. states.

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 & Technology do Genetic Counselors Use?

Below is a list of the types of tools and technologies that Genetic Counselors may use on a daily basis:

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

How to Become a Genetic Counselor

Education needed to be a Genetic Counselor:

Genetic Counselor Degree Level

How Long Does it Take to Become a Genetic Counselor?

Genetic Counselor Work Experience

Who Employs Genetic Counselors?

Genetic Counselor Sectors

The table below shows the approximate number of Genetic Counselors employed by various industries.

Genetic Counselor Industries

Similar Careers

Those thinking about becoming a Genetic Counselor might also be interested in the following careers:


Image Credit: Staff Sgt. Katie Spencer via Public domain

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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