Neuropsychology Degrees & Careers How to Become a Neuropsychologist

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Genevieve Carlton
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Neuropsychologists study memory loss, learning disabilities, and brain injuries from a psychological perspective. As licensed psychologists, neuropsychologists can diagnose and treat patients who experience strokes, traumatic brain injuries, or other neurological conditions. They may specialize in areas like pediatric brain disorders, sports neuropsychology, or memory loss disorders.

The salary and career outlook for psychologists remains strong, with theBureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)reporting that psychologists earned a median annual income of over $80,000 in 2019.Clinical neuropsychologists受益于更高的收入潜力。和其他临床心理学家一样,大多数神经心理学家需要博士学位和执业执照。

This page provides a step-by-step overview of how to become a neuropsychologist. It also provides salary and job growth data, introduces common courses in neuropsychologist degree programs, and helps prospective students choose the right program for their needs.

What Does a Neuropsychologist Do?

Career Basics


When evaluating patients, neuropsychologists work closely with physicians and neurologists. In addition to examining brain scans, neuropsychologists use assessment tests to measure the brain's function. These tests can measure memory, problem-solving abilities, and cognitive abilities.

Depending on their specialty, neuropsychologists may treat patients with strokes, memory loss disorders, or learning disabilities.

Neuropsychologist Salary and Job Growth

Psychologists in many specialties benefit from above-average salaries and strong job growth. TheBLSprojects jobs for psychologists to grow 14% between 2018 and 2028.

According toPayScale, neuropsychologists earn nearly $93,000 per year, on average. With experience, neuropsychologists see their salaries increase. While early-career neuropsychologists earn an average of under $90,000 per year, neuropsychologists with 10 or more years of experience earn over $112,000 per year.

Salaries often vary by location and work setting. For example, psychologists inseveral states包括加利福尼亚、马里兰和华盛顿在内的美国人的平均年薪在10万美元以上。在政府或医院工作的心理学家的工资也高于在流动医疗服务机构或学校工作的心理学家。


Four Steps to Becoming a Neuropsychologist

This section details how to become a neuropsychologist, including education and licensure requirements.

Step 1
Complete a Degree
Future neuropsychologists must earn a bachelor's degree as the first step in their educational training. Most aspiring neuropsychologists major in psychology or a closely related field. During an undergraduate degree, psych majors learn about neuroanatomy, brain-behavior disorders, and psychological research. Students may also take specialized courses in neuropsychology or neuroscience.
Pursuing an internship or gaining relevant work experience can help undergraduates strengthen their skills. After earning a bachelor's degree, students can apply to graduate programs in neuropsychology.
Step 2
Earn a Graduate Degree
Neuropsychologists must hold a related doctorate to apply for licensure. Some neuropsychologists earn a master's degree before applying to doctoral programs. This step can help graduate students specialize their training and gain admission to a competitive doctoral program.
Earning a master's in psychology generally takes two years, while a doctorate in neuropsychology can take an additional 3-5 years to complete. During a doctoral program, students complete advanced coursework in neuropsychology, an internship, and a research-based dissertation.
Step 3
Earn a State Licensure
In every state, psychologists who treat patients must hold a license to practice. Although licensure requirements vary by state, most states require a doctoral degree from an accredited psychology program, passing scores on a psychology exam, and around 2,000 hours of supervised experience.
Because the licensure process varies by state, prospective neuropsychologists should carefully research the requirements in their state. Neuropsychologists who specialize in research or pursue academic positions may not need a license.
Step 4
Maintain Certification
Licensed psychologists must maintain their credentials. Many states set continuing education requirements for licensure renewal. Professional organizations often provide continuing education opportunities for members.

Preparing to Become a Neuropsychologist: Schools and Programs

当研究神经心理学项目时,未来的学生应该考虑几个因素,包括入学要求、入学选择和教师顾问。例如,在研究生阶段,神经心理学课程可能需要心理学或相关领域的本科学位。Some doctoral programs require a master's degree for admission.


