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Geneticist

Geneticists study the structure, function, variability, and transmission (heritability) of genes. They also use DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) sequence variations to conduct forensic, wildlife, evolutionary, agricultural, and medical research.

Also Known As

Biologist, Cytogeneticist, Geneticist (Bioinformation / Clinical / Developmental / Medical / Molecular / Population / Quantitative), Molecular Biologist, 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) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Microbiologists and Cell and Molecular Biologists
2006 NOC : 2121.2

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
INNOVATIVE

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

OBJECTIVE

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

DIRECTIVE

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

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Genetics is increasingly being applied in all fields of biology. Geneticists often work with scientists outside the life sciences. Research geneticists specialize in a wide range of areas including:

  • Clinical genetics - the study of normal and abnormal genetic factors at the level of chromosomes and DNA, along with the diagnosis and treatment of heritable genetic diseases using biochemistry and physiological tests
  • Developmental genetics - the study of the genetic control of cells and the processes by which they form multicellular organisms (as part of normal development or abnormally, as in cancer or neurodegenerative disease)
  • Molecular genetics - the study of the molecular 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, such as tracing human histories and genealogies, both recent and in the distant past (prehistoric)
  • Agricultural genetics - the study of the genetic inheritance of traits in plants and animals, including disease resistance, growth, production, end-product quality, and the facilitation of improvements in crops and livestock
  • Bioinformatics - the production, comparison, and analysis of DNA sequences using computer algorithms to identify potential functions and information
  • Phylogenetic research - the use of DNA sequences for molecular data to solve species identification and evolutionary relationships
  • Forensic genetics - the use of genetic differences in humans and other species to identify individuals and groups

Some geneticists are involved in developing and improving industrial processes, such as producing drugs including antibiotics and vaccines. For more information, see the Biotechnologist occupational profile.

Medical geneticists (physicians) study the causes, prevention, and treatment of human conditions with genetic causes. They are directly involved in patient care.

Genetic counsellors (M.Sc.) gather and analyze family history and inheritance patterns, calculate risks of disorders recurring, and provide information about genetic testing and related procedures. They offer support to families who are affected by or at risk of a genetic disorder.

Other geneticists may be involved in field biology or laboratory research on microbes, plants, or animals. This usually involves working at a laboratory bench. It can also involve field collections, mathematical models, or computer simulations.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2020
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

Geneticists most often work in a laboratory. They often work with hazardous substances such as chemicals and radioactive materials. They must know and use safety procedures. During laboratory experiments, controlled environments are the norm.

Because experiments and tests must often be monitored, evening and weekend work is common. Geneticists spend a lot of time analyzing data and writing reports.

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

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Geneticists need:

  • Analytical and numeracy skills
  • Curiosity and imagination
  • Persistence and patience
  • Critical-thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Team work and communication skills
  • Manual dexterity for performing experiments

Depending on their field of study, some geneticists work with animals (invertebrate or vertebrate model systems). Studies with plants and some animals may involve working in the field.

All geneticists should enjoy organizing and synthesizing information and finding innovative solutions to problems. They should be comfortable using sophisticated instruments and equipment to do precision tasks. Geneticists should be at ease supervising the work of others and following the direction of superiors.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020
  • Minimum Education 6 years post-secondary

Geneticists must have an advanced degree in genetics or a related biological field, such as evolution, microbiology, or biochemistry. They need to have knowledge in and an aptitude for biochemistry.

Most geneticists begin their studies in a 4-year bachelor of science (B.Sc.) degree program in a biological science. They may then go on to complete a master of science (M.Sc.) or doctoral (PhD) degree in genetics. However, some go on to a medical doctor (MD) degree, followed by specialty training and further study in a genetics program.

Graduates of B.Sc. genetics programs often enter the field as genetics technicians. Graduates of M.Sc. programs can step into high-level technical positions. A PhD is the best route to working as an independent researcher in a university or company, or teaching at the university level.

All geneticists need to follow the latest research to keep up with new developments and discoveries in a rapidly advancing field.


To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020
  • Certification Provincially Regulated

Biologist

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

Legislation

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.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Biologist.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Geneticists work for:

  • 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 [pdf] 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 (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

In Alberta, the 2121: Biologists and related scientists occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.1% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 58 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

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

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2020

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

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Biologists and related scientists

2016 NOC : 2121
Average Wage
$48.26
Per Hour
Average Salary
$92,613.00
Per Year
Average Hours
37.1
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
12
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2019 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 2121 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

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.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

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.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
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.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Health Care & Social Assistance
Public Administration
ALL INDUSTRIES
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
49%
49%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
11%
11%
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
14%
14%
Vacancy Rate
N/A
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 31, 2020

Alberta Society of Professional Biologists website: www.aspb.ab.ca

Canadian Association of Genetic Counsellors website: www.cagc-accg.ca

Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences website: csmb-scbm.ca

ECO Canada website: www.eco.ca

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada website: www.royalcollege.ca

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

Updated Mar 31, 2020. 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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