Biological Psychology Careers: Options and Requirements

Jan 02, 2020

Biological psychology (biopsychology) qualifications can open to door to a number of professions such as counseling, teaching and research. Here, you can find out about which education programs are available for individuals wishing to travel down the biopsychology careers pathway.

Biopsychology is the field within psychology that deals with the physiological underpinnings of human behavior. The types of careers available to someone holding biopsychology qualifications are varied as are the levels of education/qualifications needed for these different career pathways.

Key Career Information

Career Research Assistant Postsecondary Psychology Teacher Researcher Counselor
Education Requirements Bachelor's Degree Bachelor's/Master's PhD Master's
Job Growth (2018-2028)* 11% (for social scientists and related workers) 12% 14% (all social scientists) 22% (for all substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors)
Median Salary (2018)* $46,640 $76,710 $79,010 $41,880

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Aspiring biopsychologists might pursue a bachelor's degree program in psychology with a concentration on biology, although some specific biopsychology programs are available. Psychobiology programs will typically include courses covering topics such as:

  • Neurobiology
  • Clinical neuropsychology
  • Chemistry
  • Genetics

A bachelor's degree will often be sufficient for biopsychology and psychology research assistant roles. However, for more advanced psychology and biopsychology careers, such as senior researchers and postsecondary teachers, graduate degrees will typically be required. Professional licensure may also be required.

Entry-Level Biopsychology Careers

Careers in biopsychology, and psychology in general, can include research assistants, teachers and mental health counselors. Below is a little more about each biopsychology profession.

Research Assistant

Research assistants carry out much of the practical work needed to undertake experiments in the field and in the laboratory. The subject of the research will vary. However, in biopsychology, the work will often require gathering data from human subjects and conducting experiments on animals.

Teacher

Graduates with an undergraduate degree in psychology/biopsychology can find teaching positions in high schools and sometimes community colleges, teaching students the fundamentals of the discipline. In some states, high school teachers may be required to obtain a master's degree in an appropriate subject to maintain their licensure.

Advanced Psychology/Biopsychology Careers

Scientific Researcher

Using grants from pharmaceutical companies, hospitals or government agencies, scientific researchers conduct research in their biopsychological topic of interest. For instance, this may include studying the influences of pharmaceutical drugs on the brain or looking at the psychology of extreme endurance athletes. Scientific researchers may devise the experiment and co-ordinate with research assistants and grad students to carry out much of the required hands-on work. A doctoral degree is typically required to be considered for a scientific researcher position.

Mental Health Counseling

Another career option for biopsychologists is becoming a counselor although this is less common. Biopsychology counselors may find appropriate positions available in clinics, hospitals and mental health centers. Some of these positions may require degree holders to be trained in certain drug treatment methods and therefore they will need to acquire professional licensure. Counseling positions will normally ask candidates to hold a master's degree in the field and complete a certain number of internship hours.

Psychobiology Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) doesn't provide statistics specifically for biopsychologists, but it does offer some numbers on the related careers above. As of 2018, the BLS states that the median salary for a social scientist research assistant is $46,640. In the same year, the BLS suggests that the median salary for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors was $44,630. The BLS lists the median salary of postsecondary psychology teachers as $76,710.

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