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Careers in genetics


With a degree in genetics, you will enter the workforce with a wide range of marketable skills for employment in biologically-based industries, research organisations, and government departments.

Many genetics graduates work in research environments using the knowledge and lab skills gained from their BSc. Others choose to further their career opportunities by studying for a PhD or MSc.

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Research career options for genetics graduates

Animal breeding

Research into animal breeding could involve finding out which genes are responsible for certain traits, like the recent discovery by Otago scientists of the Booroola gene—responsible for the high incidence of twins in an experimental sheep flock.

It could also mean concentrating on something like wool quality, milk quality, or natural resistance to disease. This type of research is essential for the continued success of New Zealand's agricultural sector.


Biotechnology is an area where research is turned to practical applications. There will be a great demand for suitably qualified people in future years to fill positions in new biotechnological industries.

These will include the food and drink, and pharmaceutical industries.

Human genetics

Human genetics is an area that has become very exciting in recent years, with the advances in molecular biology techniques and the completion of the Human Genome Project.

You could be involved in researching the identification and treatment of genetic diseases.

Plant breeding

Plant breeding could involve working in the horticulture industry to find out how to make better, disease resistant, more fruitful plants. Or you could work in viticulture, discovering how to make finer wine.

You might also contribute to the understanding of colour and pattern variation in flowers.

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Non-research career options for genetics graduates

You won't necessarily end up in a laboratory! Genetics graduates can take up positions in such diverse specialities as:

  • Forensic science
  • Genetic counselling
  • Journalism
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Museums
  • Patent law
  • Policy analysis
  • Sales
  • Scientific publishing
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