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Animal Geneticist

Position Overview

An animal geneticist studies animal's genetic makeup to determine the genes that cause certain behaviors, attitudes, etc. Sometimes animal geneticists specialize in animal health, determining disease and immune vulnerabilities, which provides an understanding for what environments encourage good health, and what ones may be harmful. They can help improve heritability for advantageous traits, which can improve the animal's overall performance and production. For example, this could relate to a trait in dairy cattle to help them produce more milk each day. Depending on their specialty, animal geneticists will sometimes create breeding programs, analyze pedigrees, and look at population genetics. They often work in a lab, while occasionally visiting different farms to study the animals in person. Animal geneticists should have a science background to effectively understand genes, DNA, and general animal biology. They use several different software programs for research and data collection.

Animal Geneticist Duties

  • Determine genetic trends, developing reports on the findings
  • Provide advice for processes that could improve an animal's genetics
  • Look at an animal's physical characteristics to understand profitable attributes
  • Evaluate different animal traits
  • Consider the crossbreed of animals for the best possible characteristics
  • Map genomes for different species
  • Conduct research for new breeding practices, programs, or processes
  • Look for genes that are resistant to disease
  • Compare genetic makeup of various species

Typical Employers

  • The Genetics Society
  • National Beef Association
  • Animal pharmaceutical companies
  • Animal breeding companies
  • Universities
  • Colleges
  • Government
  • Large scale farming operations
  • Animal nutrition organizations
  • Livestock genetics companies

Required Education and Training

Animal geneticists should have at minimum a bachelor's degree in genetics, animal science, dairy science, or biology. Once this is attained, individuals should go through for a master's or doctorate degree if they wish to have a competitive edge against other candidates. Other useful courses that can be taken while attending a post-secondary institution include: livestock production, reproduction, chemistry, or laboratory science.

Key Skills and Qualities

  • Strong technical and computer knowledge
  • Ability to use laboratory equipment
  • Genuine interest in genetics
  • Strong communication skills
  • Ability to analyze large amounts of data
  • Excellent problem solver
  • Out-of-the-box thinker
  • Good time management skills

Average Salary

The average salary for an animal geneticist is about £50,000. Salaries can range from £30,500 to £102,000. Those with only a bachelor's degree would have a challenging time finding a job in this field. The individuals that do would likely experience a salary in the lower range. On the other hand, animal geneticists with a doctorate degree and some experience in the field would likely experience a salary in the higher range.