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Embryologist Duties and Responsibilities

While an embryologist’s day-to-day duties and responsibilities are determined by where they work, there are many core tasks associated with the role. Based on our analysis of job listings, these include:

Perform In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) Procedures Embryologists successfully execute processes such as embryo transfers, egg fertilization, egg retrieval, sperm injection (ICSI), assisting hatching (AH), and sperm preparation. They normally conduct embryology duties in a clinical laboratory setting. Usually under the direction of an embryology lab supervisor, they obtain semen specimens and prepare them for insemination.

Grade Embryos Daily assessment and grading of the health and development of embryos is a major responsibility of embryologists. When they arrive at the office in the morning, many embryologists complete embryo grading as a first priority.

Conduct Sperm Analysis A key part of an embryologist’s role is to perform detailed semen analysis using microscopic methods. Embryologists study sperm count, sperm mobility, and perform anti-sperm antibody testing. They also perform routine sperm preparation for more advanced procedures.

Write Standard Operating Procedures Embryologists stay on top of current developments and strive for continual improvement in laboratory standards, equipment, and success. Their job is to write, review, and improve embryology standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Maintain Quality Control Policies Following laboratory procedures, embryologists collect data and document quality control (QC) activities. Embryologists constantly perform quality assessments (QA) to make sure the specimens they handle maintain the highest quality. They also participate in quality improvement (QI) programs.

Database and Records Management Embryologists maintain records documents and samples to make sure their testing and laboratory work remains consistent. They do in-depth record keeping including IVF paper work, billing, entering data into advanced computer systems, completing laboratory checks, and updating data on lab equipment use.


Embryologist Skills and Qualifications

Embryologists should have a passion for laboratory techniques as well as strong interpersonal skills. A bachelor’s degree and a minimum of three years of IVF experience in a laboratory environment are typically sought out. Employers also prefer candidates with the following abilities:

  • Embryology experience – these scientists perform highly technical embryo biopsy, embryo vitrification, and embryo evaluation to successfully complete their duties
  • Cryopreservation – embryologists must be well versed in using very low temperatures to preserve the embryos and spermatozoa they work with in a laboratory setting
  • Andrology – embryologists specialize in working with male reproductive health (andrology), which includes semen sample preparation, artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, and sperm analysis, all according to World Health Organization (WHO) standards
  • Data entry – embryologists track their research findings by entering data into advanced computer systems
  • Administrative skills – in the office environment, embryologists are occasionally asked to document services, update departmental records, and file clinical documents
  • Medical research – to constantly develop their medical knowledge, embryologists must complete academic research and interpret the most recent advances in medical science
  • Interpersonal skills – embryologists collaborate on teams with physicians, managers, and their peers; communicate verbally and in writing; and compassionately talk with patients in clinical settings
  • Organization skills – the fast-paced environment of an embryology lab demands multitasking and error-free performance even under pressure

Embryologist Education and Training

Embryologists can obtain employment with a bachelor’s degree in biology, human physiology, laboratory science, or animal science. Some states require a clinical laboratory scientist (CLS) license in clinical laboratory science or technology. For advanced positions, employers require a master’s degree in a clinical science-related field. Some employers offer more formal written materials concerning laboratory-specific protocols. Employers that offer junior embryologist positions usually provide hands-on training in all aspects of clinical IVF and andrology.


Embryologist Salary and Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies embryologists as medical scientists and reports a median income of $82,090. The lowest 10 percent earn less than $45,120, while the highest paid earn more than $160,520. Full-time embryologists typical receive a benefits package that includes paid vacation and health insurance. New discoveries in medical research are expected to require the services of medical scientists. Industry employment for embryologists is projected to grow 13 percent through 2026, a rate the BLS describes as faster than average among all occupations. Embryologists will be in high demand because they aid the development of treatments that improve human health.


Helpful Resources

If you’re interested in learning more about the embryologist’s role, check out the additional resources compiled below:

American Embryo Transfer Association – AETA offers scholarships and career events for those studying embryology or working as an embryologist

Association of Clinical Embryologists – this UK-based community of global clinical embryology professionals has over 800 members

International Embryo Technology Society – IETS provides access to the most current research and clinical procedures common to embryology

The Developing Human E-Book: Clinically Oriented Embryology – this easily understandable guide with nearly 600 illustrations was written for medical students and provides a clear, simple view of complex embryology topics

Clinical Embryology: A Practical Guide – this educational guide for clinical embryologists explains proper methods, procedures, and top skills needed to successfully work in embryology