Genetics is a biology subfield that focuses on trait transmissions and organism changes. Although the genetics major may be a terminal degree, it is the first step for pursuing professional degrees and graduate study.
Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Degree Programs in Genetics
Students enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program in Genetics are allowed to focus on a particular genetics field, such as molecular genetics, evolutionary genetics, or genomics. Coursework in Genetics programs is science-intensive and is devised to train majors to seek entry-level occupations involving laboratory work. Many of these undergraduate programs also allow participation by students in scholarly research under supervision.
Incoming students are required to have a high school foundation in biology, chemistry and advanced math. As these students would be required to prepare lab reports, they are also required to have good writing skills. Before they can begin core coursework in the genetics major, students are required to complete classes in calculus, biostatistics, biology, physics, organic chemistry, and general chemistry.
Core coursework includes biological sciences, such as biochemistry and biology. Thereafter, they may begin genetics-centered courses, including topic areas such as:
•Genetics of plants
•Prokaryotes and eukaryotes
•Evolution of molecules
•Bioinformatics and genomics
•Biology of cells
•Population gene studies
Genetics majors can seek work with government agencies, health care facilities, pharmaceutical companies or universities. They can choose from various career titles such as:
•Genetics research assistant
•Genetics laboratory assistant
Job and Wage Outlook
A job growth rate of 14% has been predicted for biological technicians, during the decade between 2010 and 2020 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). In May 2012, biological technicians earned an average annual wage of $39,750; during the same period, genetics counselors earned $56,800, on average (BLS). A job growth rate of 17% has been predicted for technical writers, during the decade between 2010 and 2020 (BLS). In May 2012, technical writers earned an average annual wage of $65,500.
Continuing Education Choices
Genetics majors interested in university professorships, lab work or scientific research may opt for continued education by enrolling in Master of Science (M.S.) or Ph.D. degrees in related areas. Others pursuing science schoolteacher jobs may seek to earn master’s degrees. Genetics majors could also opt to go to veterinary or medical school.