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What can I do with my degree?: Genetics

A genetics degree can lead to a career in scientific research or industry, as well as equipping you with transferable skills for a range of alternative jobs...

Job options

Jobs directly related to your degree include:

Jobs where your degree would be useful include:

Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here. To find out what jobs would suit you, log in to My Prospects.

Work experience

Practical experience gained through work shadowing/experience and placements in the laboratory and field, as well as knowledge of the range of techniques used, will increase your chances of finding genetics-related work.

You may find it helpful to gain some experience within industry during university holidays to allow you to compare laboratory work in academia and industry in order to work out which you prefer. Temporary work within a healthcare environment, for example in a hospital, may also prove useful in helping you explore career ideas.

You might decide to do some volunteering with organisations that specialise in researching genetic conditions or supporting people with inherited disorders.

Search for placements and find out more about work experience and internships.

Typical employers

Most careers relating to genetics are based in the health services, so employers tend to be hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and universities.

As genetic-based technology develops, opportunities arise in food and drink companies, health and beauty care, biotechnology, and research and consultancy companies. The government-sponsored research councils have laboratories that recruit scientists, but usually following a higher degree. For more information, see Research Councils UK (RCUK) .

Graduates may consider opportunities in industries related to biological sciences, e.g. biotechnology companies, agricultural and horticultural companies. Many also use their skills in unrelated fields, such as business, finance and retail.

Find information on employers in science and pharmaceuticals, healthcare, and other job sectors.

Skills for your CV

In addition to gaining specialist subject knowledge, which is important if you intend to pursue a career in a genetics-related job (e.g. scientific research), a genetics degree also develops transferable practical and technical skills such as:

  • logical thinking, numeracy and computing skills;
  • ability to handle masses of diverse data and draw conclusions;
  • awareness of current issues and ethical debates;
  • communication skills including report writing and making presentations;
  • time management;
  • problem-solving;
  • self-reliance and initiative;
  • business awareness;
  • teamworking and strong interpersonal skills.

Further study

Many genetics-related employers really value postgraduate study. This is because they value the technical skills being developed to a higher level, which is particularly useful in research, as well as other transferable skills, e.g. analytical and report writing.

There are many options to enhance the technical knowledge gained in your first degree. Many graduates choose subjects directly related to their discipline, such as medical genetics and molecular genetics. Alternatively they may choose subjects derived from genetics, such as immunology and pharmacology.

For more information on further study and to find a course that interests you, see Masters degrees and search postgraduate courses.

What do genetics graduates do?

More than 40% of genetics graduates are employed six months after graduation, many as technicians, or as science or business professionals. A large number go on to complete further study.

Graduate destinations for genetics
Destinations Percentage
Employed 43.0%
Further study 38.4%
Working and studying 6.4%
Unemployed 8.4%
Other 3.8%
Types of work entered in the UK
Retail, catering and bar work 23%
Technicians and other professionals 14.4%
Business, HR and financial 12.0%
Science professionals 9.3%
Other occupations 41.3%

Find out what other science graduates are doing six months after finishing their degrees in What Do Graduates Do?  

Graduate destinations data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

Written by AGCAS editors
June 2014

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