Molecular genetics is the field of science that studies genes and genetic mutations. This research is used to help prevent and cure diseases and State University of New York Fredonia also states that it is used to breed new crops and wildlife. In addition, an understanding of this discipline helps in providing counseling to families who may have children with genetic defects. Graduates with a master’s degree in molecular genetics can pursue a wide range of career choices.
Molecular geneticists identify specific genes associated with certain diseases, disorders and functions. They also try to determine if environmental factors play a role in the development of congenital diseases. The median annual salary of molecular geneticists is $65,080, according to the National Human Genome Research Institute. While a bachelor’s degree is the minimum educational requirement, a master’s degree is advantageous, and the NHGRI states that employment opportunities are best for those with a Ph.D. or M.D. in molecular biology.
Genetic disorders can cause physical, intellectual, emotional or behavior problems, in addition to causing such conditions as autism. Genetic counselors identify genetic disorders and help clients, such as parents, to understand and manage genetic conditions in their children. Genetic counselors may specialize in prenatal counseling, cancer counseling or genetics counseling. While many genetics counselors have a master’s degree in genetic counseling, SUNY Fredonia reports that this is also a good career choice for those with a master’s in molecular genetics. According to a National Society of Genetic Counselors 2010 Executive Survey, these professionals earned a median annual salary of $63,700.
Molecular Genetics Technologists
Molecular genetics technologists work in laboratory environments where they analyze DNA or RNA to establish a link between genetics and an individual’s health. Through molecular genetics testing, they can uncover congenital diseases and assess the familial risk of cancer. They can also detect neurological disorders and diagnose oncology and prenatal disorders and risks. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the salary for molecular genetics technologists was $58,640 in May 2012. In addition, Mayo Clinic states that students may either obtain a bachelor’s degree in diagnostic genetics or a master’s degree in molecular pathology before being certified in molecular biology.
Molecular Genetics Managers
In addition to research and counseling positions, some students may parlay their degree into a management role. Molecular genetics managers oversee the work of molecular genetics scientists, technologists and other lab personnel. They determine the technical goals of research and develop plans, in addition to managing budgets and establishing administrative procedures and standards. These managers also monitor the progress of projects and review research, testing and reports. Molecular genetics managers may have either a bachelor’s or a master’s degree. According to May 2012 BLS salary data, they earned an annual mean wage of $130,400.
- State University of New York Fredonia: Careers in Molecular Genetics
- Genome.gov: Molecular Geneticist
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: You’re a What? Genetics Counselor
- National Society of Genetic Counselors: 2010 Professional Status Survey Executive Summary
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: May 2012 National Occupation Employment and Wage Estimates
- Mayo School of Health Sciences: Molecular Genetics Technology
- Mayo School of Health Sciences: Molecular Genetics Internships
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: National Sciences Managers
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