Genetic Counselor Frequently Asked Questions

What do genetic counselors do?

Genetic counselors provide information on medical genetics and counsel individuals and families on genetic disorders.

What is the practice of genetic counseling?

Genetic counselors work with other healthcare professionals to inform and support people who have an inherited risk for genetic disorders, people diagnosed with genetic diseases and the families of children born with birth defects.

How much is the application fee?

The application fee is posted on the licensing information webpage.

How long does the application process take?

The required documentation may take several weeks to receive. Routine applications may be issued within two weeks or 14 days following receipt of all required information. Applications requiring additional background information or review may take longer.

If I have a student-issued transcript, can I send that with my application?

No. All required documentation must be sent directly from the issuing institution to:

Department of Health
Genetic Counselor Credentialing
P.O. Box 47877
Olympia, WA 98504-7877

How do personal data questions affect my application?

A "yes" answer to a personal data question or the existence of a criminal conviction doesn't automatically prohibit the department from issuing a credential. If you answer "yes" on any of the personal data questions or if criminal history appears on a criminal background check, your file will be evaluated on an individual basis. The application now becomes an exception file and the normal application processing time does not apply.

How do I get AIDS/HIV training?

A minimum of four hours of AIDS education and training is required for genetic counselor licensure in Washington State.

You may find Information on the availability of HIV/AIDS courses or the AIDS curriculum on the HIV/AIDS training page on our website.

Should I apply for a provisional license?

You may apply for a provisional license if you meet all the requirements for licensure except passing the exam. Persons with a provisional license may practice under supervision. Specific requirements are included in the Genetic Counselor License Application Packet.

If I'm licensed in another state, can I begin practicing once you have my application?

No. You must have a valid Washington genetic counselor license before practicing as a genetic counselor.

I'm nationally certified, do I need to be licensed in Washington to practice?

Yes. No person may practice or represent himself or herself as a licensed genetic counselor without first applying for and receiving a license to practice from the department.

How many continuing education units am I required to report and when?

To renew a genetic counselor license, you must have 7.5 continuing education units or 75 hours of continuing education (CE) every three years. Genetic counselors must have completed this requirement by their birthday every three years. The continuing education hours must have been obtained during the preceding three years, from birthday to birthday. If you're reporting this year, any CE that was obtained before your birthday three years ago or after your current birthday cannot be used to satisfy the continuing education or employment requirement. The expiration date for all credentials is the practitioner's birthday.

Can I get an extension of time to complete my continuing education?

Extensions may be granted for emergency situations only. It's not advisable to wait until the CE is due to request an extension. If you have exhausted all possibilities for fulfilling your continuing competency requirements and are contemplating requesting an extension, keep in mind that extensions of time to complete continuing competency requirements are only granted for extenuating circumstances. Examples of circumstances that are not considered to be extenuating are:

  • Employer no longer pays for CE/limited personal funds
  • Childcare/pregnancy
  • Living outside the U.S.
  • Course was cancelled - not enough time to find another
  • Working in a state that doesn't require CE
  • Recently divorced
Where do I get information on continuing education classes?

The Department of Health doesn't provide information about continuing education courses. It's your responsibility to find courses that meet the requirements of the genetic counselor rule. (WAC 246-825-110 Continuing education). You may view the laws relating to genetic counselors on our website.

What happens if I'm audited?

The Department of Health audits a percentage of all licensed genetic counselors to ensure compliance with the continuing competency requirements. If audited, you'll be required to provide:

  • Certificates indicating the date, number of contact hours awarded, program title and participant's name


  • An original letter on official stationary from the continuing education program's sponsor indicating the date, number of contact hours awarded, program title and participant's name.
What is the process for verifying my Washington genetic counselor license to another jurisdiction?

Submit a written request and a check or money order along with the certification of licensure fee made payable to:

Department of Health
Genetic Counselor Program
P.O. Box 1099
Olympia, WA 98507-1099

How much is my renewal fee?

Fee information is located on the genetic counselors licensing page.

You must renew on or before your birthday; if you renew after your birth date, you must pay the renewal fee plus the late renewal penalty fee. Late penalty fees aren't waived.

How long does the renewal process take?

Renewal notices are mailed six to eight weeks before your license expiration date to allow enough time to process. It's important to remit payment immediately to ensure that your license will be delivered on or before your license expiration date. It's against the law to work without a current license. More information about our renewal process is available on our website.

How can I be involved and stay informed?

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