Molecular genetics degree qualifications are enjoying a surge in demand, but what best jobs can you do with a degree in Molecular Genetics?
If you are aspiring to study for a degree in molecular genetics, chances are you are wondering which industries will you be able to find work opportunities? Well, you are in luck.
In this article, we have the top 10 jobs that you can do with a degree in molecular genetics. In each section, we have outlined the responsibilities, salary, Qualifications, Skills, Work Experience, and of course, career prospects.
- What do molecular genetics graduates do?
- Top 10 jobs
- Best jobs you can do with a degree in molecular genetics
- Academic Researcher
- Clinical Research Associate
- Clinical Scientist, genomics
- Clinical Scientist, immunology
- Genetic Counselor
- Research scientist
- Government Policy Adviser
- Genetic Consultant
What do molecular genetics graduates do?
Since a degree in molecular genetics is broad, it equips you with the skills that can be transferred to another field of study.
In fact, of the hundred percent of people that have a degree in molecular genetics, about 43.7% went into self-employment, 39.2% proceeded with their study, 6.8% went into work while continuing their education, 4.4% were spread in other activities, leaving about 5.8% that were recorded as unemployed.
Based on the type of work, about 16% become science experts, 12.9% are employed as technicians, 11.1% go into retail and catering and about 51% work in other fields.
If you thought a degree in molecular genetics couldn’t get you a human resource job or as a financial manager, then think again. The business and financial sector is occupied with about 8.3%
Top 10 jobs
Here’s a summary of the top jobs you can do with a degree in molecular genetics
- Academic Researcher
- Clinical Research Associate
- Clinical Scientist, genomics
- Clinical Scientist, immunology
- Genetic Counselor
- Plant breeder/geneticist
- Research scientist
- Government Policy Adviser
- Genetic Consultant
Best jobs you can do with a degree in molecular genetics
There are so many things that you can do with such a broad degree. Below are the main jobs that a degree in molecular genetics can attract.
The first potential job that you can do with a molecular genetics degree is working as an academic researcher.
Mainly, academic researchers carry out a specific high-level research that helps produce new knowledge or general understanding about something (topic under research).
But, you won’t do the research and keep the findings to yourself now, will you? As an academic researcher, you will publish your research findings in journals and even reports.
You can often have the need to write books based on the knowledge gained. Alternatively, you can only include your research findings in one or more chapters of a book.
Regularly, academic researchers tend to get involved in teaching university students. These are employed as lecturers who also conduct researches.
Overall, an academic researcher spends a lot of his/her time planning on research topics and meeting with colleagues to contribute ideas on the different findings to come up with a collective conclusion.
- Write high-quality articles, journals and reports
- Analyze data that will be needed for the final outcomes. Data may sometimes be in burdensome amounts.
- Organizing a great time and budget for effectively carrying out the research
- Making off-site as well as overseas visits to perform an unconventional research
- Working towards deadlines as it is needed by the fund which, in this case, may be a university, company or self-funded research.
- The academic researcher has to comply with all health, security and principles for all research activities
- Effectively prepare and present information at conferences or schools
- Work with teams during research
- Lecturer students; either undergraduate or post graduate
- Develop an in-depth knowledge of skills, techniques, and applications to train upcoming researchers on, for instance, new methods of conducting research.
The amount of salary that academic researchers receive greatly depends on their workplace and qualifications, just like any other career.
If a student has a PhD and is going into research, he/she may often receive a grant (called a research council grant. Besides that, academic research is usually funded in the form of a scholarship or any other organization interested in the outcomes of such a research.
While this largely varies the average amount ranges from £15,000 to as high as £20,000. Any researcher planning to teach people about these findings earns more.
For academic researchers, the salary ranges from £27,000 to £39,000. On the other hand, Senior lecturers receive a salary ranging from £43,000 to about £58,000.
To start off your career as an academic researcher, you first need to have an undergraduate degree, which should be relevant to your area of interest, which in this case is molecular genetics.
This should then be followed by a master’s degree. While it may be possible to get employed in entry positions, upgrading to a PhD increases your chances of employment and to prove that you have in-depth knowledge in the field.
It is very common for graduates with a four year undergraduate Masters’s qualification to go straight into a Ph.D. level.
