The field of genetic counseling has been growing exponentially for decades. The number of certified genetic counselors has increased by over 100% in the last 10 years and is expected to grow another 100% in the next 10 years. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a growth rate of 29% for genetic counseling positions through 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. In fact, according to the 2020 National Society of Genetic Counselors Professional Status Survey, 87% of genetic counseling students accepted jobs prior to graduation.
Interesting in obtaining a job in this growing field? The first step is to graduate from an accredited graduate-level genetic counseling program. With a genetic counseling degree, you are eligible to apply to many genetic counseling jobs.
In order to land one of these genetic counseling positions, first you have to apply. Don’t be intimidated. Now is the time to go for it! Be sure that your application is complete, without spelling or grammatical errors, and that you stress what you could bring to THAT position. Using a boilerplate cover letter and resume for every job is a mistake that many applicants make. Tailor each application to fit THAT job description. This will hopefully lead to an interview.
Your next step is a big one…rocking your interview. But don’t forget – you also want to make sure that the position is the right one for you, so pay attention to the people, the environment, and the way they treat their employees.
To help you prepare for your next interview, we asked genetic counselors to pass on their insider advice. Check out their words of wisdom below to help you land the genetic counseling job of your dreams!
We also suggest that you read our Trailblazing Genetic Counselors blog series to learn about various career opportunities in the field. Check out the LinkedIn profiles of the genetic counselors below to read their backgrounds and follow them on Twitter. Check out our Genetic Counseling Twitter list of 800+ professionals in the field who are also active on Twitter.
Be curious about the organization’s culture, and be confident in your value and experience.Robin Schwartz
Clinical Coordinator, Adjunct Instructor & Certified Genetic Counselor at Bay Path University
Know the difference between negotiables and non-negotiables. Do not settle! I almost settled for my first job, but I’m glad I didn’t.Matt Tschirgi
Senior Medical Science Liaison at Progenity & Founder and Managing Director at Genetix Consulting
You can use your genetic counseling skills for a number of different types of work. It’s all in how you market yourself. Confidence counts, and if you are applying outside of the field, never apologize for being a genetic counselor. Don’t forget to check Glassdoor, too. Sometimes people post interview experiences.Leslie Ordal
Assistant Program Director of the Genetic Counseling Master’s Program at Boise State University & Genetic Counselor at Grey Genetics
When preparing for your interview, talk out loud to yourself at home – about yourself, interesting topics in genetics, your accomplishments. It will warm you up. If a job is not the right fit for you, you don’t want it! Interviews are like dates – not proving you’re the best, but seeing if you and the job are the right fit for each other.Brittany Gancarz
Prenatal Genetic Counselor at UConn Health
Many genetic counseling positions have no growth track, which is a critical issue for job satisfaction and professional and financial growth. Ask! Once you get the job, do not accept it without ensuring the position will pay for you to attend at least one conference per year. This is a must for professional development.Scott Weissman
Lead of Oncology and Proactive Services at Genome Medical & Genetic Counselor at Chicago Genetic Consultants
Research the position, program, and responsibilities and come prepared with ideas for how to improve and expand it.Carin Espenschied
Genetic Counselor and Medical Science Liaison at Guardant Health
Focus on why you would be a good fit for THAT job, not just A job. This shows you’ve done your homework.Andria Besser
Director of Reproductive Genetics at NYU Langone Health
Be clear on why you want that particular job because they will likely ask, but tell them why they should want you – what do you bring?Carrie Haverty
Senior Director of Product Marketing at Miroculus
It is really hard to stand out as a new graduate. Research the role, and tell them how you can build on their accomplishments. At the same time, new graduates don’t know everything, and hirers know that. Don’t get too cocky! Confidence is a fine line.Andrea Forman
Principal Genetic Counselor at St. George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Observe and ask about the culture of the work environment. If burnout and dissatisfaction seem rampant, take note. With so much job transition, retention speaks volumes, especially in the past five or so years.Erica Bednar
Cancer Genetic Counselor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Mentally review key cases you have seen (even as a student) and what they show about you as a genetic counselor and colleague. This is fodder for behavioral questions. Always have go-to stories: The time I…disagreed with my supervisor, made a mistake, had a difficult patient, etc.Alexis Carere
Clinical Genetics Analysis Specialist at London Health Sciences Centre
Be prepared. Ask others about common questions you may be asked. Know your own history well (work, studies, extracurricular activities) so that you can comfortably talk about yourself – both your positive attributes and your weaknesses where you want to improve. Don’t be afraid to talk about yourself in a positive way – you have been offered an interview for a reason. And for case questions, it’s OK not to know the answer – demonstrate that you know how to find the answer.Eliza Courtney
Genetic Counselor at Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney
Lunch is not a ‘break’ from the interview. Lunch is where the chemistry is tested between you and your potential new team. Don’t be shy and hang back, get in the conversation!Christine Riordan
Genetic Counselor at LabCorp
Be prepared with a list of questions of your own. This shows that you are interested in how they do things and that you have thought about what it would be like to work there.Kathryn Sargent
Cancer Genetic Counselor
Learn as much as you can about the people you will meet during the interview process, including their professional interests and accomplishments. Even browse a few publications. This will help you engage uniquely with your interviewers. Once you’re prepared, relax and enjoy the experience.Marjan Champine
Genetic Counseling Manager at Ancestry
Research the company or institution ahead of time. Read their website, social media sites, and ask for a list of whom you will meet on your interview ahead of time. Research each of those people, read their publications, review their social media quotes, and have at least two specific questions for each based on what you’ve learned. It will let them know that you are serious about them and this job. Discuss specifically what skills you bring to THIS position that would make you a value-add. Dress professionally, greet everyone formally (Dr., Mr., Ms.) unless they request otherwise, and arrive 10 minutes early. Send a thank you email within 24 hours, and make it specific to the job. If you really want the job, send a thank you email to each person you met, and tell them why you think you’re a great fit for the job, and vice versa.Ellen Matloff
President and CEO of My Gene Counsel
Before your interview, research the position and the people you will interview with extensively. Consider 3-4 points about yourself, your skillset, and how they are applicable to the specific job you are interviewing for. What do you want your potential employer to know about you? Practice talking about these points beforehand so you can work them into conversation. Think of examples that demonstrate your skillset and personality to add to these conversations. Dress professionally. It shows you are invested and taking the interview seriously.Danielle Bonadies
Director of Genetics at My Gene Counsel