If you're searching for potential neuroscience careers, you can look forward to joining one of today's hottest and most diverse professions.
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If you're searching for potential neuroscience careers, you can look forward to joining one of today's hottest and most diverse professions.

A Neuroscientist's Duties and Skills

Neuroscience involves extensive brain research in laboratories and the analysis of a wide range of data from electrical or electro-magnetic to mathematics or physiological. Neuroscientists work toward understanding how the human brain functions. They also work to prevent or cure psychiatric disorders and neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's. 

The ability to approach problems in an innovative manner, work collaboratively, write and present work to colleagues, and conduct research are all essential skills for career success as a neuroscientist. It is also often helpful to have an aptitude for electronics and computing.

A Variety of Neuroscience Careers

The term "neuroscientist" is used broadly to describe one who works in this field, but many of these scientists pursue a career in a specialized area of neuroscience.

Some specialty areas involve the study of the nervous system or brain themselves, while others involve the study of how the system and brain interact with external or internal factors.

  • Behavioral/cognitive neuroscientist— studies functions such as perception, learning, and memory
  • Clinical neuroscientist— applies research to prevent and treat neurological disorders
  • Developmental neuroscientist— studies how the brain grows and changes
  • Neuroanatomist— studies the nervous system's anatomy
  • Neurobiologist— studies the nervous system's biology
  • Neurochemist— studies the nervous system's chemistry
  • Neuropathologist— studies nervous system diseases
  • Neuropharmacologist— studies how different medicines affect the nervous system or behavior
  • Neurophysiologist— studies the composition of the nervous system
  • Neuropsychologist— studies relationships between the brain and behavior
  • Neurosurgeon— performs surgery on the nervous system

Finding Neuroscience Jobs

Government agencies, universities, industry, hospitals, and medical centers can all be potential settings for neuroscience jobs.

Private research foundations, government laboratories, and regulatory agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), all have research and administrative positions for neuroscientists. Universities offer teaching and brain research opportunities.

Industries such as pharmaceutical, chemical, biotechnology, and medical instruments provide jobs as researchers or leaders of research teams—often paying better than comparable government positions. In an industrial setting, neuroscientists have the opportunity to research and develop new products without having additional teaching responsibilities.

Salary ranges for neuroscience careers vary due to the different types of work you can do and the different types of employers you might work for. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics offers basic salary information about neuroscience jobs in its Occupational Outlook Handbook.

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