Neuropharmacologist: Salary and Career Facts

Neuropharmacologists study how drugs affect nerve cells and human behavior. This field requires a graduate degree. Learn more about education requirements and career responsibilities of neuropharmacologists, and view salary information.

What Is a Neuropharmacologist?

Neuropharmacologists study how drugs affect the brain and nervous system through experiments and clinical trials. They may find how to prevent and/or treat dysfunctions, and standardize dosing for mass distribution. They frequently guide teams of technicians or students. Find out how to become a neuropharmacologist via the table below.

Degree Required Master's or doctoral degree; some also hold an M.D.
Education Field of Study Neuropharmacology
Key Duties Conduct experiments related to drug reactions, publish research; those with a doctorate may provide some patient care
Job Growth (2014-2024) 8%* (all types of medical scientists, except epidemiologists)
Median Salary (2015) $82,240* (all types of medical scientists, except epidemiologists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Which Types of Degree Programs in Neuropharmacology Are Available?

Schools offer neuropharmacology degrees at the master's and doctoral levels. You will need at least a bachelor's degree in biology or chemistry to enroll in either program, and some doctoral programs may prefer a master's degree. Medical school graduates are eligible as well. Some schools have combined master's and Ph.D. programs. You will need to research and write a thesis to complete a master's degree and a dissertation to complete a doctorate. A master's degree may be earned in two years and a doctorate in 5-6 years.

What Will I Study?

Program content primarily examines the molecular level interactions drugs have with cells, particularly nerve cells, and the effects drugs have on human behavior. The regeneration of damaged nerve pathways and the causes of and treatments for neurological diseases, addiction and chronic pain are possible areas of inquiry. Your studies will consist of a combination of classroom study, lab research and informal interaction with faculty and other students.

What Will My Duties Be?

Neuropharmacologists who earn a master's degree can expect job duties resembling those of research assistants or research associates. These include setting up and monitoring experiments, interviewing test subjects, recording test results and assisting with grant applications.

If you have earned a doctorate, your job duties will be a mix of research, patient care and teaching depending on whether you work for a government agency, hospital, university or private company. Positions with a government agency or private company emphasize research, with limited patient interaction and little or no teaching. Positions at a hospital revolve around patient interaction and research, with the potential for teaching informally through mentor relationships or interaction with medical students. University positions are oriented towards teaching and research. Neuropharmacologists may also need to attend conferences, write research findings for publication and apply for grants.

What Can a Neuropharmacologist Expect to Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, all medical scientists (excluding epidemiologists) earned a median salary of $82,240 in May 2015. PayScale.com reports that as of 2016, research scientists earned a median salary of $76,961. Those at the entry level earned around $72,000, while those with 20 years of experience or more earned about $91,000.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Related careers to medical scientists are biochemists and biophysicists, physicians and surgeons, and veterinarians. Biochemists and biophysicists study biological processes and the function of living organisms. Physicians and surgeons work to treat illnesses and injuries, and perform procedures for functioning. Veterinarians treat ill and injured animals. All of these professions require a doctoral degree.

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