In Embryology, Your Job is Family

January 23, 2014

The embryology career path is a rewarding one; In simple terms you are helping to create families. The use of In vitro fertilization (IVF) at fertility clinics has been responsible for more than 200,000 babies since its introduction to the US in 1981. As a branch of medical science, the industry has also seen remarkable advancements. New techniques and procedures have resulted in more cost effective methods of treating infertility as well as more successful treatments.

Embryologists (or Embryology Technologists) work alongside doctors and oversee most of the fertilization process. Some embryologists are asked not only to be technicians, but also to work directly with patients providing support and comfort.

Micromanipulation, a key skill in IVF labs.

As an embryologist, you play a major role in a couple's efforts to start a family. You'll share in their successes and disappointments, similar to other positions in the medical field. The successes you'll encounter, however, do not result simply in one person getting well. Rather they result in a new life being brought into the world. It's not uncommon for mothers and fathers to blog about you and your (collective) progress, and one day they may even introduce you to the children that you helped create.

Education and Training

Embryologists come from a variety of backgrounds. Many of them have an interest or background in biology. Some transition from a lab tech background while others go through comprehensive embryologist training programs.

The training programs often include general medical courses like Anatomy and Physiology and Patient Care, as well as more specialized courses. Students will be trained to use tools and equipment that are small and precise enough to inject sperm into eggs or biopsy embryos. Freezing techniques such as vitrification, which is used to preserve gametes, is another skill set that embryology students will gain.

US Army medical lab tech at work

In the IVF lab, there's a high degree of data collection and observation that needs to take place. The procedures you'll take part in are delicate, so any possible deviations in practice could affect the patients' outcome. The doctor who works with the lab, as well as the patient, will expect the highest degree of attention to detail. It is rare, but occasionally IVF clinics have swapped clients' samples, leading to couples impregnated with the wrong fertilized egg; this kind of misstep has, understandably, led to legal recourse. The responsibility that goes with the position, however, tends to be well-rewarded.


SimplyHired reports that the average salary for an embryologist is about $51,000. With a strong background in the field and an advanced degree, embryologists can move on to lab directorship positions, which can start at around $100,000 per year, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Labs on the east and west coasts of the US typically offer higher salaries.

The field of fertility is rewarding in a number of ways. With determination and focus, those who aspire to start careers in fertility are sure to find a deep sense of fulfillment and accomplishment.