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What Kinds of Jobs Can You Get With a Ph.D. in Neuroscience?

by A. Low

According to Michael Price's November 2011 article in "Science" magazine, a Ph.D. in neuroscience may present a more diverse array of job opportunities than you realize. Your education has enabled you to solve problems and analyze data. You may also have learned essential communication, computer and technical skills -- all of which can translate into jobs in and outside academia. Your personality and preferences should come first when determining which type of job to take: While an extrovert may excel as a teacher or in communications, an introvert may be happier in research, writing or a more technical job.

Academia

A common path for neuroscience Ph.D.s is to take a job in academia, as a research scientist or professor or in administration. If you work at an undergraduate institution, you're likely to spend more of your time teaching than researching -- whereas a job at a medical school or research-intensive university will involve more hands-on scientific research, says the Society for Neuroscience. Keep in mind that the well-paid, tenure-track positions are often competitive and that many neuroscience jobs in academia depend on an institution's level of funding for research.

Corporate Research and Development

Corporations often hire research scientists with Ph.D.s to develop new products, treatments and therapies and study their effects. These jobs are largely collaborative, requiring numerous scientists to work together to find a solution to a specific problem, says the Society for Neuroscience. "Science" magazine states that the pharmaceutical industry is likely to hire the most neuroscientists with Ph.D.s.

Writing and Publishing

Media careers in science writing, technical writing and publishing can be lucrative for job-seekers with a Ph.D. According to the Society for Neuroscience, neuroscientists can become contributing writers or editors for science magazines, or freelancers who keep up with industry advances and write heavily researched articles for a variety of outlets. Consider also a career in science advocacy, in which you provide scientific information to policy makers. This requires written and oral communication skills and an ability to communicate technical information to those without a background in science.

Other Job Opportunities

Whether you want to get away from the ultracompetitive environment of academia or you're simply seeking an unusual path, you can use your neuroscience degree to land a job with any public or private organization that has a scientific angle or includes a scientific department. Examples include everything from consulting, pharmaceutical and biotech companies to venture capital firms and law firms dealing in intellectual property, says "Science." Also, if competition discourages you, consider an industry less saturated with other Ph.D.s, like K-12 education or nonprofits.

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