How Do I Get into Genetic Engineering?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 09 July 2019
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Genetic engineering is a broad field with numerous career opportunities, from medical research to the development of new ornamental plants. People with an interest in this field will need to receive graduate degrees in their specific area of interest, and can pursue employment from there. It helps to start early on the educational track to become a genetic engineer, as the job requires substantial training, and people with more experience and training can be more appealing as job candidates.

The first step for people who want to pursue careers in genetic engineering is education. Undergraduates can take degrees in biomedical engineering or other areas of the biomedical sciences, and should start thinking about plans for graduate research in their area of interest. Genetic engineering includes the development of new plants and organisms for a variety of purposes, as well as activities like gene therapy, where the genetic code of an organism is altered to address a genetic condition. Undergraduate students may find it helpful to pursue internships to get experience and connections.


In graduate school, a student interested in genetic engineering has an opportunity to do research to contribute to the field, while also developing professional skills. Graduate schools often provide connections for internships in labs, including at government agencies and private companies with an interest in genetic engineering. Students may want to consider these opportunities, as they can be useful for professional networking; a person who wants to get into genetic engineering needs to build up connections that may lead to jobs in the future.

Membership in a professional organization of genetic or biomedical engineers can also be helpful. Such organizations hold conferences, publish trade publications, and promote knowledge in the field. Members can use these resources to keep up with the latest information as well as to develop connections with people working in the field of genetic engineering. They may have opportunities to present or publish papers that will establish their names in the field and can be useful entries in their resumes.

With a strong academic and growing professional record, a person interested in genetic engineering can apply for work in government agencies, private companies, and nonprofit organizations that engage in research and development in this field. Such jobs will allow people to get established in the profession. Over time, they may have a chance to change jobs to work with a more prestigious employer, or to start their own labs for private research into a specific topic.



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