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Geneticists study how genes function to produce cells and organisms, and how hereditary traits and mutations are present in populations and passed through generations. In addition, they discover and use DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) sequence variations to conduct forensic, wildlife, evolutionary, agricultural and medical research.

  • Avg. Salary $92,613.00
  • Avg. Wage $48.26
  • Minimum Education 6 years post-secondary
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed 2,700
  • In Demand High
Also Known As

Biological Scientist, Biomedical Geneticist, Developmental Geneticist, Human Cytogeneticist, Medical Geneticist, Population Geneticist, Research Scientist

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Microbiologists and Cell and Molecular Biologists (2121.2) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Biologists and Related Scientists (C021) 
  • 2011 NOC: Biologists and related scientists (2121) 
  • 2016 NOC: Biologists and related scientists (2121) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Interest Codes
The Geneticist is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Microbiologists and Cell and Molecular Biologists

Interest in synthesizing information to study the effects and control of human, plant and animal pathogens and toxins


Interest in precision working with instruments to conduct clinical and laboratory studies to test, evaluate and screen drugs and pharmaceuticals, and to conduct molecular and biochemical studies and experiments into genetic expression, gene manipulation and recombinant DNA technology


Interest in consulting to advise on issues related to the development of new practices and products at the cellular and molecular level; may supervise biological technologists and technicians and other scientists

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Updated Mar 18, 2016

Genetics is becoming used in all fields of biology and geneticists often work with scientists in other fields. Research geneticists may specialize in a wide range of areas including:

  • biomedical genetics - the study of normal and abnormal genetic factors at the level of chromosomes, biochemistry or molecules for the diagnosis and treatment of heritable genetic diseases
  • developmental genetics - the study of the genetic control of cells and the processes by which they form multi-cellular organisms (as part of normal development or abnormally, as in cancer or neurodegenerative disease) 
  • molecular genetics - the study of the basis of gene activity, transmission and mutation, including the manipulation of genes and their transfer among species
  • population genetics - the study of natural variation and the processes of inheritance and evolution in populations of organisms, for example, tracing human histories and genealogies
  • agricultural genetics - the study of disease resistance in plants and animals and other genetic improvements in crops and stocks
  • bioinformatics - production, comparison, and analysis of DNA sequences using computer algorithms
  • phylogenetic research - taxonomists solve species identification and relationship problems
  • forensic genetics - the use of genetic differences in human and other species for identification.

For information about geneticists involved in developing and improving industrial processes (for example, for the production of drugs, antibiotics or vaccines), see the Biotechnologist occupational profile.

Medical geneticists (technicians, genetic counsellors, and physicians) study the causes, prevention and treatment of human genetic conditions and are directly involved in patient care. Under the supervision of medical geneticists, genetic counsellors obtain family histories and provide advice regarding risks to unborn children of couples with a familial history of genetic disease.

Other geneticists may be involved in field biology or laboratory investigations with microbes, plants or animals. This usually involves working at a laboratory bench, but also can be based on field work collections, mathematical models or computer simulations.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 18, 2016

Geneticists usually work in a laboratory environment. They must observe safety procedures when working with hazardous substances such as chemicals and radioactive materials. Those who use recombinant DNA conduct experiments in controlled environments. Evening and weekend work may be required to complete experiments and tests.

Medical geneticists are physicians who work in university medical centres or hospitals.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 18, 2016

Geneticists need the following characteristics:

  • an interest in biology
  • curiosity and imagination
  • persistence and patience
  • problem solving skills
  • an aptitude for mathematics
  • strong attention to detail
  • good communication skills
  • manual dexterity for performing experiments
  • willingness to read research publications to keep up with new developments and discoveries in a rapidly advancing field.

Some geneticists must be willing to work with animals (invertebrate or vertebrate).

All geneticists should enjoy synthesizing information, finding innovative solutions to problems, using sophisticated instruments and equipment to perform tasks requiring precision, and supervising the work of others.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 18, 2016

Geneticists must have an advanced degree in genetics or a related field, such as biology, microbiology or biochemistry. Most geneticists begin their studies in a 4-year bachelor of science (B.Sc.) degree program in a biological science, then go on to complete a master's (M.Sc.) or doctoral (PhD) degree in genetics or a medical doctor (M.D.) degree, followed by specialty training and further study in a genetics program.

Graduates of B.Sc. degree programs in genetics may work as genetics technicians. Graduates of M.Sc. degree programs may work in high level technical positions. Genetic counsellors need a master's degree, specifically in genetic counselling. A PhD is required to work as an independent researcher or teach at the university level.

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 18, 2016


Biologists study living organisms and apply their scientific knowledge in various fields.


Professional Biologist is a protected title under Alberta’s Professional and Occupational Associations Registration Act [pdf]. This means that to call yourself a Professional Biologist, you must be a registered member of the Alberta Society of Professional Biologists (ASPB). At present, you can call yourself a "biologist" if you are not a registered member of ASPB.

What You Need

Membership requires:

  • At least 3 years of acceptable work experience
  • A bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or doctoral degree in biological sciences from an approved educational institute, or equivalent
  • 3 letters from professional referees (preferably, at least 1 from a Professional Biologist)

For official, detailed information about registration requirements, visit ASPB.

Working in Alberta

elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for registration in Alberta if registered biologists in the 2 jurisdictions have similar responsibilities and competencies. For more information, see What if I am already certified in another province or territory in Canada? and ASPB.

To learn about certification for internationally educated biologists, see Biologist Registration Process.

Contact Details

Alberta Society of Professional Biologists
370, 105 12 Ave SE
Calgary, Alberta T2G 1A1

Call: 403-264-1273

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 18, 2016

Geneticists are employed by the following organizations:

  • universities
  • government departments
  • hospitals
  • pharmaceutical companies
  • agribusiness companies
  • biotechnology companies.

Geneticists are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 2121: Biologists and Related Scientists. In Alberta, 80% of Biologists and Related Scientists work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 18, 2016

For information about salary ranges for university professors, see the University Professor occupational profile.

Biologists and related scientists

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $23.08 $53.84 $35.12 $32.21
Overall $32.45 $67.40 $48.26 $50.11
Top $36.06 $110.04 $65.88 $62.26

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information
Health Care & Social Assistance
Public Administration
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


Vacancy Rate

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Agriculture and Related Technologies
  • Computer and Information Technology
  • Environment, Forestry and Related Studies
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
  • Sciences
  • Social Sciences, Law and Religious Studies
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 18, 2016

Alberta Society of Professional Biologists website:

Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences website:

ECO Canada website:

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 16, 2016. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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