- Technical ability, knowing how equipment is used, whether old or upcoming
- Organization skills, being able to structure research with a team
- Interpersonal skills, to cultivate strong working interactions
- Solid IT skills in programs such as Microsoft Office in data analysis and presentation
Most employers require a candidate to have some work in this field. Whether you have an undergraduate degree, a master’s degree or a PhD (highly recommended), there are so many internship opportunities that involve working with experienced researchers. These internships help you to build the necessary skills required to be successful in this career.
In order for you to be successful in this career, it is all about delivering positive conclusions after every research, and this should be in your early years. You can use these early moments to build the necessary skills and experience.
In the long run, you are likely to take on senior roles in institutions, which will allow you to teach researchers, and play a huge role in planning and organizing TV documentaries.
Clinical Research Associate
The second option you have to put that molecular genetics degree to good use is by becoming a clinical research associate.
A clinical research associate is a qualified and high-skilled personnel whose job is to run clinical trials to test various drugs. Such trials are done to assess the risks and benefits of drugs before they are placed on the market.
As such, Clinical research associates are usually employed by either a pharmaceutical company or a research organization on a contract basis.
As a clinical research associate, you are likely to be involved in all stages of a clinical trial (which include identifying an investigational site, setting up the trial, monitoring it to the end, then making the final conclusions, after which the trial is closed.
While the duties vary based on the qualifications and experience that the clinical research associate has, here are some of the things you will do.
- Communicate with doctors and advisors about conducting the trial, and the expected outcomes
- Setting up of trial sites. Here you will need to make sure the site has enough materials (which are also known as an investigational medicinal product) and qualified colleagues for assistance
- Monitor the whole trial, which means visiting the sites regularly
- Writing and filing all the reports for each trial visits
- Accounting for the unused materials
- Upon completion of the trial, the clinical research associate must close down trial sites
- Talk over all results with a statistician, who is then responsible for writing statistical reports
In most cases, the salaries depend on the work experience, and they are broken down in three categories as follows:
- For new CRAs, the salary ranges between £23,000 and £30,000.
- An experienced Clinical Research Associate (CRA II) earns a salary in the region of £30,000 to £48,000
- In higher roles, the clinical research associate can earn higher than £55,000
To begin your career as a clinical research associate, you should first obtain an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in nursing, medical sciences, or life sciences.
Having a postgraduate qualification will definitely rank you higher than competitors in the job market. Also, upgrading to a PhD will give you further advantages in securing a higher supervisory role.
- Project management skills
- Attention to detail
- Great presentation skills, since most of your work will be based upon presenting your findings
- Be able to multitask while maintaining flexibility in your work
- As a clinical research associate, you should have an understanding of the significance of good clinical practice (GCP). This is actually a legal requirement
- Strong IT skills, since most of your job will involve documenting and recording information in computerized systems.
While some companies may recruit inexperienced graduates, a higher portion of them will require that you start at an entry position either as a coordinator or clinical trials administrator. After you have gained enough work experience, you can then switch to the more advanced clinical research associate role.
Once you have gained enough work experience and skills, you can easily take on higher roles such as a senior clinical research associate (SCRA). The higher you go, the more work you will have.
In a senior position, you will perform tasks such as planning and attending meetings with investigators and supervising the availability and usage of trial supplies.
You can build you experience in contract research organization. This will widen your experience and increase your chances of better employment opportunities. Later, you can move to a pharmaceutical company.
Clinical Scientist, genomics
A degree in molecular genetics can also open up an opportunity for you to work as a clinical scientist who specializes in genomics.
In this field, most of the work done revolves around examining patient samples in order to identify genetic and genomic defects.
This is done to assess the genetic abnormalities which may cause inherited diseases. In this way, you can help predict whether other family members or future family members are at a risk of inheriting a particular disease.
Below, we have the duties of a clinical scientist working in the genomics sector
- As a clinical scientist, you are required to establish new investigation strategies, considering the extent of the genetic disease.
- Should be able to analyze as well as interpret test results completed by colleagues carried out by other fellows of the lab
- Writing reports for other physicians and healthcare specialists who have requested tests
- Participating in research on any new techniques of testing and reading data
- Carry out continued professional development (also known as CPD).
