Exploring Behavioral Neuroscience Careers

Since behavioral neuroscience is the study of how the transmission of neurons in the brain affects behavior, a career in behavioral neuroscience is a highly specialized field of employment. A job candidate is often required to hold an M.S. in Neuroscience while the upper echelon in the field most likely hold a PhD. in Neuroscience with a specialization in Behavioral Neuroscience. Careers span government, private and public sectors in a number of ways.

Government Careers in Behavioral Neuroscience

Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not actually classify behavioral neuroscientists as a category unto itself, this discipline falls broadly within the classification of biological scientists. According to the latest BLS statistics, government careers in the biological sciences far outrank those in the public and private sectors. The breakdown is as follows:

• Federal Executive Branch – OES Designation
• Colleges, Professional Schools and Universities
• Scientific Research/Development
• Medicine and Pharmaceutical Manufacturing
• State Government – OES Designation

Those are ranked in descending order with the sector providing the highest number of jobs listed first. Amazingly, Federal jobs in the biological sciences number 17,610 while those in academia (2nd place) only number 3,420. That’s more than five times as many biological scientists which the Federal government employs than are employed by the nation’s upper level schools.

Average Salaries for Behavioral Neuroscience Careers

If the statistical data was analyzed according to pay grade, the breakdown would be a bit different. The highest pay for biological scientists falls in the category of research and development with medicine and pharmaceuticals a close second. Federal careers come in third and all three are in the $70k average range. However, it needs to be understood that those figures are an average.

How Pay Grades are Calculated

For instance, a person with a PhD. in Behavioral Neuroscience would most likely be on the high end of the scale which could be well over $100k per year while a person with an M.S. in Behavioral Neuroscience might make close to the average and someone with a B.S. with an emphasis in Behavioral Neuroscience would be on the low end of the pay scale. In other words, pay is based on education, experience and of course, the sector of the market employing the individual.

The Future of Research and Development

In behavioral neuroscience, research and development is quite literally ‘where it’s at,’ to borrow a colloquialism. As more is discovered about how neurotransmitters affect many of the diseases afflicting a good percentage of the population, new treatments and/or cures are just on the horizon. This particular branch of the biological sciences overlaps the medical, pharmaceutical and scientific sectors and behavioral neuroscience careers are abundant. Even when the economy is floundering, there will always be diseases to combat and that’s just where a Behavioral Neuroscientist fits into the grand scheme of medical and pharmaceutical discoveries.

The thing to keep in mind is that behavioral neuroscience careers are dependent upon a highly specialized field of study. In order to land a good job with an even better salary, it takes hard work and determination. Anyone who is preparing for a career in this field needs to be highly focused and have a good grasp of mathematics as well as the biological and psychological sciences. There is a positive outlook for future employment as there will always be a need for those who are willing to work long and hard to better understand how the mind impacts behavior and other biological functions.
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