Home » Neurologist


Neurologist Job Description

 What does a Neurologist do?

The neurologist job description is a tall order wherein this type of physician specializes in neurological treatment, and as such, will see a wide selection of patients from all backgrounds and lifestyles.  Within this line of work, a neurologist will treat an array of conditions stemming from neurological disorders and diseases like Multiple Sclerosis and Alzheimer’s, genetic disorders, injuries to the central nervous system and spinal cord, and sleep disorders.  Part of patient treatment evolves a full physical exam, collection of the patient’s medical history, diagnosing the issue, and potential referral and/or treatment depending upon the findings of the exam and patient interview are part of the doctor’s responsibility.  Treatment of patients following diagnosis might involve the prescription of medications or treatment modalities. The neurologist will also educate the patient about potential changes to one’s lifestyle that can either minimize or eradicate the symptoms associated with a disorder or neurological injury.

The neurologist working in his own office, with a neurology group, or with an alternative facility or hospital will likely build a client base through referrals stemming from general physicians and the personnel in hospital emergency rooms.  A doctor refers a patient to the neurologist when a neurological issue is the suspected source of an ailment, disorder, or the outcome of an injury.  There are myriad subspecialties the neurologist can pursue, so the area of expertise the doctor has will differ based on his education and experience in the field.  For instance, one neurologist might specialize in treating Alzheimer patients, another might treat Multiple Sclerosis, and another might undertake a subspecialty allowing the individual to treat patients with epilepsy.

The neurologist will work in conjunction with a patient’s general physician to ensure the best possible care is provided, and may refer the patient to other specialists as the need calls for, particularly if the patient has rheumatological issues, a short or long-term need for physical therapy, or other health issues serving as secondary symptoms from a neurological injury, disorder or disease. The education one must pursue is lengthy and to become a professional in the field of neurology, and individual must pursue a doctor of medicine degree or MD.  Board certification is required for this career.  The state one resides in as well as different federal agencies have specific licensing requirements, all of which one must meet before practicing medicine in the neurology field.  Since those who suffer from neurological injuries, disorders, and diseases can have rapid, unexpected, and spontaneous health changes, many neurologists must also be ACLS or Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support certified.

Who is a Neurologist?

One might wonder who is it that pursues the neurologist career path, especially with such rigorous education and licensing requirements? First, one will find that the neurologist works in a variety of demanding settings, so the job is one that is ideal for those who enjoy daily challenges during the work day.  Long hours are often required and the neurologist might be on call, particularly if working for a hospital or emergency care facility.  The person working as a neurologist needs to enjoy interacting with and helping people, and doing a bit of investigating to determine what the source of a health issue might be.  The person who pursues this career path must enjoy learning as he will likely be required to attend workshops, seminars, lectures, additional courses and/or certification and re-certification programs throughout one’s career seeing the field of medicine changes rapidly as new findings, discovers, innovations, and technological advances change the way patients are treated.

A person working in the field of neurology has mastered an understanding of human anatomy, but particularly the role of the central nervous system, nerves, and brain as well as the disorders, diseases, and ailments that can occur.  Treatment modalities and medication used or treating such conditions are also part of the neurologist’s knowledge base following the completion of all education and licensing requirements.  To prove successful in this field, the potential student needs to have a passion for studying the subjects related to neurological disorders and care, including information on the peripheral nervous system, spinal cord, and brain.  Once a student completes here education there are different paths the individual can take career-wise, whether working with a group, in a solo practice, or even in an academic setting doing a professorship while educating other students about subjects related to neurology treatment modalities.

Neurologist Job Description

Neurologist Job Description

The job title of neurologist may vary depending upon the work environment of the physician as well as the sub-speciality the neurologist has pursued.  Some sample job titles include, but are not limited to: Pediatric Neurologist; Neurologist and Director of Medical Research; General Neurologist; Inpatient Headache Program; Director; Directory of Adult Epilepsy Care; Attending Physician; Adult Neurologist’ Pediatric and Adult Neurologist. The facility where one works determines many of the neurologist’s job responsibilities as well, and one might have different responsibilities when working in a local office versus working in a hospital or university environment.  Neurologists are special clinicians who will examine a patient and conduct specific diagnostic testing to discover the cause of one’s health issues and the ideal mode of care.  If working in the field of research, the neurologist might be one who performs clinical research, publish articles for scholarly journals, and he might be required to offer speaking presentations at industry-related events.

