Neuropsychologist: Education and Career Information
The human brain is very unique. Understanding how it plays a role in how people act – emotionally, socially and physically takes a specialized role. The person that works to assess these elements is called a neuropsychologist. The brain is very complex, and getting a firm grasp on how disorders alter behavior is an interesting concept to some. This is a very lucrative position that requires a vast educational background, but for the right person, this will be a rewarding career.
What does a Neuropsychologist do?
Neuropsychologists are also called the following:
They work to evaluate and treat individuals who have different types of nervous system disorders. They work with neurologists and doctors to help understand how injuries, illnesses and diseases that occur in the brain affect the way someone behaves, thinks and feels. Their specialty includes symptoms like mood disturbances, memory difficulties, learning difficulties and nervous system dysfunction. Neuropsychologists help to diagnose these conditions and assist with the assessment.
They help evaluate strokes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, learning disabilities and traumatic brain injuries. They conduct in-depth evaluations, administer different types of tests, and conduct brain scans to come up with viable results to match and compare to others in developing an effective treatment plan. You can find neuropsychologists working in hospitals and other medical facilities. They also work in governmental agencies or research facilities to assist in putting together educational information for the medical community and community-at-large.
How much does a neuropsychologist earn?
A neuropsychologist earns on average, a median salary of about $96,000 annually. This number is increased based on experience, education and location of the position. The job growth outlook for this position is promising, as the field for psychologists is estimated to grow 19% through 2024. In Arizona, this position averages about $101,100 annually. Neuropsychologist that work in the social sector earn about $100,760 per year.
What types of skills are needed to become a neuropsychologist?
There are a number of skills needed to be successful as a neuropsychologist:
Reading comprehension: This role should be able to read clearly for comprehension and apply the information learned to assist with decision making.
Critical thinking: A neuropsychologist should be able to use logic and reasoning to identify areas of strength and weakness, considering alternative solutions and approaches to problems they encounter.
Complex Problem Solving: A neuropsychologist must be able identify complex problems and assess them based on related information gathered to fully develop and evaluate options to implement solutions.
Speaking: A neuropsychologist should be able to speak with a number of audiences and individuals with clarity and knowledge. They should be able to convey information to these audiences in an effective manner.
Active learning: A neuropsychologist is always learning new information and should operate with an open mind. This is very effective when conducting research.
Systems Analysis and Evaluation: A neuropsychologist should be able to work with other medical professionals in the evaluation and analysis of current systems and protocols to make sure all indicators and measures being used are correct and relative to the topic at the time.
Neuropsychologists must have a deep understanding of psychology, therapy and counseling in order to be successful. They must also have a background in biology, philosophy and theology to operate effectively and efficiently in this role.
Neuropsychologists have a number of years in residency, beyond the initial internship requirements of their undergraduate program. Hours required vary, but clinical practice is mandatory. Experience is needed in this field to gain licensure and operate as a neuropsychologist. Additional clinical hours are needed at the master’s and doctoral levels.
In order to pursue a career as a neuropsychologist, a student will have to commit themselves to years of educational study. This begins with a four-year bachelor’s degree program. The program must be accredited. Individuals seeking a career in this field usually study biology, psychology, pre-medicine, neuroscience or a field that is closely related. It is important to note that in order to become a neuropsychologist, a master’s and doctoral degree is required.
After obtaining the bachelor’s degree, the student must prepare to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) to be accepted into the master’s program. Once the student has entered the master’s degree program, they will study foundational coursework in experimental psychology and statistics. They will also begin an in-depth study of behavioral, memory and learning brain processes.
After completing the graduate program, the student must prepare to enter a doctoral program to study neuropsychology or clinical neuropsychology. If the doctoral degree is earned in clinical psychology, the student should also enter into a postdoctoral certificate program in neuropsychology. The doctoral program is very challenging, and students usually complete an additional three to seven years of formal education. Throughout those years, students gain experience in learning how to administer and evaluate standardized tests dealing with brain dysfunction, causes of neurological disorders, neurodiagnostic techniques, and principles of neuroscience. A number of practicums and an additional internship under a practicing neuropsychologist is required, in addition to the completion and presentation of a doctoral dissertation.
To practice in the field, a license is needed. Minimal requirements to obtain this license include a doctoral degree in psychology, a completed internship and two or more years of clinical experience. Individuals who receive their license should also seek professional certification from the American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology (ABCN). This will provide validation to your work and credentials in the field, opening more doors of opportunity. In order to obtain this certification, candidates must have a doctoral degree, have completed an APA-accredited internship or equivalent years of supervised experience, pass both the written and oral examinations, and be licensed to practice.
Although there are a number of years of education involved in becoming a neuropsychologist, it is a very lucrative and rewarding career. For those who are very interested in the world of psychology, majoring in this specialized area will be a welcome addition.