The remuneration system of clinical scientists is very different compared to other related occupations. The pay rates covered by the Agenda for change (AfC) mainly comprise of nine pay bands.
- New clinical scientists usually fall under band 6 and receive an average pay of £28,050.
- With enough experience under your belt you are likely to be pushed to Band 7, which attracts a pay ranging from £33,222 to about £43,041
- High-ranking and expert clinical scientists fall under band 8 to band 9 and they receive a remuneration that ranges from £42,414 to £102,506. Then again, this depends on your experience
There is quite a lot that goes into becoming a clinical scientist working in genomics. First of all you will need to have a bachelor’s degree.
You can also opt for an integrated master’s degree in genetics or a genetics-related degree such as, in this case, molecular biology.
After that, you can apply for the NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP) which will allow you to train as a clinical scientist.
If you are not familiar with the STP, it is a 3-year workplace-based training that gives you an opportunity to go for higher scientist roles. Year 1 is made to give you general knowledge in the field while the rest or the years are for specializing.
- Problem-solving skills
- Good interpersonal skills
- Leadership skills
- Should be self-motivated
- Good IT skills, since modern labs are computerized.
- Should have the ability to work independently
The most important step that will set you on a good pace is to enter into the Scientist Training Programme. Since there can be more applicants than other places, competition into the STP is always stiff.
To increase your chances of getting into these training programmes, try to find a short-term or an internship in the genetics field. That will ensure that you should stand out from the rest.
As mentioned before, getting the right qualifications and training can really improve your chances of getting employed. Once you become qualified, you can use push your studies and research even further.
Once you get on your feet, you will likely take on higher management roles in your department. Having a HSST programme will lead you into consultant roles.
Clinical Scientist, immunology
Do you have a very solid background in life sciences? Then a career in immunology is just what would suit you.
Clinical scientists who specialize in the immunology field perform a couple of tasks such as diagnosing, monitoring, and treating patients with diseases affecting the immune system.
Examples of such diseases are allergies, antibody deficiency, and autoimmune disorders- just to mention a few.
Mostly, these clinical scientists team up with either other immunologists or biomedical scientists in researching the causes of a patient’s condition.
- The duties of a clinical scientist working in immunology have been outlined below
- The clinical scientist is required to keep a record of all patients
- They coordinate with other clinical scientists in interpreting of test results
- Prescribing medications to patients
- Diagnose a wide range of immunological diseases by performing various lab-based activities.
When it comes to clinical science, occupations that are covered by the Agenda for Change (AfC) have pay rates in 9 bands, just as we covered on the clinical scientist working in genomics above.
In this case
- Inexperienced clinical scientists are categorized on band 6 and they mostly receive a salary £28,050.
- The experience will have you employed on band 7. You should expect a pay ranging from £33,222 to as high as £43,041
- As for consultants and other higher-level positions, you will belong to the band 8 and band 9 category, which should attract a salary ranging from £42,414 to £102,506.
At the outset, you should have a degree in life sciences, specifically the one in subjects such as biomedical sciences, biological sciences, immunology and, of course, molecular genetics.
This will allow you to apply for a spot on the NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP) where you will receive the clinical science training.
You can apply for this STP training through the national school of Healthcare science website. If you already work there, you can simply apply as an internal candidate.
Once this training is completed, you will be awarded a certificate of attainment from the academy of healthcare science. With this certificate, you will be able to register as a clinical scientist with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC).
To succeed as a clinical scientist, you will need to have the following skills:
- Great skills in working with a team
- Communication skills
- Should be Flexible and be able to adapt to workplace changes
- Should be able to organize and conduct a research
- Should keep records
Just as we said before, it is very challenging to enter into the training scheme. If you want to improve your chances of landing a training opportunity, try obtaining some work experience within an immunology department at a hospital.
To progress further in your career, it is important that you should continue in your studies. Once you develop the right amount of experience, you will be set for more supervisory positions. Further training will get you into a consultant and other higher positions. You will also need to have a high knowledge in budgeting.
Next up, you have an option to become a genetic counselor. These specialists mainly assist patients and their families in understanding genetic conditions and how they can be treated. Besides this, genetic counselors interpret genetic information when explaining the information to the patients.
Your aim is to understand medical facts in order to assess the risk of reappearance of any certain genetic disease.
