How to Become A Genetic Counselor In South Africa

A genetic counselor is a specially trained health care professional. They specialize in medical genetics and counseling.

What Does a Genetic Counselor Do?

The job duties and responsibilities of genetic counselors vary depending on their particular position. Some genetic counselors work primarily in laboratories doing hands-on genetics work, while their counseling of individual clients takes a back seat.

Others rely on the genetic work of other scientists, which they then aggregate and analyze for the benefit of their clients. Genetic counselors may work with specific communities or in larger hospitals.

Genetic Counselor Salary

The South Africa Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that in May the median annual salary for a genetic counselor was R 1237460.47.

Genetic counselors that worked in outpatient care centers were reported as making the highest mean salary at R 1642340.37 per year, but the BLS stated that most genetic counselors work in general medical and surgical hospitals where they make a mean salary of R 1256956.37 per year.

What Is a Genetic Counselor?

Genetics is the study of the human genome, or the code that is made up of human DNA. Genetic counselors are genetic experts who use cutting edge understandings of genetics to predict, assess, and analyze disease risk among individuals, families, and populations.

Genetic Counselor Requirements

Undergraduate education in science, usually biology

Graduate education: Master of Science in Genetic Counseling


Continuing education

Below are steps to Become A Genetic Counselor In South Africa

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Genetic counselor education begins with a bachelor’s degree. There are no requirements for a specific major, but one that is heavy in science would prove beneficial.

There are several bachelor’s degree programs, typically offered as a Bachelor of Science (BS), in genetics available and a few that combine genetics with other subjects, such as genetics and biotechnology or genetics and genomics. Students in these bachelor’s degree programs may take courses in topics like:

Cell biology

Genetic techniques

Population genetics

Gene regulation

Comparative genetics

Step 2: Earn a Genetic Counselor Degree

Genetic counseling degree programs are available as master’s programs and are the minimum education requirement for a genetic counselor. These programs usually result in a Master of Science (MS) in Genetic Counseling degree and are commonly offered through schools of medicine.

Most MS in Genetic Counseling programs are 2 years in length and include clinical internships/rotations and/or other fieldwork experiences, such as advocacy experience.

The various rotations and fieldwork experiences usually allow students to explore different specializations within the field, such as pediatrics, OB/GYN, and more. These programs typically include a thesis or capstone experience and courses that cover topics like:

Genetic testing

Counseling techniques

Clinical genetics

Ethics/professional issues in genetics

Prenatal genetics

Cancer genetics

Step 3: Obtain Certification/Licensure

Becoming a certified genetic counselor is slightly different than becoming a certified counselor or other types of counselors. Genetic counselors obtain certification through the American Board of Genetic Counseling and must pass an exam after their master’s program.

Certification is commonly required for employment and/or state licensure. Not all states require genetic counselors to be licensed, but students can check with their state’s medical board.

Step 4: Complete Continuing Education

Genetic counselors must recertify their board certification and earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs) in either 5-year or 10-year cycles. Counselors must also keep their American Board of Genetic Counseling profile up to date, staying updated on current policies and regulations, and applying for recertification.

What Skills Do Genetic Counselors Need?

Genetic counselors need a number of different skills in addition to their medical expertise. Here are just a few skills and traits that would benefit genetic counselors in their careers:

Excellent communication skills

Excellent bedside manner for communicating potentially challenging information to patients

Understanding of medical ethics including disability rights

Ability to incorporate clients’ needs and preferences into treatment plans

Patience and compassion

How do I become a genetic counsellor In South Africa?

To become a genetic counsellor, students take a two-year master’s degree in genetic counselling, which includes coursework, research and clinical placements.

How long do you have to go to school to be a genetic counselor In South Africa ?

The education and training needed to pursue a career as a genetic counselor is not as rigorous as that of becoming a board-certified physician, but you should expect to spend up to six years in college: four years at the undergraduate level and an additional two at the graduate level.

How hard is it to get into genetic counselor In South Africa ?

Due to the limited number of programs and increasing interest in the field, acceptance rates for genetic counseling graduate programs are less than 8% (NSGC, via UCONN). This number is intimidating; however, it is further motivation for students to strengthen their resumes and applicants.

Is genetic counselor a good job?

The South Africa News Best Job Report of ranks genetics counselors as #2 for best healthcare support jobs and #25 on the list of top jobs overall. 4 Helping people understand their options and explore their healthcare options can be very rewarding.

How much money do genetic counselors make In South Africa ?

R 28049.91 (AUD)/yr.

Do you need a master’s degree to be a genetic counselor In South Africa ?

Both professions require education and training in genetics. However, one important distinction is that although a master’s degree is usually sufficient for a career as a genetic counselor, a doctorate is typical among geneticists, with some opting for a medical degree and others choosing to obtain a Ph.

Is it easy to find a job as a genetic counselor In South Africa ?

Everyone that pursues a career as a genetic counselor must earn a master’s degree in genetic counseling. Because there are just a small number of accredited master’s degree programs in the South Africa , the selection process for admissions is highly competitive.

What are the disadvantages of being a genetic counselor?

Possible disadvantages for those found NOT to carry a changed gene

You may feel guilty that you’ve been ‘spared’ while others in the family remain at risk.

Family relationships can be put under strain.

You may feel a loss of identity.

You may not fully believe the test results and continue to worry about your risk.

Is being a genetic counselor easy?

Becoming a genetic counselor requires a lot of dedication and study. It takes six years of higher education to even reach the minimum requirements. Once certified, professionals also need to keep their skills and knowledge up to date. In five easy steps, here is how to become a genetic counselor.

How competitive is genetic counseling In South Africa ?

How to Increase Your Chances of Acceptance into a Graduate Program. Graduate programs in genetic counseling are very competitive. Class sizes range from 4 to 25 students, though most programs get over 100 applicants each year. You’ll need a minimum of a 3.0 undergraduate GPA just to apply.

How long is a masters in genetic counseling?

about two and a half years Genetic Counseling Training Program

The program takes about two and a half years to complete and only full-time students are accepted. Coursework covers a variety of areas including: genetic counseling.

Can a genetic counselor order tests?

Currently, only eight states allow genetic counselors to directly order tests for patients. To give counselors more professional autonomy industry leaders are calling on Congress and state legislatures to recognize genetic counselors as independent health-care providers.