Embryologist Job Description, Skills, and Salary
Get to know about the duties, responsibilities, qualifications, and skills requirements of an embryologist. Feel free to use our embryologist job description template to produce your own. We also provide you with information about the salary you can earn as an embryologist.
Who is an Embryologist?
Infertility is an increasingly prevalent health concern today globally. Embryology is the branch of science concerned with the study of the fertilization of eggs and the development of embryos. As a clinical scientist working in embryology, you will perform diagnostic services and therapeutic embryological procedures such as in vitro fertilization and intracytoplasmic sperm injection. If you or your loved one is having difficulty conceiving, you may have researched invitro fertilization options. In vitro fertilization commonly referred to as IVF is a process that begins with ovulation induction to stimulate a woman’s ovaries. Next, the eggs are harvested through an ultrasound-guided technique.
Once the eggs have been retrieved, they are fertilized and grown in a laboratory for three to five days before the embryos are transferred into the woman’s uterus or frozen for implantation at a later date. Medical scientists specializing in the study of reproduction are known as embryologists. An embryologist tracks fertilization and embryo development in the embryos. They study embryos in a variety of settings such as fertility clinics, laboratories, commercial industries, and hospitals. Capable of combining research with clinical work, they can either work in a fertility clinic helping those with reproductive issues or they may also work in research labs.
An embryologist plays a critical role in helping couples conceive who are facing challenges in conceiving naturally. Before conducting IVF, they run fertility tests and harvest eggs and sperm. Also, the embryologist provides counseling and advice; and may initially recommend simple treatments to encourage conception. For example, they may recommend monitoring cycles to determine periods of fertility. If simple solutions do not result in conception, the embryologist may conduct fertility testing to determine the source of the problem. The results of the fertility test may point to fertility problems for one or both of the patients. With the results of the fertility test, the embryologist can recommend more aggressive treatments. An embryologist typically works full-time schedules but commonly works irregular hours. Because an embryologist must always be available in a lab to monitor embryo development, they commonly work evening and weekend shifts. However, they may alternate weekend shifts with other embryologists in practice.
Embryologist Job Description
Below are the embryologist job description examples you can use to develop your resume or write an embryologist job description for your employee. Employers can also use it to sieve out job seekers when choosing candidates for interviews.
The duties and responsibilities of an embryologist include the following:
- Research and gather fertilization data: To better understand how fertilization works and the techniques that can be used to make the process simpler and more accessible, an embryologist conducts studies and gathers and analyses data.
- Perform procedures: To assist with family planning and fertilization, the embryologist may harvest, store, and implant various aspects of the fertilization process.
- Develop new techniques: By using studies and other medical or scientific data, an embryologist can develop advanced techniques to assist with fertilization. They may work with medical engineers to develop equipment and tools useful for improving the process.
- Assist with family planning: They can advise their clients on how to plan their families and best practices for increasing fertility and promoting the health of the parents and the baby.
- Collect samples: An embryologist collects and tests samples from their patients or subjects to better understand a person’s ability to undergo fertilization techniques or learn more about human reproduction.
- Egg retrieval: The technical work of an embryologist starts at the egg retrieval stage of fertility treatments. These treatments involve fertilizing an egg in a laboratory environment outside of the body. Before retrieval, a person undergoing an IVF cycle will typically undergo hormone injections to stimulate healthy development.
- Egg fertilization: Once they retrieve egg cells, they usually place them in a laboratory dish with a specially prepared sample of donated sperm. They then monitor the egg and look for signs of fertilization which is the union of an egg and a sperm cell to form an embryo.
- Embryo screening: An embryologist screens embryos for possible genetic diseases before implanting them into the womb.
- Work according to guidelines: To ensure the maximum chances of successful fertilization, there are quality controls that embryologists follow. This can include aspects of their laboratory set-up such as lighting and temperature.
An embryologist specializes in the development of embryos in a laboratory setting. They work in research and fertility treatment. If you wish to pursue a career as an embryologist, you may benefit from understanding the qualifications required to carry out this specialized work.
- Education: To enter embryology, an individual has to complete a bachelor’s degree in biological science followed by a postgraduate qualification preferably in Assisted Reproductive Technology or Embryology or biotechnology. A formalized curriculum for scientists encompassing one or two years of instructive, theoretical, and practical training in embryology is required to become a qualified embryologist.
- Work experience: Experience with reproductive biology and familiarity with hospitals and clinics are important; so try to arrange a visit to a local hospital laboratory before applying. Related experience is useful; investigate the possibility of short-term laboratory work experience in a fertility clinic or assisted conception unit of a large hospital. Voluntary work with patients for example can also be useful. It is good to have a range of life experiences so you can show your range of skills. Mentoring experience is also helpful.
An embryologist’s job involves retrieving eggs from a patient, conducting tests on samples, working with embryos, and retrieving sperm samples from a patient. From the time an egg is retrieved to the time that the embryo is planted into the womb, an embryologist must be responsible for every step of the process. Finally, after a viable embryo is implanted in the womb, they must monitor the pregnancy until a successful delivery is made. Besides the general skills expected of effective biological scientists, here are a few specific key skills a successful embryologist may have;
- Hand-eye coordination: Many of the laboratory procedures embryologists engage in are completed by hand. They may use pipettes and other fine instruments. It may be important for embryologists to have good coordination and dexterity when operating equipment.
