Human Genetics

Human geneticists study genes to determine how hereditary diseases develop and how they react to medications. A graduate degree related to human genetics is necessary to work in the field. Continue reading to find out about education and career options in human genetics.

Inside Human Genetics

Through the study of human genetics, medical professionals and scientists develop new drugs, therapies and treatments for diseases that affect humanity. Several branches of study exist within human genetics, including clinical, biochemical and molecular. Scholars explore principles of disease, gene testing, gene therapy, genetic counseling, chromosome activity and medical genetics. Other professional options include positions as medical scientists, genetic engineers, genetic counselors, medical geneticists or biological scientists.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), critical-thinking and communication skills, an aptitude for science and the ability to work independently are necessary for this career ( Employment opportunities are available at pharmaceutical laboratories, government agencies, academic institutions and hospitals. A medical license is necessary for any geneticists who work directly with patients. Additionally, the American Board of Genetic Counseling and the American Board of Medical Genetics offer certification for professionals in this field.

If this field interests you, explore for information about degree programs, online learning and career opportunities.

Education Information

Master's and doctoral degree programs are available, as are medical programs in genetics. Students may specialize in an area of interest, such as clinical genetics or cancer genetics. Master's degree programs include studies in genomes, cell biology, gene expression, bioinformatics and complex diseases. Doctoral degree programs cover human population genetics, epidemiology, public health, inherited disease, gene mapping and ethics in genetics. Students also conduct research and write doctoral dissertations or master's theses, in addition to completing labs and clinical rotations.

Human genetics studies are available at a variety of degree levels, though a graduate degree is typically required in order to conduct scientific research in the subject. Peruse the following articles to learn about individual courses and degree programs in this field of study.

Distance Learning Options

Distance learning programs in genetics are rare, but you can pursue online courses related to biology and genetics. Below are a few online learning options to consider.

Career Options

Before starting on the path to a career in human genetics, you may benefit from learning about the dynamics of the different positions available and what they entail. The articles below represent a selection of the careers you might pursue in human genetics.

Employment Information

The BLS projected that, between 2012 and 2022, employment would increase by 13% for medical scientists, which is considered an average rate of job growth. The field of genetic counseling, however, is expected to experience a much faster-than-average employment growth of 41% during the same time period. Medical scientists earned a mean annual wage of $90,230, according to May 2013 BLS data. Genetic counselors earned an average wage of $62,800 annually.

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