The field of neuroscience is tremendously diverse, which means that a wide array of neuroscience careers are open to people who are interested in studying the science of the brain. Neuroscientists also do not necessarily need to study the human brain: some careers in neuroscience involve the study of animal populations. People who are interested in careers in neuroscience should plan on spending a lot of time in school. Many practicing neuroscientists have a medical degree or a PhD, and sometimes both, along with postgraduate work.
Broadly, careers in neuroscience can be found in the government sector, the private sector, hospitals, and universities. Some examples of neuroscience careers in the government include positions with government agencies performing scientific research and jobs with health departments, providing neurological services to members of the public. Neuroscience careers in the private sector tend to be found at pharmaceutical companies, where people research new drugs which could benefit the field, although researchers can also work for private companies not involved in pharmaceuticals, and the study of neuroscience can be applied to fields such as advertising, where understanding how the brain responds to sensory input can be very important.
Hospitals need neuroscientists to provide patient care; neurologists are doctors who focus on treating nervous system conditions, while neurological surgeons or neurosurgeons perform surgery on the brain. Careers in neuroscience are also open to people who are interested in working in mental health facilities, including positions as neurological nurses and neurotechnicians who assist with patient care and diagnosis. In the university setting, neuroscience careers can include teaching the next generation of neuroscientists, as well as conducting research.
Some examples of specific job titles in the neuroscience field include: neuropathologist, neurophysiologist, neuropsychologist, neuropharmacologist, neuroanatomist, neurobiologist, neurosurgeon, neurologist, psychophysicist, psychiatrist, developmental psychologist, and educational psychologist. These jobs include work in the lab, studying the structure of the brain and nervous system, along with work directly with patients, in outreach programs intended to educate the public, and in experimental settings where neuroscientists have a chance to work with people who have agreed to be test subjects to further scientific knowledge.
Most neuroscience careers require substantial math and science skills. It also helps to be a strong communicator, whether one is conducting research which will need to be written up or working with frightened patients who want someone to explain what is going on. Neuroscience is also a constantly evolving field, which means that people must be willing to commit to continuing education if they want to succeed in this field.