When working as a neurologist the exam and initial patient history is the first step in patient care.  The doctor will explore a patient’s medical history to develop a complete picture of the individual’s health: Things the neurologist examines include the patient’s mental status, cognitive abilities, language skills, sensations, reflexes, coordination, physical strength, and eyesight.  The exam may be followed by diagnostic testing including, but not limited to nerve conduction velocity tests, electromyography, electroencephalography, and lumbar punctures. Testing of the patient’s cerebrospinal fluid or blood might be required.  After all testing is completed, a diagnosis is made based on tests, patient history, and physical findings gathered at the initial examination. The neurologist might prescribe medications, and in such case, will track the patient to determine if there are either improvements or negative cognitive effects due to the use of the medication prescribed.

 Neurologist Duties and Tasks

  • Initial physical examination.
  • Collection and ongoing recording of patient history.
  • Diagnostic testing and ordering of lab work.
  • Interpreting the findings in (PET) Positron Emission Tomography; (SPECT) Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography; and (MR) Magnetic Resonance Imaging tests.
  • Examination of findings and collected information.
  • Patient diagnosis and treatment plan creation/implementation.
  • Identification of disorders and disease related to the cranio spinal region, central nervous system, and the major neurological system in general.
  • Prescribe medication and monitoring patient’s use.
  • Communicate with the relatives of patients and educate them about the treatment plan, prognosis, risks, benefits of treatment, and the potential costs in relation to patient care.
  • Share information and work in conjunction with a patient’s primary care doctor as well as alternative health teams for patient care coordination.
  • Patient counselling on the environmental or genetic concerns related to neurological diseases and disorders.
  • Decide when brain death has occurred and implement the necessary procedures and tests for doing so.
  • Explain neurological treatments needed to a patient as well as the prognosis.
  • Make appropriate patient referrals when necessary, particularly when a patient requires supportive care such as that provided through social service agencies, specialized nursing care, and physical therapy.
  • Ongoing education through classes and certification courses to ensure knowledge of the latest industry changes in patient care and treatment modalities.
  • Training of medical staff and students may be required while working in the field, as well as the supervision of those who perform therapeutic treatment or neurological diagnostic measures.
  • Actively research, study, and write articles for industry-related medical journals.
  • Carry out treatment modalities in relation to one’s speciality in areas of focus like neurogenetics, behavioral neurology, neuro-oncology, neuroimmunology, and sleep disorders.
  • Prescribe and carry out specific treatment modalities like deep brain stimulation, vagus nerve stimulation, and transcranial magnetic stimulation.

Skills Required

  • Neurology Clinic Experience
  • Neurophysiology
  • Sleep Medicine
  • Use of email software
  • Nuesoft Technologies NueMD software
  • Epic Practice Management software
  • e-MDs software
  • Bizmatics PrognoCIS EMR software
  • Microsoft Office Suite, PowerPoint Presentation, Excel Spreadsheet, and Word programs

Working Conditions

Neurologist Job Description

The environment in which a neurologist works varies.  The successful neurologist might open up a private practice and work in his own office setting while delivering care based on his subspecialty focus.  Some neurologists work in the hospital environment thereby serving an array of different patients either through emergency or specialty care.  Sometimes hospitals might refer patients to another hospital housing the appropriate neurologists to provide necessary care.  Meanwhile, a physician might work in a private setting or with a medical group as well as in the hospital setting, depending on the type of schedule they are willing to keep.  The job of the neurologist, unless in a private office setting, is likely beyond the scope of 9 to 5 pm, and can result in long hours on the job with considerable overtime.  Travel might be necessary, either a distance to get to a job location, or back and forth between work locations during work hours.  Finally, some neurologists choose to work in colleges or universities and continue their careers working in the academic environment.

Neurologist Salary

Neurologist Job Description

Of course, part of understanding what the neurologist career entails is knowing answers to questions like how much do neurologists make, and what things influence the neurologist salary. The pay the neurologist earns is quite generous, regardless of where one resides; a ballpark salary figure associated with this career path is right around $204,000.00 per year, but can span the gamut between $98,000.00 to $345,000.00, depending on profit sharing, which can be as high as $50,000.00, as well as bonuses, which can be upwards of $61,000.00 a year.  While the salary is handsome no matter where one lives, one’s residence still plays a role in how much the neurologist makes each year.  Tenure also influences salary, as does one’s subspecialty and work environments.

How Much do Neurologist Make?

