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What college courses do i need to take to become a genetic engineer?

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I’m looking to become a genetic engineer in plants. I am only in 9th grade but already planning for college and am trying to figure out how to achieve my goal. Any help would be useful, Thanks. #college #genetic #college #geneticengineer #biology #stem

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Jason’s Answer

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Hi Jack!

In becoming a genetic engineer, you'll need to develop a solid understanding of the fundamentals of biology and chemistry. As such, continue with your school work and pay special attention to your biology and chemistry courses. They might not talk about genetic engineering specifically but they do provide the basic framework and understanding for you to dive deeper into the topics that will lead you to genetic engineering.

I would also try to develop some experiences in horticulture and plants in general. Try working at a local nursery! Most schools that I know of do not have a nursery but I'm almost certain that your local town or city has a few. Their employees not necessarily have the background or expertise that will teach you about genetic engineering in plants but the nursery should have books and other materials that can teach you more about that topic. Just as importantly and just like learning about biology and chemistry in school, you can learn about the fundamentals of raising and sustaining plants. Different plants thrive in different environmental conditions. Some like direct light while others like indirect light. Temperature, humidity, soil acidity, amount of sunlight, amount of water drainage, water & soil nutrients are some of the factors that go into helping a plant thrive. You'll need to know about those qualities at some point if you want to mix and match genetic material between plants while helping them grow up and thrive.

As for higher education, you can certainly begin by looking into schools that specialize in horticulture and bioengineering. It might be difficult but it's possible for schools to specialize in genetic engineering for plants. I don't think you'll find an entire university devoted to genetic engineering for plants but you will find departments and schools (within the university) that will tackle these projects. More likely than not, you'll find small research projects that work on genetic engineering for plants.

Lastly, I would look into the following companies since they completely or partially work in the field of genetic engineering for plants:
- Monsanto (seeds and genomics)
- Dow Chemical Company (they do all sorts of stuff)
- Evogene Ltd. (agricultural genomics)
- Syngenta (seed and chemical supplier)
- Agrium (retail fertilizer supplier)
- American Vanguard (herbicide and insecticide producer)
- CF Industries Holdings (fertilizer)

There are a lot more companies out there who can provide more information about how to get started in the field.

Best of luck to you!
Thank you! Jack F. Translate
Jason's answer is excellent! Cheryl Haller Translate
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Cheryl’s Answer

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Focus on taking a fair number of high school core science and math classes, and also take AP or IB when available, but be careful not to take on too much. You may want to dual enroll at your community college junior or senior year if AP's or IB's are not available at your school. There are also plenty of college camps out there that you may want to participate in, especially if you can find one that is specific to plant science. Last, because of your interest in plant genetics, you may want to pursue an early internship. The job may not be glamorous, such as cleaning up a lab, but it gives you exposure to your field of interest. Last, you can work independently on projects of interest. Covid has many of us working virtually, so do the same. Do some research, independent learning, experimenting...have fun doing what you love!
Thank you! Jack F. Translate
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David’s Answer

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To become a genetic engineer, the bare minimum education requirement will be a bachelor's degree in biochemistry, biophysics, molecular biology, or molecular genetics. However, in most cases it will be much more beneficial to have a master's or doctorate level degree in molecular genetics or molecular biology instead. Genetic engineering is the process of rearranging DNA fragments to add or take away elements from an organism's genetic makeup, or to move DNA from one species to another. The field is a specialization in biomedical engineering that can take four to eight years to master. A genetic engineer can work in both private and public sectors. Genetic engineering graduates are required in government as well as private organizations. ... With the increasing number of biotech firms in India, the future scope in genetic engineering is good. The graduates of this field can also opt teaching as a career. The full salary range is $34,590 - $124,760 annually, depending partly on location and type of employment. However, the National Human Genome Research Institute reports the median income for environmental geneticists specifically as $58,660 annually.
Thank you! Jack F. Translate
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Rachel’s Answer

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AP calculus, bio, chem, and physics are all excellent preparation for the college courses you will need to take. If you have seen this information before, you will have a better chance of getting an A in the class in college.
Thank you! Jack F. Translate
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Jaye’s Answer

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Hi Jack,
It’s great that you are passionate and excited about plant genetics. Definitely continue to focus on STEM classes as much as you can in high school.
In college you may consider majoring in agricultural engineering, biological engineering, or plant science. You can often search “a major+Recommended academic plan” on Google (I.e. Agricultural engineering major recommended academic plan) to see what classes are required for the degree.
Another company of interest may be Bayer Crop Science or Cargill.
Many of the companies mentioned above may also have student outreach programs scholarships that you can apply to for college tuition.
Thank you! Jack F. Translate
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