Biological Psychology Career Facts

Research what it takes to become a biological psychologist. Learn about licensure, education requirements, and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Clinical Psychology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Biological Psychologist?

Biological psychology, also known as psychobiology, biopsychology, physiological psychology, and behavioral neuroscience, refers to a specialized career involving the study and research of brain activity. These professionals research the connection between our thoughts and behaviors and the accompanying actions our brains take to make them happen. They examine how the nervous system activates during basic processes in animals and humans, as well as how we perceive the world around us through our senses as a means of explaining behavior.

The following chart provides career information at a glance for biological psychology.

Degree Required Bachelor's for entry level support and experience positions; doctorate for professional positions
Education Field of Study Psychology, biology, chemistry, physics
Licensure Required Requirements vary by state
Certification School psychologist credential from the National Association of School Psychologists for public school-setting professionals
Average Salary (2015) $93,050 (for psychologists, all other)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Educational Requirements For a Biological Psychology Career?

If you plan to pursue a career in psychobiology, a 4-year bachelor's degree in psychology, biology, chemistry, or physics is typically necessary to advance your studies to the doctoral level. You'll also need to study social sciences, statistics, and mathematics. As a graduate of a bachelor's program, you'll qualify for administrative or support positions to gain entry-level experience in the field.

A doctoral degree in biological psychology is required for practitioners, professors, and advanced researchers. Most doctoral programs require an academic or practical background in psychology or a related subject. In addition to graduate coursework, you'll need to complete an internship and have several years of experience in order to apply for state licensure.

What Will I Study?

An undergraduate psychobiology program consists of interdisciplinary classes in anthropology, mathematics, natural sciences, economics, and humanities. Core courses focus on developmental and experimental psychology, chemistry, neurology, and behavioral topics. You may be required to take a foreign language.

Graduate-level courses in biological psychology cover topics in developmental behavior, history of biological psychology, behavioral assessment, and scientific research methods. You'll learn differences in clinical, cognitive, and experimental treatment techniques, and some programs include training in advanced psychopharmocology. You'll participate in clinical experiences by assisting in research projects and treatment assessments under the guidance of a licensed professional psychobiologist.

Do I Need to Be Licensed?

All states regulate licensure for psychologists that work directly with patients, clients, or students. Stipulations for practice vary by state, though you're usually required to have a doctoral degree, obtain intern and professional experience, and pass a state licensing test. If you plan to work in a public school setting, you can earn a school psychologist credential from the National Association of School Psychologists that is acceptable in many states in lieu of state licensure.

What Salary Could I Expect to Earn?

Though specific earnings data for biology psychologists is not available, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that the average income for all psychologists in the category of ''other'' in 2015 was $93,050 per year (www.bls.gov). SimplyHired (simplyhired.com) conducted a survey that suggested that the average 2017 salary for all jobs with the term ''behavioral neuroscience'' anywhere in the job listing was $67,299. These jobs included research assistants, senior directors, case managers, and professors.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Neuropsychology is a related field of psychology that studies the effects of traumatic injury, disorders, mental illness, and other issues affecting the brain change how an individual thinks and behaves, as well as how best to treat their conditions in a medical setting. These professionals must have either a master's or doctoral degree. Physicians are doctors who examine and diagnose a patient's illnesses and injuries, reviewing their medical history and offering preventative care and counseling on general health. Surgeons perform operations on patients to treat damaged body parts, fix deformities, remove cancerous growths, or improve a patient's quality of life and physical condition. Both physicians and surgeons need doctoral degrees.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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