Genetic engineers use molecular tools to rearrange fragments of DNA. By doing so they can remove or add elements of an organism's genetic makeup, or even transfer DNA from one species to another. While technically not engineers, the term still applies in the sense that they are reworking the structure of DNA.
By altering the genetic makeup of species, genetic engineers can develop organisms that are better suited to meet environmental challenges. For example, plants can be made more resistant to diseases and pests. Viruses and bacteria can be adapted to carry drugs to targeted tissues. Engineers rework genetic material to make organisms healthier and more efficient.
Jobs for genetic engineers are expected to be numerous. Advances in biotechnology and medicine are driving a greater demand for individuals in this specialty.
Working Conditions & Context
Genetic engineers almost always work in laboratories. The nature of their work demands great attention to detail and a strict adherence to safety standards at all times.
Most genetic engineers are employed by private corporations, particularly pharmaceutical companies. They also may teach in universities and/or conduct research. The federal government also employs many genetic engineers.
A typical Salary Range for this career is $44,320 - $139,440 annually.
The Median Income for this career is about $82,840 annually.
The primary focus of genetic engineering is in fields like biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology, evolutionary biology, and medical genetics. Students should take a series of courses that prepare them for these demanding fields.
A Bachelor's degree is the least a prospective genetic engineer should possess. The greater their experience and training, the better their job opportunities.
Certification & Licensing:
Genetic Engineering for Non-Scientists
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics
Xavier University Department of Biology and Genetic Engineering
** More than a minimum degree may be required for some careers.