Genetic counselors are skilled and trained professionals who closely analyze the genetic information of patients and then help them make the best decision. It often happens that parents come to a genetic counselor before deciding to have a child, to determine whether the future child has any risk of inheriting a genetic disorder from one of the parents.
The genetic counselor can determine the offspring’s likelihood to develop severe diseases like breast cancer or heart disease, depending on the genetic information. It often happens that these specialists work closely with other professionals from the industry, such as nurses, doctors, physicians as well as geneticists, The median yearly salary of a genetic counselor in the United States of America is of $67,000, although in some cases these specialists can make as much as $78,000 a year.
Pay Scale In Different Parts Of The United States of America
A genetic counselor can receive different salaries across the United States of America, and one of the highest paying states is the state of Nevada, with a median yearly wage of around $78,000 a year. The second highest paying state for genetic counselors is the state of New Jersey, where these professionals make around $71,000 a year, followed by the state of Washington with around $70,000 a year. At the opposite end, there is the state of Iowa where genetic counselors tend to be paid median yearly wages that are considerably lower than the national average, as they usually get around $25,000 a year. Even so, the yearly salary depends a lot on the living costs, the expertise and the level of training of these professionals.
Genetic Counselor Job Description
As described above, the primary duty and responsibility of genetic counselors is to assess the genetic risks based on the genetic information of families and patients, and then to determine whether the child is likely to inherit a genetic condition. Becoming a genetic counselor typically takes six or more years of college training, and these professionals work closely with families and other health care providers.
Genetic counselors can nowadays be found in a variety of different work settings, from university medical centers and diagnostic laboratories to private medical clinics as well as state owned hospitals. These professionals work with a lot of people, therefore they must possess good interpersonal and communication skills, and they must also be very sociable.
The duties and responsibilities of genetic counselors are many, from gathering the family health history regarding surgeries, family illnesses and previous health problems to explaining the mechanism of action of genetic disorders, recommending diagnostic tests before and during the pregnancy as well as exploring the treatment options to the family. At the same time, the genetic counselor also discusses all the risk factors that the family exposes the child to when deciding to conceive, and the counselor also analyzes and explain the results of the genetic tests. These professionals also offer counseling services for those who experience a great degree of emotional stress.
There are several reasons why families and couples should consider visiting a genetic counselor nowadays. For instance, if you have suffered repeated miscarriages or stillbirths or if you have infertility problems, then a genetic counselor can come in handy. Also, it is highly recommended to consult a genetic counselor if you are aged 35 or older and you plan to conceive, if you already have one or more children who suffer from a genetic condition or if you have a family health history of inherited medical disorders and problems.
How To Become A Genetic Counselor?
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The first step towards becoming a genetic counselor is to complete an undergraduate degree in science, in order to be able to enroll in a specialized graduate degree program for genetics counseling. After that, it is highly recommended to get a deeper insight into subjects like genetics, biology, statistics, chemistry as well as psychology, and to participate in different internships in genetics counseling.
The second step is to apply and to get admitted to a graduate degree program in genetics counseling. Different schools and universities have different requirements, but it often happens that it is important to submit your undergraduate transcripts along with the scores from the graduate record examinations in order to have your application approved.
Once you have finished the graduate degree program and you have received a Bachelor’s Degree in Genetics, it is important to consider higher education and to apply for a Master’s Degree program in genetics counseling. This is a more advanced training program where you will study birth defects, genetic screening, molecular genetics, research methods as well as different counseling techniques that you should use with people. During the Master’s Degree training program, you will also get some practical, hands-on experience, including different clinical rotations.
Genetic Counselor Certification
Most of the states in the United States of America require their genetic counselors to be licensed or certified in order to work in the state where they reside. That being said, it is very important for all genetic counselors to complete the certification requirements, which are set by the American Board of Genetic Counseling. If it turns out that you do meet all the eligibility requirements, then you can sit for the examination and be awarded the Certified Genetics Counselor credential. The exam will test your skills and overall knowledge in fields like risk assessment, counseling techniques, diagnosis, testing options as well as ethics in genetics testing. The certification is valid for a period of five years, and after that you will need to sit for a recertification test.
Genetic Counselor Salary In Canada, Australia And The United Kingdom
A genetic counselor who works in Australia gets a median yearly salary of around Au$90,000, while one from Canada should expect to earn around Ca$74,000. In addition to this, a genetic counselor who works in the United Kingdom gets a median yearly wage that varies between 36,000 and 38,000 pounds.
Verdict On Genetic Counselor Salary
To conclude, working as a genetic counselor is certainly very rewarding for most of the professionals who choose to activate in this field of activity.