Comparative genomicists are researchers who analyze DNA data with the help of computer software. They compare genomes among species by analyzing factors like DNA sequence similarity, gene location in a chromosome, and the length and numbers of genes. They do all this to gain a better understanding of how species have evolved and determine the function of genes and noncoding regions of the genome.
The practical results of comparing genomes vary from one project to the next, but essentially comparative genomicists hope to learn from one species and its DNA makeup and apply what they've learned to benefit another species.
As genomics and genetics gain importance among medical research and healthcare fields, the demand for qualified genomicists of all varieties is expected to grow considerably. The higher one's educational credentials, the more job opportunities they will enjoy.
Comparative genomics is primarily a research-oriented field, and as such is largely driven by private and government grants. Individuals in this field will face considerable competition for funding. So though their work is in high demand, competition for rewarding positions can be daunting.
Working Conditions & Context
Comparative genomicists usually work in laboratories, though gathering samples in the field is sometimes necessary. Attention to detail is crucial, as is the ability to communicate with other research professionals.
Comparative genomicists work for a number of employers, ranging from universities to government agencies to hospitals and private corporations.
A typical Salary Range for this career is $44,320 - $139,440 annually.
The Median Income for this career is about $82,840 annually.
Students interested in a career in comparative genomics will need to complete a genomics-focused scientific course of study. This requires a well-rounded approach to science fundamentals like biology, chemistry, and mathematics, all in support of a college major in genomics. General courses such as sociology, psychology, and the humanities will be of benefit as well.
Practicing genomicists need to obtain advanced degrees to remain competitive. This can include medical residencies and post-doctoral research.
Certification & Licensing:
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
The Association of American Medical Colleges
The National Human Genome Research Institute
The American Society of Human Genetics
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics
** More than a minimum degree may be required for some careers.