Molecular geneticists identify genes associated with specific functions, diseases, and disorders. They identify genetic mutations on a molecular level and establish genotypes to better understand the nature of genetic makeup. Some molecular geneticists work to develop new diagnostic tests based on DNA analysis.
The most common activity undertaken by molecular geneticists is identifying the causes of congenital disease and determining what roles environmental conditions play in their development. Their hope is to devise ways to minimize or even eliminate the presence of these disorders in humans.
Molecular geneticists use cutting edge equipment and techniques to gather, replicate, and analyze DNA. After testing is complete, they produce reports summarizing their findings and share them with colleagues. By gathering enough information, geneticists can form new understandings and methods for addressing genetic diseases and disorders.
Given the abundance of information coming from the Human Genome Project, opportunities in the field of molecular genetics will continue to expand. As genetic testing becomes more commonplace, more molecular geneticists will be needed to conduct and evaluate tests and their results.
Working Conditions & Context
Molecular geneticists work in laboratories associated with hospitals, universities, and medical research centers. They typically work with a team of assistants and related specialists. Their work demands familiarity with sophisticated equipment and methods, about which they are expected to continue learning throughout their careers.
Molecular geneticists are most frequently employed by hospitals, though universities and government agencies are also common employers. There is limited employment by private corporations.
A typical Salary Range for this career is $35,620 - $101,030 annually.
The Median Income for this career is about $65,080 annually.
A Bachelor's degree is the minimum expected of molecular geneticists. The best opportunities are available to those who obtain at least a Ph.D. or M.D. One's Bachelor's and Master's degrees should be in genetics or molecular biology, complemented by courses in biochemistry, biomedical science, and biotechnology.
Experience is a key factor in job opportunities. Those with significant experience in laboratory settings will have a competitive edge.
Certification & Licensing:
The American College of Medical Genetics
The American Society of Human Genetics
The Association for Molecular Pathology
The Clinical Molecular Genetics Society
The International Federation of Human Genetics Societies
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics
** More than a minimum degree may be required for some careers.