5 Alternative Career Settings for a Neuroscientist

career settings for neuroscientist

  • Corporate Research and Development
  • Government
  • Teaching
  • Pharmaceutical Industry
  • Private Practices and Hospitals

While the popular conceptualization of neuroscientists at work is often set in a laboratory surrounded by complex equipment or models of the brain, there are many career settings for a neuroscientist. They have unique perspectives, which can be applied to benefit business, government, medicine, and academia. Using their education and their knowledge base, these highly trained scientists can explore any professional field they desire.

1. Corporate Research and Development

While it may at first seem counterintuitive, the application of their knowledge base to problems of product design, advertisement, and consumption offers a unique opportunity for neuroscientists. They may work in several different capacities that have immediate value. Moreover, working in the corporate sphere permits them the opportunity to apply their understandings of the human brain and resulting behavior. While pure research shares many qualities within the realm of research and development of products or services, it also represents a different type of competition or cooperation. In pure research, a neuroscientist competes with peers for a limited pool of capital with which to fund their work. When they move into the capitalist realm of the corporation, they become specialists with funding and clearly defined goals provided.

2. Government

Working with a government entity is similar to several other career settings for a neuroscientist. They may conduct specific research for health departments or the Center for Disease Control. However, they may also provide neurological treatment or consultation for individuals via federal departments, such as Veterans’ Affairs. In any government context, they may apply the latest research findings to the genuine problems of armed services veterans and others in need. Whether they are consulting on cases of post-traumatic stress disorder, treating tinnitus with the new understanding that it is a brain ailment and not merely damage to the ears, or helping to research the neurological roots of diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

3. Teaching

While one might consider that this is an open and shut case, teaching is a pursuit that can provide a number of different opportunities for neuroscientists. Because of its strong math and science component and the need for most neuroscientists to be good communicators, teaching at any level is a possible career path. University courses focused in the realm of neuroscience or any of its component disciplines are often a great fit for these individuals. They can also teach at any level, from kindergarten to high school, and apply both their knowledge and their unique perspectives on how the brain processes information.

4. Pharmaceutical Industry

According to Science Magazine, careers in corporate research and development place resources and funding at the disposal of neuroscientists to conduct research. However, in such contexts, the expertise and ability to range more freely in the types of questions to which they seek answers is slightly more flexible. Pharmaceutical companies are corporations run for profit, like any business. However, they are required to provide medications that adhere to strict federal regulations if they wish to continue making a profit. The development and testing of new remedies for the brain and peripheral nervous system maladies is just the beginning. Neuroscientists often research the impacts of drugs on the human brain, even if those drugs treat another system.

5. Private Practices and Hospitals

This is perhaps the most familiar of the career settings for a neuroscientist, practically applying knowledge and testing ideas posed by current research in the real world. Neurology can be practiced independently of a hospital in the context of private practice. Here, scientists develop patient bases and provide specialized care for individuals as an aid to general medical physicians. Work in hospitals is similar to private practice, but in such cases, neuroscientists are subject to hospital needs and demands.

While many individuals who study the brain and peripheral nervous system may be drawn to pure research, there are many alternative job settings. Many different cultural spheres can benefit from the expertise and unique education of these individuals. Although certain flexibility in application or implementation of that skill set may be called for, any of these alternative career settings for a neuroscientist can potentially benefit both the individual and the employing party.

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