Who are Genetic Counselors?
Genetic counselors are health professionals with specialized graduate degrees and experience in the areas of medical genetics and counseling. Most enter the field from a variety of disciplines, including biology, genetics, nursing, psychology, public health, and social work.
For information on genetic counselors and genetic counselng training programs, please download this helpful brochure from the Association of Genetic Counseling Program Directors: Who are Genetic Counselors?
Practicing genetic counselors should feel free to use any of this material at career fairs or during school or community presentations to share their roles and expertise with others. Those considering a career in genetic counseling will also find valuable information here to guide them on their journey to a degree and career in genetic counseling. For additional information, download the NSGC brochure, Become a Genetic Counselor.
The Role of the Genetic Counselor
Genetic counselors provide a critical service to individuals and families considering undergoing genetic testing by helping them identify their risks for certain disorders, investigate family health history, interpret information and determine if testing is needed.
As society’s knowledge of genetics continues to expand, genetic counselors are working in nearly all areas of healthcare. Specialty areas where genetic counselors are working with patients and physicians include:
- Assisted Reproductive Technologies/Infertility
- Cardiovascular Genetics
- Familial Cancer Risk Counseling
- Metabolism / Lysosomal Storage Diseases
- Pediatric Counseling
- Personalized Medicine
- Prenatal Counseling/Ultrasound Anomalies
- Psychiatric Disorders
- Fetal Intervention & Therapy
As genetics has expanded into other areas of healthcare, genetic counselors have moved into exciting new roles. The skills genetic counselors receive in their training are opening doors to careers in:
- Diagnostic laboratories
- Educational and medical websites
- Pharmaceutical industry
- Public Health
- Healthcare consulting
- Marketing/product development
- Policy development/advocacy
- The possibilities are endless and continue to expand!
The skills of genetic counselors will continue to open doors to new and exciting possibilities as genetic counselors are uniquely positioned To read more about the unique skill set of genetic counselors and how these skills support a variety of roles, please download the NSGC report, Core Skills of Genetic Counselors.
Genetic Counseling Training
Are you interested in applying for a genetic counseling training program? There are 32 colleges and universities across the United States and Canada with master's degree programs in genetic counseling. The links below will provide you with additional information:
For a list of programs, including contact information for each program, please visit the Genetic Counseling Training Program Directory.
Certification and Continuing Education Requirements
Certification and continuing education for genetic counselors is overseen by the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC). In addition, states licensing genetic counselors may have additional continuing education requirements for practicing genetic counselors to maintain licensure. The ABGC website has specific information regarding certification and continuing education.
Search for Genetic Counseling Jobs
NSGC members are eligible to use the Job Connection job search tool. Employers seeking to hire genetic counselors are encouraged to list open positions on the Job Connection for exclusive access to the largest, targeted audience of qualified genetic counselors.