The cognitive neuropsychologist studies the science of cognitive psychology and specifically on how the brain relates to various psychological processes. The idea is that the brain’s processes are what produce everything about us, including memories, language, recognition, reasoning ability, and problem solving. The science is particularly concerned with neurological illness and brain injury, as these are a large portion of the cases people deal with in this type of therapy.
Sometimes people affected by brain injuries may have problems understanding words or speaking. The research on this unique aspect of science dates back to the late 1800s. Dr. Broca researched a peculiar case of a man who could only speak one word, but who was responsive to other forms of communication. Similarly, much of your training might involve the study of recurring language, thinking, action, memory, recognition and planning.
What Will You Do as a Cognitive Neuropsychologist?
Graduates will often work on research assignments, especially since this profession tends to be more scientific-minded than merely counseling or behavioral therapy. You will help others research, conduct empirical studies, and will do these types of activities more often than hands-on treatment with patients. A cognitive psychologist may work as a doctor, researcher, teacher, or consultant. There are also subfields in neurogenetics, neuropathology, forensics, dementia and rehabilitation. Much of your work will be in researching cognition and specializing in one particular aspect, such as memory or disability.
Depending on where you work, you will notice changes in income and work duties. Research facilities may be governmental, while universities may want to hire you for teaching positions. Sometimes universities even have faculty psychologists on hand to assist with their own needs and curriculums. Another option is working inside a clinic or hospital and working directly with patients. You may even be called to testify in court as an expert witness.
Educational Requirements and Salary
Most serious applicants have a Ph.D., though sometimes you can find a position with only a bachelor’s degree. However, for the most part, a bachelor’s degree is a stepping stone for a master’s and a doctorate-level degree. The job also requires using your people skills and having compassion for others, as much of the work involves helping people overcome learning disabilities. You will help individuals uncover new methods to help improve their brain function, which could be linguistic, social or educational in nature.
Salaries for a cognitive neuropsychologist depend largely on experience, as well as location. The average annual salary for specialist doctors is just over $86,000. University professors earned $74,000 annually while researchers and physicians with their own office made considerably more, at over $100,000 per year.
If you dream about a meaningful career that also pays well, a cognitive neuropsychologist is a rewarding path and one that will keep you intellectually motivated, just as it would warm your heart to help others cure their lifelong problems. You can start learning at the bachelor’s degree level and work your way up quickly through the schools list below.