Careers in Neuroscience: What to Do With Your Degree

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neuroscienceNeuroscience is the study of the nervous system. Some of the fields that you would work in with a neuroscience degree will have to do with the brain and how it affects what people do and how they think. Some neuroscience fields work with diagnosing and treating disorders. The following careers will help you decide which one is right for you once you’ve completed a neuroscience degree program.

1. Neuropsychology

Neuropsychology is a subfield of psychology. People in this line of work focus on how the brain affects behavior. They may assess the brain and behavior connection, diagnose any disorders, recommend treatments and help people with rehabilitation.

Is It Right for You?

You should have interest in not only neuroscience, but also psychology. This career combines both disciplines.

You will need to work with people as a neuropsychologist. This means you should have good people skills. You also need excellent research and analytical skills to be able to notice small signs that could identify a disorder. Writing skills are also needed since neuropsychologists often need to write down case notes and some of them publish their research work in well-known neurological journals.

How Much Do Neuropsychologists Earn?

The average salary for neuropsychologists in 2011 was $94,100. Starting salaries for this career range from $77,500 to $80,700. The more experience neuropsychologists have, the more money they usually earn. Those with 15 years of experience can look forward to about $130,600 per year, and people with more than 25 years of experience may end up with an average salary of $185,200.

What Education/Training Is Needed?

Neuropsychologists will need an education in both psychology and neuroscience. Most people start with a bachelor’s degree in psychology or neuroscience. While there are some schools that have neuroscience as a major, some of them do not, so psychology is the best choice. Taking courses having to do with biology, anatomy and chemistry can help students prepare for advance courses in graduate school for neuroscience. A Ph.D. in neuropsychology is required to become a neuropsychologist.

2. Neurological Surgeons

Neurological surgeons work with other doctors to treat problems with the nervous system. This can happen through disorders and injuries. Meeting with patients to discuss treatment options and performing surgeries are the chief responsibilities for these surgeons.

Is It Right for You?

Neurological surgeons need to gather scientific information. They need to understand the physiological processes that have to do with the nervous system. Being able to be analyze and critically think through symptoms are good skills to have along with mechanical abilities.

How Much Do Neurological Surgeons Earn?

According to the Becker’s Hospital Review, neurological surgeons can expect to make approximately $767,627. The reason the salary average is so high is because there aren’t a lot of neurosurgeons available and cases are usually extremely complex.

What Education/Training Is Needed?

To become a neurological surgeon, you will need to seek an undergraduate degree in chemistry, biology, physics, English and calculus. Upon completion of a bachelor’s degree program, aspiring neurological surgeons will attend medical school, which will include residency. The good news is that more than 80 percent of students in medical school will be able to obtain a residency position in a neuroscience department.

3. Neuroimaging Technician

Neuroimaging or medical imaging is creating images to help doctors with diagnosing disorders, illnesses and diseases. Technicians operate the machinery to produce the images. They also review patient records and help maintain the equipment. Some neuroimaging technicians administer drugs to make certain parts of the body show up in the imaging.

Is It Right for You?

Neuroimaging technicians work with physicians to understand what they need from the imaging. They are able to manipulate the angles to capture the best imaging. Technicians must also move patients on the examination table and position them correctly for the best image. Written and verbal communication skills are important and so is the ability to work with physicians and patients. Many neuroimaging technicians work as part of a team, so being able to be a team player is helpful.

How Much Do Neuroimaging Technicians Earn?

Neuroimaging technicians can expect about $29.21 an hour. Pay depends on where the technician lives and where he or she works. Those who live in metropolitan areas and work in hospitals make more than those working in rural areas in private practices do.

What Education/Training Is Needed?

Technicians need to complete education and training to be a radiologic technologist. They then have to be certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (AART).

Licensing requirements vary by state. Most states want applicants to complete an accredited MRI technology program and pass a state exam. After licensure, neuroimaging technicians need to complete continuing education.

Whether you want to be a neuropsychology, neurological surgeon or neuroimaging technician, you will find a rewarding, interesting career in neuroscience. It can be a difficult field of study, but if you love a challenge, it will be perfect for you. As you get into the career, you’ll continue to meet challenges and help people along the way.


About the Author

Sarah Landrum

Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer, blogger, and aspiring world traveler. Sarah is also the founder of Punched Clocks, a site on which she shares advice for young professionals on navigating the work world, and finding happiness and success at work. For more on all things career follow her @SarahLandrum

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