Genetic technologists study chromosomes and their relationships to disease
in humans, plants and animals. Chromosomes are the threadlike structures that
carry genetic information in the form of genes. They are usually found in
a cell's nucleus.
Genetic technologists prepare and process specimens for genetic analysis.
These tests are used to study, diagnose and treat a variety of diseases. For
example, genetic technologists can conduct studies to find out if someone
has chromosome abnormalities that lead to tumors or to disorders such as Down
Genetic technologists can also diagnose whether a person is a carrier of
a genetic disease. A carrier of a disease is someone who is healthy and doesn't
exhibit any of the traits of a genetic disorder, but has the potential to
pass that disorder on to their children.
One subgroup of genetic technologists is called cytogenetic technologists.
They must have a background in biology. They also need a broad knowledge of
medicine. Cytogenetics simply means the study of genetics in relation to the
structure and function of a cell.
Another type of genetic technology is DNA or molecular technology. These
technologists look for gene abnormalities, as opposed to whole chromosome
Genetic technology is done in clinical and research laboratories at universities
and in the private sector.
Some labs operate 24 hours and have specimens that need to be monitored.
That means a genetic technologist may be required to work in the evenings,
on weekends or on rotating night shifts.
Technologists work in labs. They may be exposed to hazardous chemicals
and infectious agents. In addition, prolonged hours at the microscope can
cause eyestrain. Although physically challenged people may be able to find
work in this field, some lab techs can spend long hours on their feet.
Study the relationship of chromosomes and disease