Neuropsychologists specialize in cognitive psychology and science. Neuropsychology resembles forensic and clinical psychology.
Neuropsychologist Job Description
The following are typical responsibilities of neuropsychologists:
- Assessing and assisting people recovering from strokes
- Administering brain scans and other neurocognitive tests
- Consulting with pharmaceutical companies that develop drugs affecting the central nervous system
- Providing expert testimony during court trials
Neuropsychologists also conduct research to determine the link between behavior and the brain. To determine this link, they utilize lab animals and evaluate people.
Where Neuropsychologists Work
- Clinical (Private or Professional) – diagnose and treat individuals suffering from neuropsychological problems. Some neuropsychologists can work privately or work in-house for corporations, the government, or research companies
- Hospitals, rehabilitation centers, clinics – clinical neuropsychologists work with medical doctors and other health care practitioners to diagnose and treat individuals
- Academic – conduct research at universities, laboratories, or research institutes
- Industrial – function as product design consultants
- Forensic or legal – serve as forensic consultants
- Pharmaceutical settings – advise and consult on the development of drugs that could affect central nervous system function
Most Common Neuropsychologist Careers
Clinical neuropsychologists work with other professionals to address brain dysfunction, disorders, damage, or disease in individual patients. According to the APA, “Clinical neuropsychologists address neurobehavioral problems related to acquired or developmental disorders of the nervous system.”
Clinical neuropsychologists focus on conditions such as neurodegenerative disorders (e.g. Parkinson’s disease), dementia, traumatic brain injury, seizure disorders, neuropsychiatric disorders, vascular disorders, diseases of the central nervous system, neurodevelopmental disorders, neurological effects of medical disorders or treatment, and metabolic disease.
Clinical Pediatric Neuropsychologist
Clinical neuropsychologists can also focus on neuropsychology as it relates specifically to children. These individuals are called Pediatric Neuropsychologist. This typically involves working with children and youth to evaluate and treat abnormal neurological development.
Neuropsychology researchers do not typically interact with patients. Instead, the research performed by neuropsychologists and neuroscientists helps psychologists and health care professionals better understand how, why, and to what extent brain dysfunction occurs.
Their research findings are instrumental in teaching psychologists and healthcare professionals know better how to address and treat an array of brain disorders and diseases.
Neuropsychologists Professors and teachers are interested in the academic research surrounding the brain and have a desire to teach it to students. To stay current with new research, neuropsychology professors are often required by their employing university to perform their own research for industry publication.
Neuropsychology professors must have a doctorate in neuropsychology and complete an assistant professorship and fellowships before becoming a full-time professor.
Most universities administering neuropsychology graduate degree programs prefer to admit applicants with undergraduate degrees in pre-med, psychology, or biology.
While some currently practicing neuropsychologists only hold master’s degrees, that standard is being raised. Clinical neuropsychologists are required to have a doctorate degree in neuropsychology or clinical neuropsychology.
How Long Does It Take To Become a Neuropsychologist?
It takes between 3-7 years to complete a doctorate program in neuropsychology. Most students also complete supervised internships.
Prior Work Experience Needed
Most organizations that hire neuropsychologists seek candidates with applicable work experience, which includes any of the following:
- Supervised internships where students perform relevant duties such as brain scans
- Working on a research team conducting drug tests
- Teaching a neuropsychology course as a graduate student
Neuropsychologist Career Advancement
Neuropsychologists typically advance in their careers after establishing a large client-base or receiving research grants. Many get promoted to organize and lead research projects at universities.
Neuropsychologists can enhance their opportunities by certifying with the American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology (ABCN) or the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology (AACN).
To become certified, these organizations require candidates to:
- Satisfy training requirements
- Pass an oral and written test
- Successfully complete a work evaluation sponsored by either organization
Neuropsychologists practicing privately are required to satisfy licensing requirements in the state where they reside.
Related Associations and Groups
Contact the following organizations for additional information about neuropsychology careers:
- American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology
- American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology
- American Psychological Association (APA), Division 40 (official neuropsychology psychology subgroup)
- Association for Women in Psychology
- Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards
- National Academy of Neuropsychology (NAN)
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