What does a molecular genetics technologist do?
Molecular genetics technologists work in labs and study the role of genetics in medicine. Technologists analyze a patient’s DNA to research, diagnose, and treat many different diseases and disorders, such as cancers, congenital, and nervous system disorders.
A molecular genetics technologist might analyze DNA to find abnormalities that lead to developing tumors, or they may study DNA from a fetus to find out if the baby will have a disorder such as Down syndrome when they are born.
Scope of practice
Molecular genetics technologists work with pathologists and scientists to study genes to research and diagnose various diseases and disorders. Throughout their work day, molecular geneticists prepare slides for analysis, and use special equipment to study DNA. This research helps geneticists to develop new methods for treating genetic diseases and disorders.
Molecular genetic technologists can specialize in cardiovascular medicine, cytogenetics, hepatitis, HIV, immunology, and many more areas. They can also work in administrative, teaching, quality control, and technical specialist positions.
Hospitals, research universities, private labs, and private companies hire molecular genetic technologists to study genes in their labs. This role may involve exposure to hazardous chemicals, as well as long hours working on your feet. Because some labs operate 24-hours, molecular genetics technologists may be required to work evenings, weekends, and holidays.
Becoming a molecular genetics technologist
Individuals interested in molecular genetics should take advantage of science courses in high school to prepare for their future career. Experience working in a health care or laboratory environment may benefit future molecular genetic technologists as well.
Higher education requirements
To work in molecular genetics, you need to earn a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in molecular genetics. An entry-level position for a molecular genetics technologist typically only requires a bachelor’s degree, but with additional education and experience, technologists can specialize in a particular area like cytogenetics or immunology.
Depending on the state you work in, certification or licensure may be required to work as a molecular genetics technologist after completing a degree program.
Career opportunities and outlook
A molecular genetics technologist can expect a median annual salary of $52,000.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of medical and clinical lab technologists, which include molecular genetics technologists, is projected to increase faster than average. The genetics field is expected to grow for many years and the emphasis on personalized medicine will increase the demand for technologists who can perform complex genetic testing.
Advancement opportunities may be available with additional education, work experience, or certification. This often includes specializing in a particular area that the technologist has experience with such as cardiovascular medicine, cytogenetics, hepatitis, HIV, or immunology, as well as many other areas.
By the numbers
Molecular genetics technologist at Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic offers an eight-week Molecular Genetics Technology Internship in Rochester, Minnesota to prepare students for a career as a molecular genetics technologist.