Genetic counsellors must obtain a Master’s degree of genetic counselling. Their prior education typically includes a Bachelor’s degree in a field such as biochemistry, biology, biomedical sciences, microbiology or another related field.
There are currently 4 genetic counselling training programs in Canada:
The Canadian genetic counselling training programs are typically restricted to 4-6 students per year, depending on the program, and generally only accept students in the fall session. There are also a number of genetic counselling training programs in the United States and abroad.
A Master’s degree in Genetic counselling takes 2 years to complete and includes training in various domains including counselling, psychology, ethics, advanced human genetics, human development, genetic epidemiology, and more. The majority of the training is completed via clinical rotations in a medical setting.
Following completion of their training, genetic counsellors entering the work force in Canada may choose to obtain additional certification, awarded by the Canadian Association of Genetic Counsellors (CAGC). This certification is obtained following successful completion of a written exam. Currently, certification is not a requirement to practice as a genetic counsellor but allows for standardizing of the profession across the country as well as ensures a high level of competency for those who obtain it.