Science

Geneticist

Geneticists study genes to work out how cells and organisms behave.

Annual Salary

£18,000 to £60,000

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588 (source Office for Statistics)

Working hours

40

What's it all about?

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • using laboratory techniques to prepare and analyse samples of genetic tissue
  • recording and interpreting the results of experiments and tests
  • using data and statistics to develop computer models of genes
  • writing reports for other professionals
  • reporting and publishing your findings in scientific papers
  • planning lectures and teaching students
  • supervising, training and mentoring other laboratory staff

University

You'll need a degree or a postgraduate master's qualification in genetics, or a related subject which covers genetics.

Degrees and postgraduate courses include:

  • genetics
  • biology
  • biochemistry
  • molecular biology
  • life sciences
  • biological sciences

Employers may expect you to have, or be working towards, a PhD.

Integrated master's qualifications such as MBiolSci, MBiol or MSci can be studied at university. These courses combine independent research and can lead directly onto study for a PhD.

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English, maths and a science
  • 3 A levels, including at least one science subject
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

£18,000 to £60,000

Starter salary: £18,000 to £20,000

Experienced salary: £30,000 to £42,000

These figures are a guide.

40

You’ll usually work Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. You may also need to work evenings and weekends. 

You’ll spend a lot of time in a laboratory using scientific instruments like microscopes. You may also spend a lot of time working at a computer.

In a laboratory, you’ll be expected to wear protective clothing, like a laboratory coat and safety glasses.

As a research geneticist, with experience you may be able to work your way up to laboratory supervisor or clinical study manager. Lecturing in a university or teaching may also be an option. 

You could move into scientific sales or, with further studies, qualify as a genetic counsellor.

You may improve your career prospects by joining a professional body like The Genetics Society.

You can find out more about careers in genetics from The Genetics Society and the The British Society for Genetic Medicine.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • knowledge of biology
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • science skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • maths knowledge
  • analytical thinking skills
  • the ability to read English
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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