Neuroscience, the study of the human brain, has a wide variety of applications in fields such as medicine and pharmacology. Students who pursue a PhD in neuroscience gain advanced knowledge of brain function, preparing them for careers in a range of different fields. As a result, the salaries of PhD neuroscientists can vary widely.
Following the completion of a PhD, many neuroscientists will undertake a period of postdoctoral research, usually for two to three years. A post-doc is the first step on a longer academic career for many, but it can also simply be a way to approach a particular research problem. Post-doctoral research pays an annual stipend, which may come either from a university or from another funding body. The salary of a postdoctoral research fellow can range from around £25,000 to as much as £40,000.
Following postdoctoral research, many neuroscientists will go into academia. Working as a university lecturer involves a combination of both teaching and scientific research. The workload can be high, with advancement dependent on excellent performance. A junior university lecturer can earn around £30,000, while a more senior academic may earn in the region of £50,000. Academics may also have the opportunity to earn additional money by lecturing, publishing or serving as consultants to industry.
Neuroscience has numerous medical applications. For many neuroscientists, scientific research may be part of a medical career. A small percentage of neurology PhDs combine their scientific background with medical education, going on to work as clinical neurologists or neurosurgeons. Doctors who pursue this highly challenging and specialised field can expect to be well rewarded: although early-career neurosurgeons may start at much lower pay rates, experienced neurologists and neurosurgeons can earn over £100,000 a year.
Neuroscientists are highly prized in a number of industries. Pharmaceutical companies, biotech firms and many other employers within the biomedical field all offer jobs for applicants with neuroscience PhDs. Large biomedical firms often have dedicated neuroscience research units. Salaries for neuroscience researchers in industry vary greatly, but can match or even exceed the salaries of neuroscientists working in the medical field.