Courses in Neuropsychology Programs

Neuropsychologist degrees train students in the brain-behavior connection, neuropsychological assessment, and cognitive rehabilitation. Learners explore the anatomy of the central nervous system and treatment methods to help patients with neuropsychological disorders. Students hone critical thinking skills, patient treatment abilities, and research skills.

Within a neuropsychology program, students may take specialized courses in areas like pediatric neuropsychological disorders, clinical techniques, or memory loss disorders. Graduate programs also incorporate an internship to give students hands-on experience in the field. While each program sets its own curriculum, the sample courses below cover common classes found in neuropsychology programs.

Foundations of Neuropsychology

Foundational classes introduce students to the subfield of neuropsychology. Students explore the neuropsychological assessment process, treatment techniques, and neuropsychological disorders. The class may also provide information on how to become a neuropsychologist, such as licensure requirements.


Neuroanatomy courses examine the structure and function of the central nervous system. Students learn about the role of neurons, neuronal communication, and neural systems within the human brain. The course also covers the biological bases of behavior through an anatomical lens. Students interested in clinical and research careers benefit from understanding neuroanatomy.

Neuropsychological Assessment

In classes on neuropsychological assessment, students learn to identify and diagnose neuropsychological disorders. The course covers assessment techniques for pediatric and adult patients in addition to major cognitive areas, like executive functioning, language, and memory. Students also learn about different assessment instruments and the reporting process.

Cognitive Rehabilitation


Child and Adolescent Disorders

In courses on child and adolescent disorders, neuropsychology students learn about disorders that affect learning, memory, and behavior. Topics may include attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, seizures, and brain injuries. Learners explore the diagnosis and assessment process, direct evaluation techniques, and treatment options.

Accreditation for a Neuropsychology Program

Prospective psychology students should always check a program's accreditation status before applying. Accredited schools and programs meet high standards for educating students. To earn accreditation, universities must undergo a rigorous review from an independent agency. During the review, the accrediting agency evaluates the school's student learning outcomes, graduation requirements, and faculty qualifications.

Schools may hold regional or national accreditation, with regional accreditation generally considered the more prestigious of the two. Accreditation benefits students in several ways. For example, only students at accredited schools qualify for federal financial aid, and many schools only accept degrees and transfer credits from accredited institutions. Additionally, many professional licenses and certifications require an accredited degree.

Programs within a school may also hold accreditation. Neuropsychology programs may hold programmatic accreditation from an organization like theAmerican Psychological Association(APA) or approval by theAssociation of State and Provincial Psychology Boards. In many states, psychologists must attend an APA-accredited program to earn a license.

TheU.S. Department of Educationprovides a database of accredited schools and programs.

Neuropsychologist Specialties

Neuropsychologists specialize in the brain-behavior connection. They evaluate and treat patients who experience strokes, brain injuries, and memory loss disorders. Within the field of neuropsychology, professionals may specialize in a certain brain disorder or age group. For example, some neuropsychologists focus on children with learning disabilities, while others work with aging patients with dementia. Other specialty areas include clinical neuropsychology and sports neuropsychology.

While pursuing neuropsychologist degrees, doctoral students can focus their training through specialized courses and internship opportunities. Students interested in clinical work can complete internship hours working with patients to build hands-on skills. Research-focused graduate students may instead conduct laboratory-based research projects.

A specialty may require additional coursework or work experience. The licensure requirements for clinical neuropsychologists often include a minimum of 2,000 hours of internship experience.

Components of a Successful Neuropsychologist Career: Skills, Credentials, Tools, and Technology

Successful neuropsychologists bring several skills to their field. They rely on analytical skills to reach logical, evidence-based conclusions about their patients or research. Patience and communication skills help neuropsychologists connect with patients managing memory loss disorders and treat neurological problems.

Neuropsychologists build these skills throughout their education, which emphasizes treating patients, diagnosing disorders, and conducting research. After completing a doctoral degree and internship, neuropsychologists planning to work in clinical settings must apply for a license. Research neuropsychologists and those who do not treat patients directly may not need a license.

