The field of Genetic Counseling is a growing field offering support services to people of all ages. For students interested in this area of study, there are numerous programs offered that are flexible and will well prepare you for a career in this field. Several colleges in the United States offer accredited degree programs and knowledgeable faculty in convenient online settings.
Online programs in this field are able to prepare you in advanced approaches for DNA research, assisting pregnant women, and offering counseling to clients with genetic disorders. Online programs offer convenience and flexible hours for adults who work and have families.
Continue reading below for more information concerning this career field. We have compiled more information to help you make decisions regarding your future career.
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What Does a Genetic Counselor Do?
Genetic counselors can provide expert knowledge with guidance and emotional support to patients diagnosed with genetic disorders. This career path offers the opportunity for you to be able to work with pregnant women whose babies have been diagnosed with diseases, children and adults recently diagnosed with hereditary disease, and careers in research concerning DNA and genetic disorders.
A typical work day consists of you offering advice, counseling, therapy and support to patients and clients dealing with decisions and acceptance of genetic disorders. Genetic Counselors fill different roles on a day-to-day basis depending on their job settings and client base. Counselors can work with families that have a history of hereditary disease, patients that need advice on labs and testing, or planning and medical advice for pregnant women. Genetic Counseling allows students who are interested in a medical profession to pursue a career in a field that involves counseling and helping others.
Degree Levels Available in Genetic Counseling
The field of Genetic Counseling is growing, offering students a lot of opportunities to pursue a higher education in this area. In order to pursue a career in this field, students must start at the undergraduate level, and then enter a graduate program, earning the minimum requirements for licensure in this field.
A graduate degree in Genetic Counseling and an internship or field work will help prepare you for licensure. Information is listed below that gives insight into these program options. Students should consider what degree program best works for their schedule and future professional plans.
- Masters: The required degree program for potential Genetic Counselors to be eligible for licensure is acquired at a Masters level. Higher education programs specializing in Genetic Counseling sometimes require 2-3 years of graduate school after completing a bachelors degree. Upon completion of your program, some colleges require you to complete field work or an internship in order to gain hands-on experience in your career field. Online Masters programs offer options for students who work full time or need flexibility while pursuing a degree in Genetic Counseling.
- Doctoral: Upon completion of a Masters degree in Genetic Counseling for a closely related field, students have the option to enroll in an online doctoral program that can help advance their careers and enhance their knowledge in this field. Doctoral programs can assist professionals who want to focus on research and development in Genetic Counseling, which could lead to career advancements and more choices in this field.
- Certificate Programs: After earning a Bachelors degree, but before pursuing a Masters or Doctorate, students have the option to enroll in programs and pursue certifications that prepare students to apply to graduate school and obtain experience necessary to advance their degree. This certificate does not replace a Masters degree, but it better prepares students to continue their education in this field.
Online Master’s of Genetic Counseling Programs
Many colleges offer a Masters degree in Genetic Counseling through an online format. For students who work full-time or have children, online programs are considered a better choice with more flexible options to fit their schedule. A career in Gentic Counseling can be obtained through completing an online Masters in Genetic Counseling program. Below are online programs for Genetic Counseling that are currently accepting applications for new students:
- Boise State – Online Masters in Genetic Counseling: Boise State’s online Masters in Genetic Counseling program provides a flexible option for students interested in a specialized program that can prepare for licensure in Genetic Counseling. This 56 credit hour program can train you to begin working with clients in a hospital setting, or prepare students for positions in a counseling role in a doctor’s office, or help you start researching in labs.
- Bay Path University – Online Masters in Genetic Counseling: Bay Path University currently offers an interactive online Masters in Genetic Counseling degree program that can provide you with educational training on the latest trends to use in this specialized field. This 59 credit hour program can be completed in 21 months for students attending full time.
