Genetic Counselor  What They Do

Just the Facts


Genetic Counselors Career Video



Assesses individual or family risk for a variety of inherited conditions, such as genetic disorders and birth defects. Provides information to other healthcare providers or to individuals and families concerned with the risk of inherited conditions. Advises individuals and families to support informed decision making and coping methods for those at risk. May help conduct research related to genetic conditions or genetic counseling.

This career is part of the Health Science cluster Therapeutic Services pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Interprets laboratory results and communicates findings to patients or physicians.
  • Analyzes genetic information to identify patients or families at risk for specific disorders or syndromes.
  • Discusses testing options and the associated risks, benefits and limitations with patients and families to assist them in making informed decisions.
  • Provides counseling to patient and family members by providing information, education, or reassurance.
  • Writes detailed consultation reports to provide information on complex genetic concepts to patients or referring physicians.
  • Provides genetic counseling in specified areas of clinical genetics such as obstetrics, pediatrics, oncology and neurology.
  • Determines or coordinates treatment plans by requesting laboratory services, reviewing genetics or counseling literature, and considering histories or diagnostic data.
  • Interviews patients or reviews medical records to obtain comprehensive patient or family medical histories, and document findings.
  • Assesses patients' psychological or emotional needs such as those relating to stress, fear of test results, financial issues, and marital conflicts to make referral recommendations or assist patients in managing test outcomes.
  • Provides patients with information about the inheritance of conditions such as breast, ovarian, prostate and colon cancer; cardiovascular disease; Alzheimer's disease; and diabetes.

Insider Info

Dig into the details and check out what people in this job have to say about their work.



Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would sit most of the time. There's some walking and standing. You may have to lift and carry things like books, papers or tools weighing 10 lbs. or less.
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves sitting more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Regular working hours and limited travel

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Cancer Genetic Counselor -- Explains the biology and genetics of inherited cancer.
  • Mitochondrial Disorders Counselor -- Does testing to identify the disorder that causes a patient's mitochondria to malfunction or stop working altogether, and helps the family cope with the diagnosis.
  • Chromosomal Disorders Counselor --