In addition to a license, neuropsychologists can pursue board certification. Certification requirements include a doctoral degree from an accredited program, completion of an accredited internship program or the equivalent, and a psychology license. Board certification helps neuropsychologists demonstrate expertise in the field.


Excellent Communication

Whether it's conveying instructions to a patient or explaining an idea to a colleague, being able to communicate effectively is extremely important. This includes not only in speaking and presenting ideas, but writing them succinctly as well.

Strong Research


Critical Thinking


Problem Solving

Whether it's diagnosing a patient or researching the cause of a neurological disorder in a group of people, problem solving skills are essential for neuropsychologists.

The Powers of Observation

Neuropsychologists study human behavior and brain function. Not surprisingly, they must have excellent observation skills to recognize particular human gestures, movements and other actions as well as review and analyze research data and findings.


  • Neuropsychological tests
  • Personal computer
  • Statistical data software
  • DSM-5
  • Electroencephalograph
  • Magneto-encephalograph
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • Positron emission tomography
  • Computed axial tomography
  • Electromyography


State licensure

Neuropsychologists must have state licensure in order to practice as a psychologist. State licensure is also needed for certification. Each state will have its own licensure requirements, but minimum requirements usually include a doctoral degree, several years of relevant experience and passage of the Examination for Professional Practice of Psychology.



Neuropsychologist Professional Organizations

Professional organizations can help neuropsychology students build a professional network and strengthen their skills before entering the workforce. Many of these organizations offer networking opportunities and access to new research. Students may also benefit from discounted membership rates, professional development resources, and job boards.

National Academy of Neuropsychology

NAN offers neuropsychology resources on assessment, treatment, and consultation. The organization also publishes research and provides continuing education resources to help professionals stay current in the field. Students can access specialized resources and use the job board to look for openings.

American Psychological Association


The Society for Clinical Neuropsychology

A division of the APA, SCN studies the brain-behavior relationship and the clinical application of neuropsychological knowledge. The society promotes the use of empirical research in clinical work and develops training and practice standards. SCN also offers resources aimed at students and early-career professionals.

American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology


Sports Neuropsychology Society

SNS promotes the field of sports neuropsychology and provides evidence-based information on brain-behavior relationships in sports. The society disseminates scientific research on sports neuropsychology, advocates for the health and safety of athletes, and offers resources and publications for specialists. SNS also hosts an annual symposium and admits student members.

What exactly does a neuropsychologist do?


Is a neuropsychologist a licensed psychologist?

Yes. Neuropsychologists are licensed psychologists who specialize in brain disorders and injuries.


Salaries vary by factors like experience, location, and work setting, but the average salary for a neuropsychologist exceeds $92,000 per year, according toPayScale.

What is the difference between a psychologist and a neuropsychologist?

Neuropsychologists specialize in a subfield of psychology dedicated to nervous system disorders. Like psychologists, neuropsychologists need a doctorate and a license to practice with patients.

Resources for Neuropsychologists

Neuropsych Now

A resource designed for neuropsychology clinicians and students, Neuropsych Now publishes articles on the field and provides current information in an accessible format. Visitors can access resource guides and assessment tools and listen to podcasts on the site. Neuropsych Now also provides a list of mobile apps for practitioners.

The American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology


Mental Health America

A nonprofit organization established in 1909, Mental Health American addresses the needs of people living with mental illness. The organization provides information on prevention services, interventions, and integrated care. MHA also publishes research in the field and runs programs designed to prevent mental illness.

Clinical Neuropsychology

An open-access scholarly journal, Clinical Neuropsychology publishes research on the diagnosis, pathology, and treatment of neuropsychological disorders. The journal also publishes studies on neuroscience and neurology. Neuropsychologists can read the journal to stay current in the field or submit pieces for publication.

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Genevieve Carlton
Contributing Writer

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