Are you interested in a career that implies advising and helping people? Are you both intellectually and emotionally strong enough to deal with distressing and complex situations? If so, genetic counseling may be the path for you. In the US this field appears to be dominated by women, with 91% female employees across states, and the wages vary mainly depending on work market, experience and responsibilities. The average genetic counselor salary ranges from $49,340 to $81,642 per year.
Average Genetic Counselor Salary Info
According to official employment statistics for this occupation, dating May 2014, the annual average genetics counselor salary is nationally estimated to $69,540, with half of employees earning $67,500.
Things haven’t changed dramatically over the last year, but figures do not seem to have increased. A recent survey of 154 respondents shows that the annual average wage of a genetic counselor is $60,770 as for May 2015.
But the good news is that the annual total pay can exceed $80,000, also by comprising bonuses of a maximum of $3,091.
What Does a Genetic Counselor Do?
Genetic counseling is a medical profession which deals with evaluating and advising patients who are at risk of an inherited medical condition, such as Down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, different types of cancer, sickle-cell anemia or muscular dystrophy.
This occupation involves working in a variety of practice areas, from cancer genetics, infertility genetics, neurogenetics to cardiovascular genetics and fetal intervention.
The main task of a genetic counselor is to advice people about inherited diseases and conditions, and to help them in the process of making informed decisions that best meet their needs. But in order to perform counseling, these professionals are required to have a thorough knowledge of how genetics contribute to improving and even avoid such medical conditions, along with excellent analysis and methodical competences.
Genetic counselors work with different types of patients, from adults to children, in a variety of industries, which makes interpersonal skills a major asset. Some of the most popular clients of genetic counselors are couples trying to conceive and need this specialized support to ensure that there are not genetic mutations or birth defects that might affect their children development.
In order to make the right decisions it is crucial for genetic counselors to communicate effectively with physicians of a variety of specialties too. The result of such collaboration is a reciprocal support that would enable providing an enhanced clinical care from both parts.
The Main Tasks of a Genetic Counselor
- Analyze different types of genetic conditions, diseases and tumors;
- Provide support to patients having or developing a genetic disease, and to their parents and close relatives as well;
- Help patients understand their condition;
- Interview and observe patients in order to collect essential information and evaluate risks of developing genetic conditions;
- Conduct, evaluate and review genetic tests;
- Evaluate data related to the family medical history of the patient;
- Diagnose problems;
- Develop and prescribe treatment;
- Communicate with other members of the hospital or clinic they work in, from technicians to other professional members;
- Keep a record of clients’ specific problems, forms of treatment and reports;
- Conduct research related to genetic diseases and counseling.
If you want to become a genetic counselor you need to complete a master’s degree accredited by the American Board of Genetic Counseling.
Employers also appreciate work experience or knowledge in the following university majors:
- Social Sciences
Certifications and Licenses
In order to practice as a genetic counselor you need to be certified by the American Board of Medical Genetics or the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC).
Also, genetic counselors must be licensed in the state they wish to perform their job.
Genetics counselors usually work full time, 40 hours per week, but there might be additional hours required depending on the needs of their clients and/or employers.
How Much Does a Genetic Counselor Earn Depending on Experience?
The salary of a genetic counselor does not vary greatly depending on experience, but there are a few differences on cash compensation if you are an experienced professional as compared to an entry-level practitioner.
The average starting salary for genetic counselors is around $60K, according to a pay scale updated in May 2015, while a mid-career professional earns $62K.
Things changed for professionals having more than 10 years of experience. An experienced genetic counselor can earn $74K annually, while a senior with more than 20 years of experience has an average salary of $85K.
How Much Does a Genetic Counselor Earn Depending on Industry?
Genetic counselors work in a variety of settings, ranging from public to private healthcare institutions. Most typical work places are:
- Counseling organizations
- Companies and Enterprises
- Colleges and Universities
- Private Offices of Different Health Practicioners
Genetic counselor can also choose to perform as freelance professionals.
Here is a list with the top paying industries and wages provided by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics:
|Industry||Annual Average Salary|
|Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories||$89,060|
|Management of Companies and Enterprises||$82,570|
|Specialty (except Psychiatric and Substance Abuse) Hospitals||$70,820|
|Offices of Physicians||$69,120|
|General Medical and Surgical Hospitals||$67,900|
How Much Does a Genetic Counselor Earn Depending on Work Market?
The employment location is one of the major factors affecting how much a genetic counselor brings home in terms of money.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistic the top paying state for this occupation is Maryland, offering an annual median wage of $92,100.
|Top Paying States||Annual Average Salary|
|Top Paying Metropolitan Area||Annual Average Salary|
|Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, CA Metropolitan Division||$87,520|
|Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA Metropolitan Division||$86,500|
|New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY-NJ Metropolitan Division||$82,250|
|Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL||$80,330|
|Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL Metropolitan Division||$79,530|
|San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, CA Metropolitan Division||$70,780|
|Oakland-Fremont-Hayward, CA Metropolitan Division||$69,090|
|Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI||$68,490|
Quick Job Facts
|Genetic Average Salary as for May 2015||$60k|
|Entry-level Average Salary (0-5 years)||$60K|
|Mid-level Career Average Salary (5-10 years)||$62K|
|Experienced Average Salary (10 – 20 years)||$74K|
|Late Career Average Salary (>20 years)||$85K|
|Education Requirements||Master’s degree in Genetic Counseling|
|Certification and Licenses||Certification issued by The American Board of Genetic CounselingLicense in the State of Practice|
|Work Settings||Public and Private Healthcare FacilitiesCompanies and EnterprisesOffices of Other PractitionersFreelance|
|Best Paying State||Maryland – $92K|
|Work Hours||40 hrs/ week + additional hours|
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