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Genes are instructions which tell the body how to make all the proteins it needs to survive and grow. Genomics is the study of genes and how alterations can lead to changes in how proteins function or are produced by cells.
Training and qualifications required
There are three entry points into genetics (1) with at least two if not three A-levels including science subjects (or equivalent level-3 qualifications) and a good spread of GCSEs at A-C grade to take an accredited BSc degree in healthcare science (genetic science) for the Practitioner Training Programme (PTP); (2) through the NHS Scientist Training Programme for which you’ll need a 1st or 2.1 either in an undergraduate honours degree or an integrated master’s degree in a relevant pure or applied science. If you have a relevant 2.2 honours degree, you’ll also be considered if you have a higher degree in a subject relevant to the specialism for which you are applying. Evidence of research experience is desirable; (3) or after gaining postgraduate qualifications or considerable relevant experience as a clinical scientist through Higher Specialist Scientist Training (HSST) or both.
Expected working hours and salary range
NHS staff will usually work a standard 37.5 hours per week. They may work a shift pattern. Most jobs in the NHS are covered by the Agenda for Change (AfC) pay scales. If you work in healthcare science, specialising in genetics or genomics, your salary will typically be between AfC bands 5 and 9, depending on your precise role and level of responsibility. As a healthcare science practitioner, you’d usually start on band 5, with opportunities to progress to more senior positions. Trainee clinical scientists train at band 6 level, and qualified clinical scientists are generally appointed at band 7. With experience and further qualifications, including Higher Specialist Scientist Training, you could apply for posts up to band 9. Terms and conditions of service can vary for employers outside the NHS.
Desirable skills and values
An interest in science and technology, good communication skills, comfortable using modern technology and complex equipment, great attention to detail and able to work as part of a team.
With further training and/or experience, you may be able to develop your career further and apply for vacancies in areas such as further specialisation, management, research, or teaching.