A behavioral neuropsychologist is a form of biological psychology and involves applying both principles of biology as well as physiology. Specifically, study focuses on nerves, neurotransmitters, circuitry of the brain, and why these processes seem to affect abnormal human behavior. The study of brain dysfunction can oftentimes lead scientists and doctors to discover the causes and solutions to various medical conditions. Besides physical problems, study of this course also involves understanding environmental and cultural factors, since they can also influence brain activity and attitudes people keep.
Studying this line of psychology can help in the study and treatment of autism, panic attacks, schizophrenia, depression, Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions. There is also new technology coming to light in the way of neuro-imaging techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
What does a Behavioral Neuropsychologist do?
Students studying the behavioral neuropsychology will research subjects like biology, math, cell biology, chemistry and even modern computer programming. Students are not only going to gain medical knowledge, but also work hands-on with experienced faculty members, and this is what the industry expects nowadays—hands on training.
Graduates usually go on to earn their Ph.D. since most positions want a top level degree, though it’s not unheard of for master’s degree graduates to find work. However, non-doctorate degrees will often be limited to work such as a research assistant, or perhaps within pharmacy labs. Some graduates will go on to work with patients in clinics and work one-to-one focusing on treating behavioral disorders. There is also the option of self-employment, educational facilities and within large corporations.
Salary and Career Outlook for Behavioral Neuropsychologists
The estimated salary for this line of work depends on where you work and the subfield. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for behavioral neuropsychologists was over $72,000 annually. However, management members, scientists and technical consultants made more, sometimes up to $102,000 annually. Even among the lowest paying positions, the average salary was still just under $70,000 a year, so this is a high-demand profession with a promising outlook.
Behavioral psychologists can work anywhere there is a need, from elementary schools to clinics or doctor’s offices. Statistically speaking, most workers are self-employed consultants. The overall increase in the field is 12% for the next ten years. The reason being, more attention is being paid to students with drug and mental health problems, not to mention the aging population of baby boomers. The stress of recession is also a contributing factor in an ailing population that seeks help.
People skills are certainly a prerequisite, and that’s regardless of whether you’re in research or working with patients. Your job is partly to observe and interpret how a person behaves and what this behavior indicates regarding their conditions. A lot of this evaluative process will be in interviews, as well as lab testing. Lastly, computer knowledge will set you apart from the competition as computer sciences within psychology is a rising subsection.
This is a great opportunity and a prosperous path for students interested in psychology.