Genetic Engineers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

If you are interested in becoming a genetic engineer, you should study math, chemistry, and physics in high school, along with biology. English, writing, and computer science are helpful for developing communication skills. A college degree is a must.

Postsecondary Education

A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology, genetic science, biochemistry, or a related field is required to work as a genetic engineer. Graduate degrees are required for many positions in research, management, and college teaching

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that "those interested in doing genetic and biotechnological research in the food industry need a strong background in life and physical sciences, such as cell and molecular biology, microbiology, and inorganic and organic chemistry. Undergraduate students, however, need not specialize. In fact, undergraduates who are broadly trained often have greater career flexibility."

Other Education or Training

Continuing education webinars, classes, workshops, and conference sessions are provided by the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, American Society of Human Genetics, Association of Professors of Human and Medical Genetics, Biotechnology Innovation Organization, Genetics Society of America, and the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

There are is no specific certification or licensing available for genetic engineers, but certification for related genetic science professionals is available from the American Board of Medical Genetics and Genomics. Contact the board for more information.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Any experience, such as an internship, volunteering, or a part-time job, one can obtain in genetic science will be useful.

Besides having excellent mathematical, scientific, and analytical skills, which will help them design and carry out experiments and analyze results, genetic engineers must also develop good writing and teaching techniques. They must be able to communicate their research results to colleagues through published papers, as well as write effective grant proposals. Other important traits include patience, attention to detail, organizational skills, determination, and a willingness to continue to learn throughout one’s career.