How to Become a Genetic Counselor

Here are the requirements, training, skills, and education needed to become a genetic counselor.

Genetic counseling is an essential field of healthcare that seeks to trace genetic conditions to determine if clients or their families are likely to experience these conditions.

This will be an exciting read for persons fascinated by healthcare careers that trace patient histories to determine the probability of the reoccurrence of the disease.

Steps to Becoming a Genetic Counselor

As shown by the topic, the focus is to guide you on ways to achieve your objective of becoming a genetic counselor.

We’ve provided this information in an easy-to-implement strategy to ensure you don’t struggle. Like every other field, you must be prepared to overcome any challenges that might come up.

  • What’s Genetic Counseling about?

While the name gives an idea of what this profession is about, it hardly communicates effectively to the newbie. With genetic counseling, the focus is on how historical genetic conditions might impact you or members of your family.

Genetic counselors trace your genetic history by collecting good personal and family health history.

Having carefully traced such details, assessment results determine whether the genetic tests will be recommended for you.

Before anything else, there must be good reasons why people would go for any kind of testing.

Genetic counseling is necessary when caring for children, planning for pregnancy, during pregnancy and when managing your health.

  • What Genetic Counselors Do

Still, in the introductory part of our discussion, it’s necessary to include information on the responsibilities of genetic counselors.

These healthcare professionals help maintain careful client records and interview patients to gain an understanding of medical and family history.

Genetic counselors also participate in research, compiling a patient’s genetic information, translating medical terminology, and writing detailed reports on the findings of genetic tests.

What more? Genetic counselors also discuss patients about genetic test results.

There are lots of other responsibilities handled by genetic counselors you’ll need to research.

As a genetic counselor, you work in various settings, including private practice, academic & research institutes, nursing homes, medical laboratories, physician offices, and psychiatric clinics.

More places you can work as a genetic counselor include mental health facilities, social service centers, hospitals & healthcare centers.

Let’s shift our focus back to the main topic: becoming a genetic counselor.

Genetic Counselor Education Requirements & Training

You need to take five steps to achieve your objective of becoming a genetic counselor.

These include completing high school, earning a bachelor’s degree, getting an advanced degree (master’s), and sitting for the board certification tests.

What more? Depending on your state’s requirements, you may have to apply for licensure. Having stated the key points, let’s discuss each to further guide you on what needs to be done.

So how do you become a genetic counselor? Here are the steps

i. Completion of High School

This is the starting point for anyone aspiring to become a genetic counselor. You’ll do well to focus on subjects like biology, social sciences, chemistry, and math.

These are prerequisites for the course (genetic counseling) you intend to apply to.

Advanced placement classes tend to impact college applications and earn you college credits positively. Based on this reality, you might want to go for such as it makes your application more likely to get considered.

Having graduated and earned a GED, you’re ready to apply to your preferred field of study. There is a lot of confusion about what program or significance to go for.

For the most part, many people go for just any significant they feel more comfortable with. More on this is discussed in the next section.

ii. Earning a Bachelor’s Degree

We mentioned the need to apply to your bachelor’s degree program.

While true, you should go for common majors like counseling, psychology, health sciences, or biochemistry. The bachelor’s program usually lasts for four years and must be regionally accredited.

The importance of going for a regionally accredited program is seen when going for an advanced degree. Also, consider the need to complete prerequisite coursework that will be part of your master’s program requirement.

Have at least a B or higher in courses like statistics, chemistry, molecular biology, organic chemistry, genetics, and psychology.

iii. Getting an Advanced Degree

With your bachelor’s degree completed, you’ll need to proceed to gain admission into a master’s program. One of the ways to do so is by registering with a National Matching Service (NMS).

This resource enables you to find the right program.

You’ll have to apply for a master’s degree in genetic counseling to achieve your objective. The full-time study will take around two years to complete.

There are other study options as well to choose from. Ensuring the advanced degree program you attend is fully accredited is essential.

The Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling (ACGC) is the accreditation body. This is necessary for obtaining the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC) certification.

iv. Sitting for Board Certification Test

As stated in the point above, certification for genetic counselors is offered by the ABGC.

Graduating from an ACGC-accredited program allows you to sit for this exam. Tests are conducted twice a year and cover critical topics like testing options and gathering initial client information.

More topics include family history, evaluating medical history, risk assessment, research, communication, resources, ethics, and counseling.

Test results are revealed upon completion of the test. The title Certified Genetic Counselor identifies persons who have passed the test.

v. Applying for Licensure

Licensure is the last hurdle you’ll have to cross to become a full-fledged genetic counselor. While that is true, not all states have licensure requirements.

This will be good news for persons within areas without such requirements.

Lately, more states have added licensing requirements, so you’ll need to check with your state. For a quick look at state requirement licensure, you only need to visit the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) website.

There all the information you need to proceed is.

These processes or steps for becoming a genetic counselor have been as direct and brief as possible. You only need to meet the minimum requirements to launch your career.

Again, it’s essential to be ready to take on any challenge.