A major in genetics can lead to careers in fields as diverse as agriculture, criminology, and communication. Below is a list, by no means comprehensive, of careers geneticists pursue. In order to view more career opportunities in this field
Geneticists conduct research in various fields of science, ranging from agriculture to wildlife biology. The list below describes some areas of research, listed in alphabetical order, in these fields.
Determine the genetic and physiological basis for certain plant traits, for example, vitamin content
Use gene modification techniques to develop improved crop varieties such as drought-tolerant maize
Study genes involved in development, such as those that regulate flowering
Conserve plant genetic diversity, for example, by maintaining germ banks
Sequence plant genomes
Study the evolution of crop plants
Determine genetic relationships among plant species for taxonomic classification purposes
Study plant migration patterns
Education: The minimum educational requirement to be hired as a plant geneticist is a bachelor’s degree in biology, genetics, agriculture, or a closely related field. Since genetics draws heavily on mathematics, statistics, and biochemistry, a solid foundation in these subjects is also important
A master’s and PhD degree will strongly increase opportunities to conduct independent research.
Places of employment: Plant geneticists can find work in federal, state, or local government laboratories; agricultural experiment stations; botanical gardens, arboretums, national parks; university laboratories; or private agricultural companies.
Identify and understand the functions of genes involved in growth, reproduction, and behavior
Develop new breeding methods and parentage verification methods
Breed animals with economically advantageous traits such as disease resistance or increased milk production
Identify gene targets for drug development
Determine the molecular mechanisms underlying diseases
Identify the origin of exotic species
Analyze genome sequences using bioinformatics tools
Education and Places of employment: A certificate or an associate’s degree in medical or veterinary technology is the minimum qualification to work as a technician in an animal genetics lab. A bachelor’s degree in science (for example, genetics, biology, biochemistry, or poultry science) followed by a master’s degree in an area of specialization is likely to increase job prospec
Places of employment: Animal geneticists can find work in animal biotechnology companies, breeding companies, livestock genetics industries, zoos, non-profit organizations involved in the conservation of endangered species, hatcheries, universities, and the federal government.
Use DNA fingerprinting to identify parts of endangered species or crime victims
Develop more sensitive methods that will permit DNA analysis of minute crime-scene samples
Identify biomarkers that will help determine the age of biological samples
Develop molecular tools to diagnose genetic diseases
Study patterns of genetic variation in human populations, the causes of these variations, and how they influence disease susceptibility
Determine the genetic basis of diseases like lupus, autism, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes
Study gene-gene and gene-environmental interactions (epigenetics) in multifactorial diseases
Study chromosomal abnormalities
Study gene expression in early human development
Study the influence of genes on behavior (Behavioral genetics)
Determine methods to deliver genes to target cells (Gene therapy)
Education: A strong foundation in mathematics and science is good preparation for research in human genetics. Master’s and PhD degrees increase opportunities for research. An MD-PhD degree, which provides training in both clinical and basic science, increases opportunities to conduct translational research.
Places of employment: These include medical centers, research institutes, hospitals, and biotech companies.