Genetic genealogists are employed by for-profit companies that provide DNA analysis services to customers. Major companies include 23andMe, AncestryDNA, FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage DNA, Sequencing.com, and HomeDNA. Genetic genealogists also work for police departments and other law enforcement agencies, government agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, and private forensic science consulting firms. Others work as researchers and professors at colleges and universities.
Many genetic genealogists break into this field after obtaining extensive experience in traditional genealogy. They take classes in genetic genealogy, genetics, and forensic science that are offered by professional associations, for-profit education companies, and colleges and universities to build their skills. They gradually take on more and more genetic genealogy–related assignments until they are qualified to work in the field full time.
Genetic genealogists can learn about job openings via law enforcement or genealogy career fairs and related events, via their personal and professional networks, and by contacting potential employers directly about potential job openings.
Genetic genealogists can advance by receiving higher pay and/or managerial responsibilities; by moving from a smaller company or organization to a larger one; and by starting their own consulting firms. Others choose to become college professors. Some launch blogs or write books about the field.
Genetic genealogists can also transition to related careers such as forensic technician, forensic scientist, private investigator, military repatriation expert, heir searcher, and citizenship reclamation specialist.
Tips for Entry
Read the Journal of Genetic Genealogy (https://jogg.info), Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly (https://www.apgen.org/cpages/apgq), and the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (https://www.ngsgenealogy.org/ngsq) to learn more about genetic genealogy and the general field of genealogy.
Talk to genealogists about their careers. The APG has a member database (http://www.apgen.org/directory) that you can use to find potential interview candidates. The database includes a DNA specialist category.
A strong background in English, speech, chemistry, computer science, genetics, and history is helpful in this field; take classes in these areas.