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Why Certification Is Important

  • Certification (the CGC credential) is recognized by employers, licensing boards and the public.
  • Most employers—including hospitals, clinics, and laboratories—require their genetic counselors to be certified.
  • In states that require genetic counselors have a license to practice, the CGC credential is an essential component for obtaining a license.

To become a Certified Genetic Counselor (CGC) a genetic counselor must pass the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC). The CGC credential indicates that a genetic counselor has met the standards for providing competent genetic counseling and is another recommended step to becoming a genetic counselor. While not required everywhere, the certification demonstrates that the individual has met the standards necessary to provide competent genetic counseling.

To become ABGC-certified, a genetic counselor must:

  • Obtain a master’s degree in genetic counseling from one of the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling (ACGC) accredited programs in the United States and Canada
  • Take and pass a rigorous certification exam

Because medicine is constantly advancing, genetic counselors who received their initial certification in 1996 or later must recertify every five or 10 years, depending on when they were certified. There are two ways genetic counselors can recertify: either by taking the certification exam, or by completing a specific amount of continuing education units (CEUs) and/or professional activity credits (PACs).

While certification is a voluntary process for ensuring that health professionals remain up to date in the field, the majority of employers and most hospitals and clinics insist their genetic counselors be ABGC-certified. In states where genetic counselors are licensed, all genetic counselors with licensure must be ABGC-certified.