Neuroscientist

research scientist

Career outlook for neuroscientist

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

£42,120

Currently employed in Scotland

7,500

Five year job forecast

+5.21%

"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures.

What's it like?

Neuroscientists study our bodies’ most compelling element – the brain. As we still know relatively little about how the mind works, this is a field where your research can make a big difference. 

You’ll track brain and nerve activity and examine cells and tissue to increase our understanding of the nervous system. You might use MRI scans or sensors attached to someone’s head. Or you might model nervous system behaviour on a computer to see what happens under certain conditions. 

Neuroscience experiments can take months or even years to complete. So you’ll need to stay focused and consistent to make sure your findings are reliable. 

Your discoveries could inform treatments for brain or nerve-related injuries and illnesses. They could even help to stop these illnesses occurring in the first place. 

When your research is complete, you’ll write a detailed report that you might then send to academic journals. If the journals’ editors think your work is robust, they’ll publish it. Published scientists are held in high regard, and can find it easier to get funding for further research. 

What you’ll do 

  • Prepare tissue and cell samples for analysis under a microscope 
  • Use chemical tests to highlight different parts of the nervous system 
  • Use an fMRI or MEG scanner to map brain activity 
  • Monitor experiments closely and collate accurate data 
  • Analyse data to find patterns and trends 
  • Run statistical analyses to show that your findings are driven by cause and effect rather than coincidence 
  • Meet with colleagues to discuss the progress of your research 
  • Write research papers and send to neuroscience journals 
  • Read journals to keep up to date with the latest breakthroughs 
  • Contribute to data analyses in drug trials 
  • Provide information and evidence for funding applications 
  • Go to conferences to meet other neuroscientists and present your research 
  • Teach or lecture in neuroscience  

Working conditions

Hours

While you’ll probably work something like a standard week, your hours will depend on your research project and how often you need to check in with your experiment.

Environment

Neuroscientists usually work in a university, private research company or government agency. Others are based in hospitals where they test biopsies, diagnose illnesses and monitor the effects of treatment.

UK employment status

Full-time

60%

Part-time

27%

Self employed

13%

Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Written communication
  • Problem solving
  • Working with numbers
  • Questioning
  • Researching
  • Attention to detail
  • Analysing

Build your skills

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To understand more, have a look at what are my skills?

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on Apprenticeships.scot.

Qualifications

Neuroscientists are research scientists and will usually be expected to have a science based degree followed by a PhD and many will also have completed a Masters – relevant subjects would include:

  • Health sciences (biomedical sciences, biochemistry, pharmacology)
  • Computer science
  • Physics/Chemistry
  • Engineering

See https://www.bna.org.uk/careers/courses/ for a list of Neuroscience related courses as well as for further information on funded research placements.

Apprenticeships

You can gain skills and qualifications in the workplace through options such as:

Foundation Apprenticeships (FAs) are chosen as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 but include hands-on learning at a local employer or college.  They are the same level as a Higher.

You might want to consider an FA in areas such as:

  • Scientific technologies

Modern Apprenticeships (MAs) mean you learn on the job. You get paid and work towards a qualification at the same time.

You might want to consider an MA in areas such as:

  • Life Sciences and related science industry

​​​​​​​Graduate Apprenticeships (GAs) are designed for industry and you'll spend most of your time learning on the job but you'll also go to uni or college. You'll get a job, get paid and work towards a qualification at the same time.

You might want to consider a GA in areas such as:

  • Data science

Useful subjects

Many colleges and universities will have required subjects that you must have for entry. They might also highlight additional subjects that they would value. Look at individual institution websites for specific entry information.  

Useful subjects for this job would be:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Maths
  • Physics