A genetic engineer conducts experiments and research using the genetic code of many species, including plants, animals and humans. This research is used to create a variety of products, from medicine that fights disease better to crops that have longer shelf lives. The average salary of a genetic engineer varies with his years of experience and level of education.
Three degrees are necessary to become a genetic engineer: a bachelor's degree in the sciences, such as chemistry or biology, a master's degree with increased focus in microbiology, genetics or biochemistry and a doctoral-level degree in biological science with a focus on genetic research and development. The total time needed to complete your education from undergraduate to graduate school all the way through your doctoral work can be more than 10 years.
Nature of the Work
According to the National Human Genome Research Institute, genetic engineers work primarily in laboratory settings as members of larger research teams conducting scientific experiments related to genetics. According to State University's website, genetic engineers primarily work 35 to 40 hours per week, although they sometimes work longer hours to complete time-sensitive projects. Genetic engineers are usually considered salaried employees, so the hours worked are more a measure of how much time is devoted to the job as opposed to pay.
Areas of Employment
A genetic engineer can find employment in many industries, including pharmaceuticals, food science and biotechnology. These industries use genetic engineering to create products that assist the immune system in fighting viruses, to manipulate the genetic code of plants to make more blight-resistant crops and to create surgical augmentations that are more easily integrated into the human body.
The salary of a genetic engineer is largely dependent on his years of experience and level of education. As of December 2010, genetic lab assistants with only a bachelor's degree in a biological science earn the low end of the annual salary range at $44,320, while a genetic engineer with a doctorate in the field earns the highest annual salary at $139,440. As of December 2010, the National Human Genome Research Institute states the average income of a genetic engineer in all fields is $82,840.