How To Become A Genetic Engineer

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 9 minute read

What is the purpose of genetic engineering?

An organism’s genome can be altered by genetic engineering, also known as genetic modification. During this period of genetics’ development, the phrase recombinant DNA technology was coined, which refers to the insertion of foreign DNA into a genome or the mixing of DNA from various genomes.

To develop and operate properly, an organism needs a well-organized collection of genetic instructions, which are contained inside its genome.

Molecular cloning procedures can be used to isolate and clone the genetic material of interest to produce a DNA sequence or synthesize the DNA and then insert this construct into the host organism.

A genetically modified organism is one that has undergone a process of genetic modification (GMO). GM bacteria were created in 1973 and GM mice were created in 1974, the first GMOs.

Because of the lack of production capacity, the commercialization of insulin-producing bacteria in 1982 was necessitated.

It was Taikong, Taiwan’s largest aquarium fish breeder, that developed genetically altered fluorescent fish in 2003. The zebrafish, which is native to the rivers of India and Bangladesh, was the initial species of what would become known as the Glofish.

An embryo of a zebrafish was genetically altered by inserting a jellyfish green fluorescent protein, which measured just 1.18 inches in length.

First, the red-fluorescent zebrafish patent was submitted in 1999 by researchers at the National University of Singapore Genetic engineering may be used for a broad variety of creatures, including plants, animals, and microbes.

Medicine.  It may surprise consumers who are wary of buying genetically modified foods yet by 2014, ten of the twenty-five most popular prescription drugs had recombinant proteins in their formulas.

Tobacco genetic engineering was used to generate an Ebola vaccine in West Africa in 2014, which was an important use of genetic alteration. The FDA authorized gene therapy in 2017 to treat a kind of progressive blindness with a 90% success rate.

Research.  A fresh and exciting technique for humans to profit from genetic engineering is always being developed by scientists. Genetically engineered mosquitoes have been found in the Cayman Islands, Brazil, and the Florida Keys, among other places.

In the Keys, releasing 750 million male mosquitoes should help lower the population of bothersome insects because only females bite.

Industrial.   Bacteria and yeast can be altered through genetic engineering techniques. For example, bacteria may be used to make biofuels, clean up oil spills, carbon, and other harmful waste, and detect arsenic in drinking water.

The breakdown of polymers into sugars and the subsequent conversion of these sugars into ethanol or another biofuel may aid in the reduction of carbon emissions.

Agricultural.  It is one of the most well-known and controversial uses of genetic engineering to create and use GMO crops or GMO organisms.

Consequently, 93% of soybeans, 93% cotton, 86% corn, and 95% sugar beets were genetically engineered by that point in 2010.

Herbicide resistance, quicker development, and longer shelf life are just a few of the advantages that genetically modified crops may provide consumers. Unfortunately, GMO food is restricted or banned in roughly 50 nations, and GMO labeling is required in 64 countries.

Education About Genetic Engineering

A college degree in Genetic Engineering is best suited to those who did well in biology and chemistry in high school. At the bachelor’s degree level, the hunt for colleges providing genetic engineering degrees must begin.

Molecular biology, genetic engineering, genomics, genetics, and biotechnology are all areas of study that you may look into in your quest.

More than 88 percent of the students enrolled at Cedar Crest College in Allentown are women, founded in 1867. The 9:1 student-to-professor ratio is a result of the relatively modest class size of roughly 15 students.

A Bachelor of Science in Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology is now available from the school, making it a pioneer in this field.

Molecular genetics, cancer, immunology, and molecular biology are just a few of the topics covered by students at the Department of Biology.

Lab work and independent research are also available to students. 60 percent of students utilize their undergraduate degree as a stepping stone to a graduate school in a relevant profession once they finish their studies.

Purdue University’s College of Science at West Lafayette, Indiana, provides a wide range of undergraduate degrees, including biochemistry, biological engineering, biomedical engineering, cell, molecular, and developmental biology, microbiology, biology, and genetics. Coursework for careers in genetic engineering may be found at a number of these schools. 

A deeper look at some of the possibilities:

Biology. Molecular biology, general microbiology, cell structure and function, genetics, molecular biology, organic chemistry, and the development of organisms are some of the topics covered in these programs.

Biology and biochemistry laboratories are also available to students, as well as a supervised Biology Research project.

Biochemistry. Bachelor of Science students learn about how nutrients are converted into cells, how they are used for energy, and how genetic information is transferred to biological structures.

Additionally, the degree covers courses on cell structure and function, chemical and physical chemistry, and genetics.

Cell, Molecular, and Developmental Biology. The ecology and pathogenesis of disorders like Parkinson’s are the primary concerns of eukaryotic cell biologists.

Since the nuclei of eukaryotic cells in plants and animals can have a single nucleus or several nuclei, eukaryotes can be single or multicellular.

Eukaryotic Cell Biology and Eukaryotic Genetics are added to the biology major’s curriculum, which is otherwise comparable.

An inside look at genetic engineering is being conducted in the Purdue Department of Biological Sciences. Advanced study in biological sciences, law, genetic counseling, and many other health-related fields are also possible with this degree.

Genetics. As part of the degree, students learn about the molecular and organismal levels, including how a cell becomes malignant. In this course, students learn about the structure and function of cells, as well as the role of viruses in illness.

Tourette syndrome is a polygenic disorder, and Purdue researchers are studying its genetic basis. As many as one percent of children aged five to seventeen are thought to be affected by this condition, which appears as an uncontrolled Tic.