- Attention to detail: Embryologists regularly work with microscopic structures looking for signs of successful fertilization and development of embryos. They must have great attention to detail to ensure they carry out their work effectively. Their work involves accurate record-keeping as well. Attention to detail is important when compiling clinical records.
- Communication skills: An embryologist can benefit from effective communication skills. They are often required to take scientific information and convey this to patients using languages they understand. Patients must be fully aware of everything their fertility treatment may involve so they can make informed decisions.
- Technical skills: The work of an embryologist may require specialized laboratory and technical skills unique to the field of science. This is usually the case for embryologists who complete the highly specialized screening of embryos, eggs, or sperm cells for possible genetic diseases.
- Empathy: Embryologists may provide more than technical knowledge and information to those undergoing fertility treatments. By communicating with patients, embryologists can help them put faces to the names of the people in the labs making the entire process less clinical and more human for them. To provide this human benefit for patients, embryologists often practice empathy in the ways they communicate with them.
- Willingness to learn: Learning doesn’t end at graduation for embryologists; great embryologists have a willingness and desire to continue learning throughout their careers. They can advance their career by learning the science behind fertility treatment. This means that an embryologist can benefit from constantly learning new skills and familiarizing themselves with new techniques and technologies.
How to Become an Embryologist
Embryologists are medical scientists or healthcare professionals who focus on studying and improving fertility techniques. If you are passionate about helping others and enjoy science, being an embryologist may be a good career path for you. Learning more about what these professionals do can help you decide whether to pursue this role. You may work with physicians to create comprehensive health care and family planning patient profiles. Some embryologists are doctors but others choose to perform research instead. Therefore, you can follow these steps to become an embryologist;
- Determine if it is the best career for you: The first step to becoming an embryologist is ensuring it is the best career for you. If you are passionate about science, family planning, and caring for others, embryology may be an excellent field for you. Successful embryologists have advanced empathy and patience which they need to provide their patients with the best possible care and they may work long hours with inconsistent schedules. If you prefer to avoid clinical settings, and are interested in a creative career or want a consistent and less rigorous schedule, you may want to pursue a different vocation.
- Pursue a relevant bachelor’s degree: To become an embryologist, you need a bachelor’s degree in a related field. For example, you may pursue a degree in biology, biomedicine, biochemistry, or clinical lab sciences. If you are still in high school, elect to take science classes and study human anatomy to learn more about reproduction. In college, focus on studying and developing relationships with your professors and peers. You need an advanced degree as well; so prepare for graduate school by marinating a high GPA.
- Complete an internship or gain lab experience: While at college, consider completing an internship and gaining lab experience. These experiences can help you build a resume that’s more effective when applying to grad school or other positions. You can also use these opportunities to decide your passions and determine what you would like to specialize in. For instance, by gaining experience in a lab, you may learn that you prefer working directly with patients.
- Decide if you want to work directly with patients: The program you enroll in for grad school depends on your career goals as an embryologist. If you want to work with patients to prescribe hormone treatment, help them plan their families, and perform procedures, you will likely need a medical degree. If you are interested in performing research or developing embryos in a lab, you may pursue an advanced degree in biochemistry, biomedicine, or medical research.
- Pursue a master’s degree, Ph. D., or MD degree: Enroll in a program that suits your career goals and obtain your master’s degree, Ph.D., or doctorate of medicine. The degree you choose and how you pursue an advanced degree depends on your career goals. During the program, you can refine your skills and create your professional network. During graduate or medical school, you can continue to develop your interests or begin a personal research project.
Where to Work as an Embryologist
There are some places where embryologists may work. These include;
- Clinics and private practices: A clinic is the part of the hospital in which patients visit with medical professionals but don’t admit to the hospital. Private practices are health care offices owned and operated by physicians rather than by a hospital board or administrators. If an embryologist pursues a medical degree, they may choose to work in a clinic or private practice. Those with medical licenses may prescribe the hormones and treatments to their patients, collect the materials, monitor the embryos, and perform the procedure themselves.
- Fertility laboratories: Fertility laboratories are the places where embryologists can use reproductive materials to create and develop a healthy embryo. An embryologist in the fertility laboratory receives the materials and information from the doctors and prepares the embryo before IVF. When the embryo is ready, the fertility laboratory transfers it back to the doctor so that they can perform the procedure.
- Clinical laboratories: A clinical laboratory is a research facility in which embryologists strive to collect data about reproductive trends. They use this information to develop strategies for improving fertility. For example, an embryologist in a clinical laboratory may gather information and determine that new hormone treatments can help promote an embryo’s health and increase viable pregnancies. They can prepare clinical testing and develop the hormone into a safe and effective treatment.
Embryologist Salary Scale
How much an embryologist can earn depends on factors such as location, experience, expertise, and whether they choose to focus on research in health care. The average salary for an embryologist is $95,520 per year. In the United Kingdom, a qualified embryologist earns a salary of £40,057 to £45,839 per year.