As a genetic counselor, you will be required to perform duties:
- Understand family and medical histories
- Teach patients about analysis, organization, prevention, research as well as resources
- Refer patients for suitable screening methods in way that best suits the patient’s condition
- Handle with mental and principled issues raised by persons and their families
- Helping patients to adapt to the risk or condition a particular genetic condition
- Arranging medical and/or analytical testing. This also involves testing relatives.
The salary for inexperienced genetic counselors normally ranges from £31,365 to £39,169 on Band 6 of the Agenda for Change pay proportions.
Qualified counselors fall on band 7 and these receive a salary between £38,890 and £46,006.
Once you are in a consultant genetic counselor, you are expected to receive a salary of £45,753 to £89,732- this is spread between bands 8a, b, c and d.
A majority of candidates that are entering the genetic counseling career have a degree in biological or biomedical science, nursing and molecular genetics.
After that, you can upgrade to a master’s degree in genetic counseling, which is accredited by the Genetic Counselling Registration Board (GCRB).
These are the skills you will need to pursue a career as a genetic counselor
- Counseling skills, first and foremost
- Communication skills, since most of your job requires talking to patients
- Interpersonal skills, which will enable you to have compassion for your patients
- Research skills
- Good reporting skills
- Ability to adapt to working alone and as a team
- Analytical skills
Most employers prefer candidates that have prior experience to the occupation. To gain this experience, you can either do healthcare work or through volunteering in a genetic counseling clinic.
In this field, the more experience you have means the more opportunities will be available for you.
Also, you may need to move to other hospitals in order to take advantage of more opportunities.
Genetic counselors who are on a consultant level will mostly find themselves in lead roles, whether locally or internationally. However, opportunities to be a consultant genetic counselor are very uncommon.
This is one of the most common jobs in medicine. Basically, a pharmacologist develops and understanding of how medicines work and how they assist the body.
In this position, you may be conducting a lot of researches from time to time. Such researches are mainly based on how medicine interacts with biological systems.
In pharmacology, researches are broken down into two types. We have vitro research, which uses cells or animal tissue, and vivo research, which uses a whole animal. The results obtained indicate how medicine can react on a human being.
Types of pharmacologists
The best part about pharmacology is that you have the option to choose which field to specialize in. Here are the types of pharmacology.
- Clinical pharmacology
- Veterinary pharmacology
- Cardiovascular pharmacology
- As a pharmacologist, you are responsible for designing clinical trials to improve understanding of a drug’s reactions.
- Develop research results into either new products, techniques or practices.
- using computers and other measuring systems to collect, analyze and interpret data
- Write proposals for future clinical trials
- Coordinate with other technical staff and train new and upcoming pharmacologists.
• Ph.D. studentships, which allow you to study for a PhD through carrying out substantial research work, usually pay a stipend. The national minimum doctoral stipend for 2020/21 is £15,285, but some employers pay more. For current information on funding for research training, see UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
• Salaries for postdoctoral positions in academia typically range from £28,000 to £40,000.
• Lecturers with the right combination of qualifications and experience can earn over £55,000. See the University and College Union (UCU) Salary Scales for details.
• Work at a senior level or with significant experience in industry can attract salaries of £35,000 to in excess of £80,000.
To become a pharmacologist, you will need to have a scientific degree in pharmacology. You can also do any of these related subjects:
- biomedical science
- molecular genetics
Obtaining a master’s degree or a PhD will definitely get you a step closer to your dream job. The field is highly competitive, so having a postgraduate degree will make you stand out and stand apart from the rest.
- Practical laboratory skills
- Strong IT skills, since this is where you will be recording and analyzing data
- Communication skills, both verbal and written
- Willingness to collaborate with workmates and team members
- Time management skills
- Attention to detail
It’s significant to acquire appropriate laboratory experience in the industry either in a summer internship or any other work placement. In the long run, this experience will assist you in building a network of contacts.
To gain the required experience, you can either work as a lab assistant or through vacation work experience in academia.
The career prospects for the pharmacologist career are surprisingly high. If you are working in academia and already have a PhD under your belt, you can easily land a senior research position.
Furthermore, you can gain a research fellowship that can involve a lot of teaching and an administration role at a university.
