Embryologists study the development of embryos. Their duties and responsibilities include collecting eggs from patients at the right time of the cycle, inseminating them and checking whether they have been fertilised.

They assess the quality of the embryo by grading it and monitoring its development. The embryo is then transferred back into the patient. Specialised techniques are used to identify the eggs and to perform the entire procedure.

Other areas of specialisation that embryologists could work in include semenology (analysing and preparing semen or sperm for therapeutic use and auditing and maintaining sperm banks; cryopreservation (the use of liquid nitrogen to freeze and preserve eggs, embryos, semen, as well as testicular and ovarian tissue).

Embryologists are responsible for ensuring that all equipment is well maintained to operate efficiently, including monitoring laboratory stock levels and ordering consumable items. They also check that all consent forms from patients are properly completed and checked before they carry out any procedures, and keep precise records of the procedures. They work with a highly skilled team of other medical professionals from various medical fields.

Embryologists work in a clean, hygienic working environment, predominantly in laboratories and operating theatres.

Personal Requirements

  • able to communicate effectively, both written and verbal
  • self-motivated and dedicated
  • able to work under pressure
  • have excellent people skills
  • pay attention to detail
  • scientifically and technically minded
  • able to work as part of a team
  • ability to solve problems
  • research orientated
  • meticulous administration skills, especially record-keeping
  • sympathetic and extremely ethical

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics, Physical Science 
Recommended subjects: Life Sciences

  • Pass matric with a Bachelor's pass
  • Meet the admission requirements (APS) set by the university
  • All applications for admission to MBChB and Medical degrees are subject to selection.
  • Due to the limited number of spaces available, only a small percentage of applicants are admitted.

What to Study

MBChB degree at UP, UCT, UFS, Wits, US, UL, UKZN, WSU.

  • Theoretical training: 6 years
  • Student internship: 1 year
  • Practical work at a hospital: 1 year (also known as the house doctor year).
Post-graduate study for specialisation as an embryologist: 4 years.

Additional Requirements: before commencing post-graduate study for specialisation as an embryologist, the candidate must:
  • be in possession of a MBChB degree for 2 years
  • be registered as a medical doctor with the Health Professions Council  of South Africa for 1 year.
Registration: On successful completion of the examination to qualify as a specialist, the candidate must register with the HPCSA as an embryologist.


  • private practice
  • hospitals and other health care facilities
  • medical schools
  • research institutions

Further Information

Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) 
(553) of Hamilton and
Madiba Streets,
Arcadia, Pretoria
Tel: (012) 338-9300

Getting Started

  • obtain information on the work embryologists do
  • speak to an embryologist about this career

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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