A Career As a Neuropsychologist: Your Questions Answered


Article originally published on Psychology Today. Republished by i-studentglobal with the author's permission. 

Deciding upon a career is never simple, especially if it involves years of training before earning the first dollar. I often receive e-mails from students asking me questions relating to a career in neuropsychology, and in this post I will answer, as best I can, the main ones. If you are thinking about becoming a neuropsychologist, if you haven’t already, read my previous post titled “So you want to be a neuropsychologist?” Then come back to this post! But a note of caution; these are simply my opinions, and as training programmes and entry requirements differ from country to country and even from university to university within countries, it is essential that you find out what your preferred university requires.

Question 1. What are the skills needed to train as a clinical neuropsychologist?

Answer: In general terms, you will have the academic ability (brains and stamina!) to complete a doctorate, or in some countries a Masters degree, and a willingness to learn about research. You will be fascinated by how the mind works and eager to learn more about the brain and behavior. When you meet people, you find what they have to say interesting, and they respond to this by telling you more about themselves. You loveworking with people and you may even like working in a hospital environment! You will be a good team member with the ability to contribute but without having to take center-stage. You will have strong ethical values. If you like to gossip with your friends, you will be very clear about the importance of confidentiality in a work environment, and indeed in your personal life when confidentiality is appropriate. You will know how you are going to finance yourself during the training period. You will have good personal support systems in place. You will have dealt successfully with any psychological problems that you have had in the past, and learned from your experiences. You will have a good sense of humor and be more of an optimist than a pessimist (although a balance is fine)! You will enjoy very hard work. You will be content to earn, in your career, a good salary but not a massive salary. (For the same amount of blood, sweat and tears, there are other careers with the potential to make you much richer financially).

Question 2. What courses should I take to best prepare me to apply for a neuropsychology programme?

Answer: This will depend on the specific requirements of the programme you want to apply for, and these vary across states and countries. Usually you will require good passes in biology, statistics, neuroscience and a range of psychology courses. In addition, any practical experience you can gain, perhaps through voluntary work in a rehabilitation center, or a telephone crisis counselling service, will be useful, and for some programmes a requirement. The best advice I can give you is to read the material provided by the neuropsychology programme and if possible arrange to meet with a faculty member. The requirements will probably be different for entry into a research neuropsychology doctorate and a clinical neuropsychology doctorate programme. In some countries, after graduating with a research doctorate you can then apply for a clinical neuropsychology internship.