Two of the career titles available in the area of cytogenetics are cytogenetic technologist and geneticist. These careers differ in many areas, from educational requirements to licensing standards. Keep reading to learn more about this field.

Is Cytogenetics for Me?

Career Summary

Cytogenetics is the study of chromosomes, their abnormalities and how these abnormalities affect human development and cause diseases. Cytogenetic analysis can be used to identify congenital birth defects, cancer, infertility and hematological disorders. Job titles for those working in cytogenetics include cytogenetic technologist and geneticist.

Work Duties

Cytogenetic technologists, also known as medical laboratory specialists, prepare biological specimens for chromosome testing. In this position, you may use cell counters, microscopes and computerized equipment to carry out these tests. With experience, you may advance to a leadership position and oversee laboratory technicians. As a geneticist, you will specialize in the study and research of inheritable traits at the biological level. You may harvest, examine and analyze chromosomes for abnormalities. You may be in charge of an entire lab and oversee other geneticists, as well as technicians and technologists.

Salaries and Employment Outlook

In May 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that medical and clinical laboratory technologists earned a median annual salary of $57,580. That same year, biophysicists and biochemists, the groups that encompass geneticists, earned median salaries of $81,480 annually.

The BLS projected that job opportunities for medical and clinical laboratory technologists will increase 14%, while employment opportunities for biophysicists and biochemists are expected to increase by 19% during the 2012-2022 decade. Both of these growth rates are considered to be faster than the average compared to other occupations during that period.

How Can I Work in Cytogenetics?

Education Requirements

Cytogenetic technologists often have a bachelor's degree in medical laboratory science or a related field. These degree programs typically include sequences in microbiology and biochemistry, as well as standalone courses in histology, immunology and urinalysis. Clinical rotations are also included in these curricula. According to the American Board of Medical Genetics, to become a clinical cytogeneticist, you must complete a doctoral or equivalent degree and a postdoctoral fellowship. A Ph.D. in Genetics is also acceptable.


The BLS indicates that some states require laboratory personnel to be licensed. This process may include earning a bachelor's degree and passing an exam. In some states, earning a certification, such as the one offered by the American Society for Clinical Pathology's Board of Certification, may be required for licensure.

For geneticists, the BLS states that any medical scientist who has medical interaction with a patient must also be a licensed physician. If you don't wish to carry out these types of procedures then you may still need to meet standards similar to other laboratory professionals.

Related Articles for Cytogenetics

  • Cytogenetics Certification and Education Programs

    Cytogenetic technologists help diagnose genetic disorders. Read on to learn more about the education and training paths that can prepare you for licensing and certification.
  • Master's Degrees in Cytogenetics

    A genetics or genetic counseling master's degree program could allow you to take cytogenetics classes and work as a microbiologist, biochemist or genetic counselor. Learn about options in the field.

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