Careers Dealing with the Brain

There are a number of professions that deal with the brain. While many of these careers are in the healthcare field, there are also occupations in media and engineering that involve the brain.

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The brain is a complex organ that is responsible for directing the functions of components of the human body. Professionals may be involved with research to understand how the brain works or to identify conditions that alter brain functions, while others specialize in treating these conditions.

Job Title Median Salary Job Outlook (2016-2026)**
Neuropsychologists $90,195 (2017)* 9% (psychologists, all other)
Psychiatrists $194,740 (2016)** 13%
Nuclear Medicine Technologists $74,350 (2016)** 10%
Neurologists $203,405 (2017)* 13% (physicians and surgeons, all other)
Nuclear Medicine Physicians $317,052 (2017)*** 13% (physicians and surgeons, all other)
Biomedical Engineers $85,620 (2016)** 7%
Neurosurgeons $392,280 (2017)* 17% (surgeons)
Writers and Authors $64,360 (professional, scientific, and technical services, 2016)** 8%

Sources: *; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; ***

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Information for Careers Dealing with the Brain


Neuropsychologists must have a doctoral degree in their field, and those who treat patients must have a license. Neuropsychologists specifically focus on how the brain impacts a person's behavior and look at how injuries or illnesses affect the brain. Individuals who have learning disabilities or medical conditions such as dementia can benefit from the expertise of a neuropsychologist because they are qualified to diagnose their condition. They may be able to provide treatment or help individuals understand what to expect as their illness progresses.


Psychiatrists work with patients who have mental health issues or conditions that are affecting how their mind works. They also treat patients with conditions that originate in the brain, such as autism. In some cases, psychiatrists may see patients who have mental health or behavioral issues stemming from other conditions affecting the brain, such as a stroke. Psychiatrists are medical doctors with a doctoral or professional degree in their field, and they must be licensed.

Nuclear Medicine Technologists

Nuclear medicine technologists typically work under the supervision of a nuclear medicine physician and give patients the radioactive materials needed for their tests or treatments. They interact directly with patients to capture diagnostic images and operate medical equipment. Their work can involve providing treatments to patients with brain tumors or performing positron emission tomography (PET) scans which are used to evaluate brain functions. In order to become a nuclear medicine technologist it's necessary to earn an associate's degree in nuclear medicine technology.


Neurologists are medical doctors who have earned a medical degree, completed a residency program in their field and earned a medical license; they treat conditions that affect a patient's nervous system. Since the brain is part of the nervous system, neurologists may play a role in treating patients who've had a stroke or who suffer from another condition that affects their brain, such as migraines.

Nuclear Medicine Physicians

Nuclear medicine physicians are medical doctors who've earned a medical degree and completed a three-year residency. They are specifically qualified to use radioactive materials to produce diagnostic images so that they can determine how effectively a patient's organs are working. They also evaluate the results of positron emission tomography (PET) scans that are used to assess the brain and are used to diagnose conditions such as dementia. Nuclear medicine physicians may also determine what type of treatment to provide to a patient with a brain tumor.

Biomedical Engineers

Biomedical engineers must have a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering or a related field. They perform a wide range of tasks, including producing medical software, researching healthcare practices and developing drugs and artificial organs. Biomedical engineers who work with the brain may focus on research and seek to understand how the brain relays information to parts of the body.


Neurosurgeons are surgeons who are specifically trained to perform operations on the human brain. Like all surgeons, they must earn a medical degree and a license. They are also required to complete a residency program that can last up to six years in order to be fully trained in their specialty. They are qualified to perform operations that can be used to treat or diagnose medical issues involving the brain.

Writers and Authors

Writers and authors typically rely on a combination of creativity, research and written communication skills to produce publishable material. It's common for these professionals to have a bachelor's degree in a subject such as journalism. Since writers and authors produce things like articles and textbooks, those with a background in science may specialize in writing about the brain and how it functions. In addition to producing things like medical textbooks they may write books that explain how the brain works to people without a medical or scientific background.

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