Career Information

How to become a Genetic Counselor

Most genetic counselors have an undergraduate degree in biology, genetics, nursing, psychology, public health or social work and attend a training program that grants them a master’s degree in Genetic Counseling. After receiving their master’s degree, most genetic counselors attempt to become board-certified. Requirements for certification include documentation of the following: a graduate degree in genetic counseling, clinical experience in an American Board of Genetic Counseling-approved training site or sites, and successful completion of the certification examination.

Gaining Experience

Students interested in the field of Genetic Counseling should make an effort to gain some experience through science coursework, lab experience, counseling experience (through a crisis hotline, Planned Parenthood, peer counseling, etc), and possibly by shadowing a genetic counselor.

Training Programs

Currently, numerous training programs offer master's degrees in genetic counseling in the United States. Programs are also offered in Canada, Australia, England and South Africa. Coursework typically includes clinical genetics, population genetics, cytogenetics, and molecular genetics coupled with psychosocial theory, ethics and counseling techniques. Clinical placement in ABGC-approved medical genetics centers is an integral part of the degree requirements. Additional programs accept nurses seeking post-graduate degrees with specialty training in genetics. ( A list of the training programs can be found at

Career Opportunities

The genetic counseling profession is rapidly expanding and diversifying. Heightened public awareness, coupled with scientific advances in adult disorders and reproductive technologies, have increased the demand for genetic counselors in clinical, teaching, administrative, commercial, private practice and consulting environments. This trend is expected to continue well into the 21st century and beyond. (

Useful links

If you are interested the field of genetic counseling and live near one of our programs, contact our genetic counselors.


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Text for this site provided by Erin Houghton, MS, CGC Genetic Counselor, Ferre Institute, Inc