Genetic scientists work for a variety of employers, including biotechnology firms, research centers, government agencies, and agricultural stations and farms. Government laboratories that employ genetic scientists include the USDA, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Institutes of Health, and several others. Genetic scientists are also needed by agricultural colleges seeking practical applications of genetics for livestock, poultry, or crops. Genetic scientists working in this setting divide their time between teaching and research programs. Most of these jobs are in college and university departments of biology, botany, zoology, or microbiology.
Because this career is so broad and has many varied fields within it, methods of entry also vary, depending on the specialty area you choose. As early as high school, opportunities exist for paid and unpaid internships at a number of science laboratories. Job seekers can get leads from their professors or fellow students. You could join a team of researchers as a laboratory aide or technician.
If you are interested in a job with the federal government, visit http://www.usajobs.gov for more information. Federal agencies also come to college campuses to recruit graduates. You can look up federal job openings at https://www.usajobs.gov, where you can also create a profile, upload your resume, and apply for jobs.
If you would like to work at a college or university after completing an advanced degree, you may wish to continue your education through a postdoctoral fellowship, assisting a prominent scientist with research. Joining a professional organization, such as the American Society of Human Genetics, the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics, or the National Society of Genetic Counselors can also provide you with the network to find open positions. Colleges and universities advertise open positions in professional journals and in the Chronicle of Higher Education (http://chronicle.com), available at public libraries. You should also consult pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies’ departments of human resources for employment opportunities in those industries. Finally, check out employment sites such as LinkedIn.com.
At colleges and universities, beginning teachers and researchers are hired at the assistant professor level. With additional years of experience and an impressive level of published research and teaching, they are promoted to associate professor and then to full professor. Similar years of experience lead to promotion in private industry and government agencies. Promotion usually involves an increase in salary as well as more job duties, managerial responsibilities, and greater work prominence.
Tips for Entry
To learn more about the field, read industry publications, such as:
- GENETICS (http://www.genetics.org)
- Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering (https://www.bmes.org/content.asp?contentid=654)
- Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News (http://www.genengnews.com)
Visit the following Web sites for job listings:
Visit http://www.bio-link.org/home2/programs for a list of biotechnology employers by state.
Join professional associations to access training and networking resources, industry publications, and employment opportunities.
Check out mentoring and professional opportunities that the Genetics Society of America offers to its members. Visit https://genetics-gsa.org/career-development for more information.