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Career Profile: Genetic Counselors

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.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 2,400 people employed as genetic counselors in the United States. The median annual salary is $85,700. Entry level employees earn approximately $66,930 per year and senior employees earn approximately $126,350 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Interpret laboratory results and communicate findings to patients or physicians.
  • Discuss testing options and the associated risks, benefits and limitations with patients and families to assist them in making informed decisions.
  • Analyze genetic information to identify patients or families at risk for specific disorders or syndromes.
  • Provide counseling to patient and family members by providing information, education, or reassurance.
  • Write detailed consultation reports to provide information on complex genetic concepts to patients or referring physicians.
  • Provide genetic counseling in specified areas of clinical genetics, such as obstetrics, pediatrics, oncology and neurology.
  • Determine or coordinate treatment plans by requesting laboratory services, reviewing genetics or counseling literature, and considering histories or diagnostic data.
  • Refer patients to specialists or community resources.
  • Design and conduct genetics training programs for physicians, graduate students, other health professions or the general community.
  • Evaluate or make recommendations for standards of care or clinical operations, ensuring compliance with applicable regulations, ethics, legislation, or policies.
  • Engage in research activities related to the field of medical genetics or genetic counseling.
  • Collect for, or share with, research projects patient data on specific genetic disorders or syndromes.
  • Identify funding sources and write grant proposals for eligible programs or services.
  • Interview patients or review medical records to obtain comprehensive patient or family medical histories, and document findings.
  • 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.
  • Read current literature, talk with colleagues, or participate in professional organizations or conferences to keep abreast of developments in genetics.
  • Prepare or provide genetics-related educational materials to patients or medical personnel.
  • Explain diagnostic procedures such as chorionic villus sampling (CVS), ultrasound, fetal blood sampling, and amniocentesis.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
2,400
Annual Openings:
300
Increase in Openings by 2030:
26%
Annual Salary Range:
$66,930 - $126,350
Education Requirements:
Master's degree or higher