A degree in molecular genetics can also get you a job as a plant breeder. Predominantly, Plant breeders (also known as geneticists) work on improving the quality of existing agricultural and horticultural crops.
They also create multiplicities of plants
Also, plant breeders improve various traits in plants. Essential traits that can be improved are disease resistance as well as drought tolerance.
Here’s a look at the duties that you will be performing from time to time:
- Generate the objectives of each research, which should also include the estimated cost of the work.
- Conduct researches on existing or new methods of improving plant breeding
- Recognize the plants that have the traits needed, which will likely be used in the crossbreeding process.
- Produce plants that are free of viruses
- Write and publish findings. You can also give lectures in universities
- Monitor the activities of competitors in order to develop a market profile
For inexperienced plant breeders, the salary ranges from £16,000 to about £22,000. If you have about 3 to 5 years of experience where you worked in a similar field, your salary will likely range from £22,000 to £25,000. For highly skilled personnel at senior positions, the salary should be between £27,000 and £40,000. However, this may vary depending on the organization.
For entry into this career, you will first need to have an honors degree. This degree can either be in molecular genetics, agriculture, biotechnology, horticulture, crop or plant science.
Upgrading to a postgraduate level can give you a lot of advantages in this field. In fact, a lot of plant breeders have one of these.
To succeed in this field, you will need to have/develop the following skills:
- Team-working skills
- Analysis skills
- Commitment as well as strong interest in plants
- Problem-solving skills
- Good communication, both oral and written
- Ability to do an independent research
- Technical skills, which will be needed when it comes to lab work
- A driving license (this may vary based on the organization’s needs)
Having some experience will give you a lot of chances of landing a job. To obtain this experience, you can do vacation work in a plant breeding or agricultural company. This information is usually made available on the company’s website.
If you have the seamless experience, ability, and outstanding performance, you will likely be promoted to a senior level in any company.
As you go higher up the corporate ladder, so does your duties. It is very common for seniors to shift from field work to budgetary duties, not to mention supervising staff.
You can seek a position with a commercial international company, particularly a company that specializes in seeds, biotechnology or genetic engineering.
A career in scientific research is a very rewarding one, especially if you genuinely got love for research and science.
Research scientists conduct various experiments in order to deepen their knowledge on specific scientific or medicine-related topics.
Besides that, they you will develop new treatments and drugs to be introduced in the market.
Let’s take a look at some of the responsibilities that you will be required to fulfil as a research scientist.
- Conducting experiments, then maintaining a record of the outcomes
- If you are employed at a university, you can teach students
- You will be required to coordinate with research institutes, academia or even hospitals during research.
- Use computer software for analyzing data and interpreting results
Just as in most jobs, the amount of salary you receive depends on your qualifications and experience in the field. These have been detailed as follows:
- If you have a PhD student ship, you will be earning an average salary of £15,009 annually, according to the Research Councils UK
- One you have graduated with a PhD, your salaries will range from £25,000 to £40,000 a year, but this depends on your specialist subject as well as your experience.
- For senior professors, the salary can range from £50,000 to £75,000 a year.
To get started, you will need a degree in any of the following:
- Molecular genetics
- Biomedical sciences
- Medical microbiology
In order to progress to a higher position, you will need to have a master’s degree or at least a PhD. It will be challenging for you to progress without any of these.
With either of these credentials, you have a wider chance of entering into a specialist level, but you’ll need to take further qualifications to become a highly-skilled medical investigator. Conversely, some employers will allow you to study while working part-time.
- Excellent written as well as oral communication skills which will professionalize your reports and presentation skills
- Problem-solving skills
- Analysis skills
- Attention to detail
- Ability to work in teams as well as independently
- scientific and numerical skills
Work experience is one of the most essential and required parts of resume. If you don’t have experience in the field, you can take advantage of a sandwich-year assignment in the industry or vacation work experience in university.
Funding for such training programs are available through Nuffield Foundation and Wellcome Trust.
Once you have completed your PhD program, you have the chance to go into a postdoctoral position. In most cases, these are in form of contracts which last up to 3 years.
To advance your career even further, you have to publish high quality and reliable information on your research objectives and findings.
Once you have developed the right skills in the field, you will easily shift to senior research positions. It is also very possible to go into some other functions in an organization, such as marketing, human resources and many more.
