Genetic Counselors: Salary Overview
Genetic counselors evaluate the risk of birth defects, genetic disorders, and a variety of other conditions.
They may provide counseling and support to other healthcare providers or to individuals and families who are concerned that they may inherit or transmit genetic disorders.
Their job description typically includes meeting with patients to learn about their individual and family history, evaluating genetic information to identify patients who have a risk of genetic disorders, writing reports for patients and family, and participating in conferences to keep up with the latest advances in genetics.
According to a survey conducted in 2016 by the National Society of Genetic Counseling and cited by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most genetic counselors specialize in prenatal genetic counseling, cancer genetic counseling, or pediatric genetic counseling.
The median annual wage for this profession was $81,880 as of May 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which means that half of all workers in this profession earned less than this amount while half earned more.
The lowest 10 percent earned less than $61, 310 per year while the highest 10 percent reportedly earned more than $114,750.
The industry of employment, experience, and education level are some of the factors that determine a genetic counselor’s wage.
Genetic Counselor Salary by Industry
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, genetic counselors held about 3,000 jobs in the United States in 2018, most of them working for hospitals or for medical and diagnostic laboratories.
The average annual wage reported by genetic counselors who worked for general medical and surgical hospitals was $83,170 a year as of May 2019.
Medical and diagnostic laboratories offered a mean annual wage for genetic counselors of $95,240 a year.
Those who worked for offices of physicians reported an average annual wage of $82,240 a year as of May 2019.
The average annual wage was $77,440 for genetic counselors who worked for colleges, universities, and professional schools and $108,670 a year for those who were employed by outpatient care centers.
In conclusion, according to BLS, the highest-paying field for genetic counselors were outpatient care centers.
There are other ways to improve your earning prospects as a genetic counselor, besides changing the field of employment.
Licensure is required only in about half of the states by many other states are preparing legislation for licensure.
Becoming certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling is a requirement for licensure and it can also help you earn a higher-than-average salary.
Salaries for this occupation also vary depending on the region of employment.
According to BLS, the top-paying states for genetic counselors are California and Connecticut- states where the average annual wage for this profession was above the $100,000 mark in May 2019.
Other high-paying states where the average annual wage was over $90,000 are Nevada, New York, and Colorado.
On the other hand, the lowest average annual wages were reported in Florida and Maryland where genetic counselors earned $63,030 and $70,820 a year, respectively, on average.
Therefore, relocating to another state may improve your earning prospects as a genetic counselor.
Ongoing technological advances give genetic counselors access to more types of tests.
Nowadays cancer genomics, for example, can determine someone’s risk for a specific type of cancer.
The demand for genetic counselors is projected to grow as more people seek genetic tests and counseling.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment for genetic counselors is projected to grow 27 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.
This growth is also explained by the fact that many genetic tests are covered by health insurance providers and therefore they become accessible to more people.
* Based on information from the May 2021 salary report from the BLS. The figures represent accumulated data for all states of employment for Genetic Counselors. BLS data represents averages and medians for workers at all levels of education and experience. This data doesn't represent starting salaries.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.