If you are a cerebral person looking for a potential career, you might be interested in the field of neuropsychology. Yes, it’s an area of science that is devoted to the study of the brain, how it functions, and how brain function affects the way we think and feel. If that sounds like something that might be of interest to you, you will want to read the information below.
By the way, the field of neuropsychology is very lucrative from a financial standpoint. Everyone has a brain, and nearly everyone has issues with normal brain function from time to time. The current demand for quality neuropsychologists is very high.
What is Neuropsychology?
Neuropsychology is the branch of psychology that focuses on brain function and how brain function affects an individual’s personality, emotions, behavior, and overall mental health.
When plying their trade, licensed neuropsychologists are the go-to doctors and scientists when it comes to abnormal brain function. They are trained to determine how abnormal brain function is causing physical, emotional, and mental health issues. They specifically deal with diagnosing important neurological disorders like traumatic brain injuries, seizure disorders, some sleep disorders, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, vertigo, and dementia.
As scientists, neuropsychologists also play a role in the development of neurological treatments for the aforementioned types of neurological disorders. However, it’s notable that neuropsychologists don’t often work in clinical and therapeutic settings. They tend to work more in the field of research, development, and academia. It’s their job to determine the link between brain function and various disorders and then develop appropriate treatment methodologies.
What are the Requirements to Become a Neuropsychologist?
If your interest in becoming a neuropsychologist is authentic, you are probably looking for information about what it takes to become a neuropsychologist.
As a field of medical science, you have probably already come to the realization that the requirements for licensing in this field are cumbersome and stringent. That should not surprise you considering the important role a neuropsychologist plays in identifying and treating of major neurological disorders.
There are two areas in which you would need to focus. The first is education. The second would be getting yourself through the process of becoming a state-licensed neuropsychologist.
Ultimately, you would need to obtain a doctorate degree, better known as a Ph.D., in neuropsychology, like our founder Neuropsychologist Dr. Amy Serin. Before you can gain acceptance into a qualified doctorate program, you would need to secure a four-year bachelor’s degree with a strong preference given in the areas of psychology, biology, or pre-med.
After securing a bachelor’s degree, you would have your choice of one of two paths. You could choose to further your education by obtaining a master’s degree, or you could go straight into a Ph.D. program. The benefit of obtaining a master’s degree would be giving you a leg up as you compete to get into a top Ph.D. program.
From a time standpoint, it could take you 10 to 12 years of educational work and training before you get that coveted Ph.D. That’s 4 years for your bachelor’s degree, another year or two for a master’s degree, and another 5 to 8 years for your Ph. D. work.
Your educational curriculum would focus heavily on university courses related to developmental, cognitive, biological, and personality psychology. You might also benefit from courses in sociology, biology, and even chemistry. If opportunities arise to take courses very specific to neuropsychology and neurobiology, you should take them.
Along the way through the educational process, there will be ample opportunities to participate in field-work. Neuropsychology is a discipline that requires a lot of hands-on experience before someone is ready to go out in the world and start working.
Aside from field training, there would be a lot of testing requirements along the way. That would include testing for the coveted state license you would need to actually work in the field. Note: Licensing requirements do vary by state. Your job is to figure out the requirements you need to fulfill in the state in which you plan to practice.
Once you have a license, you can count on needing to participate in about 40 hours of continuing education every year. At the request of an employer, you might need to secure certification by a state or federal neuropsychology board.
The powers to be have developed all of these training criteria to ensure you have adequate credentials and training to practice as a neuropsychologist.
The Best Schools for the Field of Neuropsychology
For better or worse, the schools you attend could matter in a highly competitive field like neuropsychology. It’s your job to find the right balance between finding the best school possible without burying yourself under mounds of future college debt.
With that said, this is a very financially lucrative field in which to work. You should consider any educational costs you incur as an investment in your future.
As you begin your search for a good school, you will want to keep in mind that online schooling is now a viable alternative to attending brick and mortar universities. Many major universities now offer full curriculum’s in psychology and neuropsychology online. With online schooling, you can save time, effort, and money.
When you start your search, you should begin by focusing on schools in your state. The tuition costs are always materially favorable for in-state students. If you can get a scholarship or grant to any top-level school, that would be your best pathway to a good education.
If you are curious about which schools offer the most prestigious neuropsychology programs, the names of the schools on this list won’t surprise you. They include schools like Harvard, University of California–San Francisco, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Stanford University, and Johns Hopkins University. If international travel and education would interest you, you might consider University College London and the University of Oxford, both in the UK.
As you might expect, all of these schools are very expensive. If you are looking for something that is a little more palatable to your budget, most top state universities offer excellent undergrad programs in the behavioral sciences. You could do your undergraduate work on a budget and save your money for more elite master’s degree and Ph. D. programs.
At every turn along the way, you have control over your destiny. If you work hard in school and get excellent grades, the top schools will come looking for you. That’s how you get a pathway to an excellent education without having to risk your financial future.
Finally, we want to reiterate that what you pay for college is an investment in your future. No one is suggesting you should take on loads of debt. Instead, you need to be smart about the choices you make. It’s a matter of balance. As long as you are realistic about your abilities and expectations, you should have no problem becoming the best neuropsychologist you can be.
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Dr. Amy Serin conducts psychological and neuropsychological evaluations for ages 4 through adult for ADHD, learning disabilities, IQ, traumatic brain injury, anxiety, depression, autism spectrum disorders and giftedness.