Alternatively, Florida Tech’s Bachelor of Science in Genomics and Molecular Genetics program in Melbourne would be a good option. Nucleic acid analysis and genetic engineering are taught and practiced in research labs by faculty members and graduate students.

Attend lectures and do laboratory research at two of the most excellent facilities in the country. Large growth chambers and mass spectrometers may be found in the F.W. Olin Life Science Building, which is home to 70,000 square feet of cutting-edge equipment. Harris Center for Science and Engineering houses most of the biology programs’ research.

A master’s degree in genetic engineering is difficult to find while searching for colleges that offer this type of degree. Instead, check into schools and institutions that offer degrees in human genetics and genomics.

Students may want to pursue a Master of Science in Human Genetics and Genomics at Southern California University in order to improve their professional chances and research possibilities (SCU). At $947 per credit hour, students can complete the 36-credit degree online in one year (three terms).

Distance learning omits lab work, which might be a downside for certain students. For example, students can learn about the microbiome and infectious diseases that affect humans, as well as fetal development, hereditary disorders, genomics, and human genetics.

DNA, which is the fundamental unit of heredity and is studied in genetics, is unique from genomics in that it is not the only unit of heredity that may be studied in genomics.

When studying the formation of an organism, diseases, or the response of genes to certain medications, scientists study genes, or sections of genes, in great detail.

As a scientist at The Jackson Laboratory in Maine back in 1986, Dr. Tom Roderick developed the word genomics and introduced it to the scientific community.

However, the PLOS Genetics Journal believes the term was coined in the early 1920s. 3.1 billion bases of DNA make up the human genome, which is made up of 23 pairs of chromosomes and contains all of the cell’s instructions.

In the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh, there is an MSHG program for those who excel in a laboratory environment. Laboratory Genetics or Genetic Data Analysis can be chosen by students depending on their future employment plans.

As a result, students may choose from a wide range of electives, such as cellular and molecular pathology; cell biology; molecular pharmacology; microbiology; and human genetics.

The MSHG program requires students to select a mentor who serves as a guide for their thesis work. Pitt Public Health offers a symposium in the spring semester where faculty members critique student presentations.

Working in genetic engineering would require a Master of Science in Medical and Molecular Genetics, such as that offered at Indiana University.

Optional thesis classes are offered in the following areas:

  • Molecular Biology and Genetics
  • Cellular Basis of Systems Biology
  • Clinical Genetics
  • Human Genetics

Graduates with at least a 3.0-grade point average in biology, biochemistry, and biological sciences are encouraged to apply. Candidates who have previously worked in a research lab or studied in a research-oriented field are given more weight.

You may want to look at graduate programs in Biomedical Engineering that include life sciences courses that include biological chemistry and genetics as well as biological membrane structure and molecular biology.

As an example, the University of Connecticut offers a Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering (UConn). In the case of Clinical Engineering Interns, students have the option of choosing between Plans A and B.

In addition, UConn Health offers a doctoral program with seven concentrations from which to choose for dissertation research. 

The following are genetics-related questions:

  • Cell Biology
  • Genetics and Developmental Biology
  • Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
  • Systems Biology
  • Immunology

It’s a complicated quantitative approach to analyzing live-cell activities that students in Systems Biology study. In the Richard D. Berlin Center for Cell Analysis and Modeling, students can work on projects in cell modeling, optical imaging (spectroscopy, for example), biophysics, and cell biology. This program is housed here.

In the 2017-18 academic year, colleges and universities awarded 113,794 bachelor’s degrees in biological and biomedical sciences, according to the National Center for Education Statistics’ most recent stats.

There were 371,690 people in business. This disparity is much more pronounced when it comes to master’s degrees. Biosciences were awarded 17,180 degrees in the same period while businesses were awarded 193,184 degrees.


When choosing between a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or doctorate, it is important to take into account the job market.

Diverse fields of study and employment are open to those interested in working in forensics or the pharmaceutical industry. These include human health and animal science. 

With a Bachelor’s degree in Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering, the average pay was $92,620, according to the BLS. A total of 21,200 people worked in this industry in 2019; employment in this profession is projected to expand by 5% over the next decade, until 2029.

Doctoral or professional degree holders in the field of biochemistry and biophysics earned a median pay in 2019 of $94,270. An estimated 1,400 jobs will be added to this group during the next decade, bringing the total number of workers to 34,600.

It’s important to note that bioengineers hold a bachelor’s degree, whereas biochemists hold a doctoral degree in their field. Comparing their degrees, it’s hard to believe they’re earning the same amount of money.

As of 2019, there were 20,200 employees in the field of microbiology, with a ten-year rise or decrease of just 600 posts. Again, these numbers are dependent on having a bachelor’s degree or above.

Detailed pay information for a genetic engineer in 2021:

  • $85,868 – com: ranges from $58,420 to $106,745
  • $90,542 – Glassdoor: based in 64,743 salaries submitted
  • $85,068 – Ziprecruiter: 90th percentile earn $143,000
  • $94,346 – SalaryExpert: 1-3 years experience earn $66,514

Some 30 percent and another 26 percent hold undergraduate degrees, while the rest hold graduate degrees, according to SalaryExpert. According to the aforementioned averages, the pay is $88,956.

There is a Genetics Society of America that provides student memberships for $29 a calendar year for undergraduates and $48 for graduate students that are interested in genetics.

Students can engage in the Early Career Leadership Program, which involves working in teams as part of a scientific community, and as a member of the organization.

American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) offers undergraduate and graduate memberships for $30 and $55 per year, respectively. The American Journal of Human Genetics, career and training tools, and other educational initiatives are all available to members over the Internet.

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