Fascinated by heredity? A major in genetics might be the right choice for you. Genetics is the study of inheritance and variation in all living organisms and viruses. A genetics major provides the knowledge base necessary for many specializations in biology.
The major begins with establishing a strong foundation in math and the sciences. Chemistry, biochemistry, and biology, as well as courses in calculus and statistics, are generally required. For this reason, it can be helpful for students interested in this major to take four years of math and science, particularly biology, chemistry, physics, calculus, and any computer science classes offered, while still in high school.
A genetics program is typically taught in a combination of research, lecture, and lab work. In comparison to other major programs, genetics is very research-oriented, so if you do not enjoy research, this is likely the wrong major.
More specialized courses in the major may include cytology (the study of the structure and function of plant and animal cells), microbial genetics, human genetics, genetic data analysis, and behavioral genetics. Regardless of the specific courses, students will leave the major with a strong understanding of genetics and many critical skills.
Because the program emphasizes research, students will become comfortable with designing and conducting experiments, analyzing data, and coming to conclusions. They will gain problem-solving skills and effective communication skills, achieve proficiency in math, and gain a deep understanding of the sciences, not just conceptually but practically.
The major is a good starting point for students heading to medical or veterinary school, and it provides a strong foundation for those who wish to pursue a graduate degree in biology.
While there are many jobs that require further study, there are also a wide variety of job opportunities that do not require graduate school or medical school. For example, for those who are interested in writing, students can become science writers. Science writers write and edit science-related news for journals or for professional, trade, or business publications.
Students who loved their time in the lab could become a lab bench scientist or a lab manager. Bench scientists conduct experiments to contribute to research and development. Lab managers establish standards for proper medical laboratory
equipment. They also oversee staff, operations, and equipment, ensuring that everything is held to a degree of order. A managing job would be appropriate for students with strong communication skills who are adept leaders.
Students who are interested in sales may find jobs as representative for a biotechnological company. Overall, the biotech industry is growing, and multiple types of biology-related jobs will be found there. All companies selling products need sales representatives, and it is particularly important for biotech companies to have sales representatives who understand not just the product but the field surrounding it. Since a major in genetics is a foundation for most biological sciences, genetics majors can easily go into this role.
Of course, there are other jobs in the biotechnological industry, such as managers and executives, which do not require a graduate degree. There are also specialized research roles in that industry that do require graduate degrees.