Government Policy Adviser
A career as a government policy adviser will require you to be very flexible and initiative. Our ninth job is a government policy adviser position.
Mainly, these advisers conduct a lot of research, advise on various issues, and carry out developmental work while liaising with a lot of people along the way.
Types of policy work
As a government policy adviser, you will usually work in any of these particular fields
Local and central government
Here, an adviser is involved in activities such as researching, planning and implementing public policies that affect everyone, such as advising members of parliament
Think tanks and charities
Here, the adviser researches, monitors and aims at influencing policies in favor of a particular reason. You may be involves in campaigning and communications
Public and private sector (internal policy roles)
A government policy adviser in this sector implements policies that a certain organization needs in order to move close to its goals and run smoothly along the way.
As a government policy adviser, you will have the following obligations
- Conducting researches from time to time
- Gathering and analyzing various data
- Keep updated with all social and economic developments
- write communications while ensuring that the information is accurate and available
- Collaborate with a range of people as well as organizations
While salaries vary between sectors and organizations, the lower position typically attract a lower salary as well. Let’s look at them in detail:
- When starting off, you will likely work in positions such as policy assistant, which will give you an annual salary ranging from £22,000 to about £30,000.
- With experience, you will be working as a senior policy advisor, which will allow you to earn between £32,000 and £40,000.
- Once you have progressed to the role of policy manager (education, experience and further education), you could earn a salary of £40,000 to £50,000. Studies show that a lot of policy managers even earn more.
To get into this field, you will need to obtain an undergraduate degree in either public administration, economics, anthropology, philosophy and many more.
Besides the undergraduate degree, some positions may require a master’s or a PhD in field such as public policy or even social research.
The qualities that you will need in the Government Policy Advisory career are as follows:
- Research and analysis skills
- Good political judgment and initiative
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills
- Interpersonal skills, since you will be working with a lot of different people
- organization skills, to track priorities and work towards time limits
- A government policy adviser should have the desire to obtain and uphold knowledge various policy areas
To increase your chances of working in this field, you will need to have some work experience to prove to employers that you have the skills for the advisory job.
To obtain this work experience, you can Volunteer, apply for internships. Sooner, you will build a network in the sector and increase your chances of securing a great position. On the volunteer work, you can opt for a charity or a political party.
To develop your expertise in the role, you should consider moving to a larger or more lucrative department. This applies to you if you would like to continue working on individual research projects.
A further experience and education will have you in high-paying positions such as policy managers. From that position, you have the option to move into senior management roles, such as head of a policy department.
Last, but certainly not least, a degree in molecular genetics can open up an opportunity where you can work as a genetic consultant.
As a genetic consultant, you mainly assess individual as well as family risk for inherited medical conditions. These can be conditions such as birth defects or genetic disorders.
Genetic consultants have the following duties
- They have to interview patients to get a full medical background, which is then recorded
- Genetic consultants write detailed consultation reports on genetic concepts for patients As well as referring medical doctors
- They work on evaluating genetic information, which allows them to identify patients that are at a risk for specific genetic illnesses
- Communicate with individual patients as well as the family members on the testing techniques, the risks and the benefits
- Take part in conferences to keep up-to-date of developments in genetics as well as genomics
The average salary that genetic consultants receive was recorded at $81,880 in the May of 2019.
To start off you career as a genetic consultant, you will need to either have a master’s degree in molecular genetics or genetic counselling. The Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling is responsible for accrediting master’s degree programs.
The genetics classes train students in genetics, public health, and patient empathy. During the course of the study, the students will also complete clinical rotations, where they will work directly with patients as well as team members.
The following are the skills that will set you up for success as a genetic consultant:
- Communication skills, both oral and written
- Critical-thinking skills
- Decision-making skills.
In order to secure a position as a genetic consultant, potential employers will need to see some experience on your resume.
To gain this experience, you can opt for healthcare work or volunteering with an agency or a clinic.
Studies have shown that the employment of genetic consultants is expected to grow to about 27 percent from 2018 to 2028 (which is ten years). Compared to the average of all occupations, this is a very fast rate. Since it is still a small occupation, only about 800 jobs are expected to be available in the 10-year timeframe.