Sample Courses for the Online Master’s of Genetic Counseling
Students who are interested in the type of courses available for Genetic Counselors can look at the list below to get a sample of what type of coursework is expected. The courses offered in these degree programs were developed to prepare and inform students about genetics, hereditary disease, and counseling methods to assist patients and clients. Completing a Bachelors degree will give you a knowledge base and reference to genetic disorders, while graduate courses will better prepare you to be a professional in this field. There are many areas you can specialize in when becoming a Genetic Counselor.
The courses offered in the Genetic Counseling program focus on instilling information that can empower students to be successful in their career choices. Graduate Genetic Counseling coursework offers students the opportunity to be trained specialists in the field of hereditary diseases and disorders. Students interested in a Masters in Genetic Counseling program, should read below:
- Foundations of Genetics: Genetic Counselors entering the field of genetic disorders and hereditary disease will be taught a knowledge base of molecular and cellular genetics, epigenetics, the difference in DNA, RNA, and protein. This course will provide educational information to students by studying real life case studies and families. Human variations and disease susceptibility will be studied as well as how to calculate probability using the latest equations in the field.
- Pathophysiology: One area to study in Genetic Counseling is helping patients identify genetic disorders and teaching patients how to cope with them. This course offers information concerning the latest techniques on how to identify signs and symptoms of hereditary disease. Diagnosis and treatments, as well as the lifespan of the disease, and how it affects body systems are some areas that may be covered in this course, which are needed in this line of work.
- Developmental Anatomy and Emryology: Students enrolled in this course will be offered information on human embryology. The focus as a Genetic Counselor will be pre/post natal diagnoses as well as the differences in normal versus abnormal human development. In this course, you can learn more about the origins of genetic disease and how to diagnose.
Path to a Career in Genetic Counseling
The information pertaining to degree programs in Genetic Counseling will help you decide which route is best for you. Now might be a good time for you to start a new degree to pursue a career in this field. If you already have a Bachelors degree, there are numerous online programs that offer a Masters degree in Genetic Counseling. If you have not started a Bachelors degree, and are interested in the field of Genetic Counseling, many undergraduate degrees can prepare you for graduate school such as a Bachelors in Psychology, Sociology, Genetics, and Biology. Upon earning a Masters degree in Genetic Counseling, you will be able to take the licensure exam to practice as a Genetics Counselor.
In order to work directly with clients in the field, the American Board of Genetic Counseling requires licensure in your practicing state to ensure that all certified counselors are competent in their careers. In order to apply for licensure, most states require that you old at least a Masters degree in Genetic Counseling. A licensing examination ensures you have the knowledge to safely practice in a public health capacity.
Genetic Counseling Organizations to Know
Genetic Counseling requires licensing through The American Board of Genetic Counselors which provides guidance for testing in each state for exams. Professionals stay up to date on the latest techniques by joining organizations, like this one, that specialize in their field of expertise. The National Society of Genetic Counseling is an organization in this field that offers support to professionals in this career, as well as opportunities to interact with others that hold similar jobs, and learn more about the latest trends in Genetic Counseling.
If you are interested in pursuing a career in this field, you should review over the information concerning these two organizations: The American Board of Genetic Counseling and the National Society of Genetic Counselors. Both organizations can provide you with helpful insights regarding projections in your field and provide support to you throughout your career.
Careers to Consider
The field of genetics is a rewarding field that is rapidly growing in the United States thanks to innovative studies in genetics. Focuses on genetics, paired with counseling, results in a career that combines medical interest and helping others in a therapy type setting. With a degree in Genetic Counseling, you can work in private practice, public health facilities such as hospitals and clinics, or in research labs. Professionals in this field can work in a variety of settings using their expertise in genetics and counseling to help others.
A Genetic Counseling degree will allow you to provide counseling, support, testing and consultation services to potential clients and patients. Genetic Counselors can be helpful professionals during pregnancy, diagnosing of genetic disease or even when evaluating the future potential and options for hereditary disorders.