Should I apply?

You're taking that first step. You've heard about genetic counseling, maybe in the news, maybe from a teacher or family member who has gone in for testing. And you're thinking to yourself "Maybe this is the career for me!"

And rightfully so! Genetic counselors have such a dynamic career in a field that is constantly changing as technological improvements are made. It is such an exciting time to be involved in the world of genetic counseling, but first it's important to know...

What is genetic counseling?

There are many resources available that help explain genetic counseling. The website for the National Society of Genetic Counselors provides a very comprehensive definition:

"Genetic counseling is the process of helping people understand and adapt to the medical, psychological and familial implications of genetic contributions to disease. This process integrates:

  • Interpretation of family and medical histories to assess the chance of disease occurrence or recurrence.
  • Education about inheritance, testing, management, prevention, resources and research.
  • Counseling to promote informed choices and adaptation to the risk or condition." 
    National Society of Genetic Counselors, 2005

This video provides an easy to understand view of the profession and breaks down the roles of a genetic counselor. 

What is a Genetic Counselor?

Genetic counselors (GCs) help provide information to patients and families with genetic conditions and determine any risk to other family members or future generations. They assist patients through the decision-making process of genetic testing, supporting their choices.

A genetic counselor wears many different hats and can take on a variety of different roles. Below are just a few examples of what genetic counselors can be responsible for.

  • Liaison between physicians and patients
  • Detectives: analyzing pedigrees, searching for causative mutations
  • Advocates: provide supports, fight for testing coverage
  • Working in a variety of settings: research, clinical, laboratory
  • Providing individualized care and support to patients
  • Educators: public, patients, other health care professionals
Photo by olm26250/iStock / Getty Images

Another perspective

"Genetic Counseling is a unique career that combines expertise in genetics with the ability to clearly and compassionately discuss genetic health issues with patients"
Sarah Lawrence College Class of 2016


Some clinical specialties include:

  • Prenatal
  • Pediatric
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular
  • Neurogenetics
  • Assisted Reproductive Technologies
  • Metabolic Disorders

Just to name a few!

Not just clinical!

  • Public Health
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Policy development
  • Research
  • Genetics Laboratories

And many more!