Neurophysiology and Neurobiology

Neurophysiology and neurobiology are fields that examine the brain and the neural system. Continue reading to learn more about job options, training and education programs, employment outlook and salaries for this field.

Are Neurophysiology and Neurobiology For Me?

Career Overview

As a neurophysiologist or neurobiologist, you could work in basic research that makes contributions to pure knowledge or in applied research that's oriented toward specific uses of knowledge. Research in neurobiology may include issues of the brain, such as epilepsy, cognitive function disorders or sensory information processing. Research in neurophysiology tends toward overall physical functioning and concerns such issues as motor control, sensory physiology and neural circuits. In either specialty, applied research involves development of diagnostic tests, medical treatments and pharmaceuticals.


You could combine your research with a career as a college or university professor, or you may find employment with government agencies or in private industry. If you have a compassionate nature, you could apply your interest in neuroscience to the medical profession as a medical doctor specializing in neurology or a medical scientist. If you have excellent organizational skills, then another career path for you may be in natural sciences management, either by itself or in combination with your scientific research. Natural sciences management could encompass fields like neurophysiology and neurobiology. As a research administrator your responsibilities would include coordinating the activities of research projects, hiring and supervising scientists and others involved in the projects and managing the budget.

Employment Outlook and Salary Statistics

Although specific data is not available for a career in neurobiology or neurophysiology, according the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth for biophysicists and biochemists is expected to be 19% between 2012 and 2022 ( Biological scientists in general earned an average annual salary of $75,160 in 2013. As a medical doctor or medical scientist, you would experience an increase in employment of 18% and 13% growth, respectively. The average annual salary for medical scientists was $90,230 in 2013, and it was about $187,200 for medical doctors. Employment for natural science managers is expected to experience an average growth of 6% during this period. The average annual salary for natural science managers was $132,850 in 2013. Employment in research positions may depend on availability of grants at colleges and universities and from private foundations and the federal government.

How Can I Work in Neurophysiology or Neurobiology?

Education Options

The study of neurophysiology and neurobiology requires graduate level education. The foundation of that education would be as a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience or a Bachelor of Science in Biology. You would be required to obtain a doctoral degree in biology or neuroscience for independent research in these fields or to obtain a position as a university professor. The study of neurophysiology and neurobiology tends to be interdisciplinary, with course work in cellular and molecular biology, biophysics and similar classes. After graduation you may find post-doctoral research fellowships that may lead to publication of your research. You could enter natural science research management from your position as a research scientist or with a bachelor's degree in science and a Masters of Business Administration (MBA).

Doctoral Programs

If you choose to become a medical doctor you would be required to undergo extensive education, including undergraduate course work in pre-medicine. This would prepare you for the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) and to compete for entrance into a medical school. Medical training includes a supervised residency at a hospital or medical center and includes clinical experience in your specialty. Overall, medical education can take 11 years or more, and you must become licensed as a medical doctor in the state where you work. To become a medical scientist, you would be required to obtain a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). However, you can also obtain a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.), which can greatly enhance your job prospects. You may find programs that allow you to complete both concurrently within seven years.

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