A neuropsychologist is a type of psychologist who focuses on the relationship between the brain and behavior. A person who wants to become a neuropsychologist usually has to graduate from high school and not only pursue a college education, but also complete graduate school. Typically, a person who wants to work as a neuropsychologist works to earn at least a master’s degree. Most, however, pursue doctoral degrees instead. Additionally, an aspiring neuropsychologist may seek certification in the field, which may involve demonstrating that he has met the certifying organization’s training requirements and passing an exam.
The job duties a neuropsychologist has often depend on where he works. For example, many neuropsychologists spend their time studying the brain in laboratory settings. These professionals may study not only how the brain works in healthy individuals, but also how certain drugs and conditions affect the brain’s functioning. Others in this field may work with a medical team in a hospital or other medical setting, helping physicians with patients who have neurological conditions. Some may even provide expert testimony in court cases.
A person who wants to become a neuropsychologist often starts preparing during his high school years. Taking advanced math and science courses can help him to prepare for college work, and anatomy classes may give him a head start on studying the various parts of the brain. Composition classes, debate clubs, and public-speaking activities may also prove helpful for a person who wants to become a neuropsychologist. Such classes and activities can help him build the type of written and verbal communication skills that are so important in this career.
Once in college, a person who wants to work as a neuropsychologist usually earns a bachelor’s degree in a major such as psychology or biology. Some even pursue pre-medicine majors. An individual in this field may then go on to pursue a master’s degree in psychology, focusing on neuropsychology for this degree. In most cases, however, a person interested in the career seeks a Doctor of Philosophy degree in neuropsychology instead.
Often, doctoral programs that prepare a person to become a neuropsychologist last for three to seven years. During this time, an aspiring neuropsychologist usually studies brain function and anatomy as well as a range of injuries and diseases that cause neurological problems. A person preparing for this career may also learn how to give and evaluate tests of brain function.
Following doctoral study, a person who wants to become a neuropsychologist may work to gain hands-on experience in the field. For example, he may secure an internship that allows him to work with and learn from experienced neuropsychologists. Finally, an aspiring neuropsychologist may seek certification by passing an exam and submitting to an evaluation of his work. Certification may not be required, but many employers prefer job applicants who are certified.