Population geneticists study the genetic composition of biological populations and track the changes that result from various factors like natural selection. They seek to understand and explain the nature of genetic inheritance within the group, thereby helping to understand the process of evolution a little better.
To track genetic changes, population geneticists study the frequencies of genes and the nature of mating systems, among other things. They note the forces that influence genetic composition within a group and consider how the information might by applied to other plant and animal populations, specifically humans.
As plant and animal populations change due to natural and man-made influences, population geneticists will be needed to put these changes into context and help promote sound, responsible policies to safeguard future populations.
Working Conditions & Context
Population geneticists are most often based in laboratories. They rely on sophisticated methods and technology, and so they must be patient and meticulous in their efforts. Strict adherence to scientific protocols is an absolute must as well.
Population geneticists are often expected to present their research findings in scholarly papers and presentations to fellow scientists. The ability to communicate is highly important.
A typical Salary Range for this career is $44,320 - $139,440 annually.
The Median Income for this career is about $82,840 annually.
Most population geneticists doing independent research will have earned a Ph.D. This usually takes four to six years of graduate study following the attainment of a Bachelor's degree. Upon receiving a Ph.D., a geneticist is expected to work a few years in a post-doctoral training program before being hired by an institution.
Population geneticists who elect to work in an academic setting often begin their careers as instructors or assistant professors. Career advancement is determined primarily by demonstration of innovative thought and research.
Certification & Licensing:
John Gillespie, "Population Genetics: A Concise Guide." Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998. (ISBN 0-8018-5755-4)
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics
The History of Population Genetics
The American Society of Human Genetics
The American Association for the Advancement of Science
** More than a minimum degree may be required for some careers.