The entry level pay for a neurologist is around $189,000.00, which is considerably below the national average salary of $204,000.00.  By the time a person reaches mid-career with five to nine years on the job, they receive a salary of about $202,000.00.  Those with greater than nine years in the field make around $225,000.00 per year.   Those with greater than 20 years in the field make upwards of $240,000 a year. Keep in mind that some neurologists make far more than the national average with salaries exceeding $346,000 yearly when you include bonuses, profit sharing, overtime and other income considerations.


As mentioned earlier, place of residence does play a role in what one will make while working in this career; for example, a position for one living in New York will have them earning a median pay that is nearly $8,550.00 less than the national average with a salary of $195,846.00 a year. Extensive experience in the field doesn’t necessarily influence the salary of the neurologist. Those at entry level positions tend to make about 8% less than the national average. When reaching midcareer the neurologist’s salary hovers right around 1% greater than the national average pay.  After about ten years in the field, the neurologist will see a pay equivalent to 10% greater than the national median.  After 20 years when entering one’s late career, the salary increase is about 17% more than the national average salary the neurologist receives.

Some special skill sets will have a bit of an influence on rates of pay as well.  Those who have Neurology Clinic work skills will see a salary of 5% greater the national median of $204,000.00.  If skilled in neurophysiology, the salary is about 9% greater than the national average, and Sleep Medicine skills increases the salary over the national average by as much as ten percent.

Neurologist Employment

Neurologist Employment

About five percent of neurologists working in the field today have less than a year on the job. About 35% one to four years of job experience, while another 20% of neurologists have been employed for five to nine years. About 20% of neurologists have ten to 19 years of experience, while those who have about 20 years or more of experience consist of around 20% of all actively employed neurologists.

In terms of medical benefits, roughly 86% of all neurologists have medical insurance and another 61% have dental coverage. In terms of vision insurance, about 52% of neurologists maintain such coverage.  Only about 12% of all neurologists lack medical, dental, and vision insurance entirely.







Regarding the number of neurologist jobs, the information above is very generic and general, only revealing physicians’ and surgeons’ positions outside of the broader category and the medical job titles not included under the same umbrella category.  Thus, the numbers above may not prove a complete or honest reflection of neurology job availability for each year indicated. Going forward, in a general sense, in the category of physicians and surgeons, there was serious growth in 2010 to 2011 with 11,850 new positions that year.  From 2011 to 2012, the same category took a dramatic decline presenting with only a 2,820 increase in jobs that year from one year to the next. From 2012 to 2013, there was a 1,190 decline in jobs, and from 2013 to 2014, there was an increase of 4,100 jobs within the category of physicians and surgeons.

Gender Distribution

The gender distribution in the field of neurology clearly demonstrates a leaning, perhaps unfairly, to the field containing 65% active male neurologists to only 35% females in the same field.  There are several reasons why this might occur, with one reason being that women as still trying to overcome the stereotype that they are less capable in the areas of mathematics and science to pursue such a lofty career.  Another reason can be identified in the fact that men tend to choose a career path based on monetary considerations and woman draw into the mix additional considerations like balancing life a family, children, and familial commitments, so while having a more than generous and tempting salary, the chaotic and sometimes daunting schedule the neurologist faces may not appeal to a female who is seeking a home and employment.  Finally, discrimination within the field is entirely possible as well, wherein more males are hired as they are stereotypically seen as those who are the most capable due penchant and talent for mathematics and the sciences.



How to Become a Neurologist?

Neurologist Job Description

To be successful as a neurologist you will have seemingly intense neurologist education requirements to meet seeing that at least 12 years of schooling follows. The career path of the neurologist begins at college, but it can also begin as early as high school if the student focuses on taking science, English, and mathematic courses aligned with the courses of student one might undertake during a freshman year in college. In some cases, students can earn college credits during their senior year in high school and can therefore get a head start on one’s educational pursuits.

 Neurologist Education Requirements

The first four years as an undergrad student is when the hopeful neurologist ends up earning a Bachelors, which usually has a major in one of the sciences. Many students choose the major of chemistry, physics, and biology. The goal in undergraduate school is to keep one’s scores high because a higher GPA gives the student a far better chance to get into the medical school they want to study at as well.

Getting into medical school takes some work because it is competitive.  The admissions officers not only consider one’s GPA, but also evidence of one’s ability to lead, extracurricular activities, undergraduate grades and schooling history.

In college, the student usually pursues a degree with a major in some selected science, such as physics, chemistry, or biology, as the latter subjects serve as the typically recommend pre-med school areas of concentration.  After college, medical school follows and the school must be accredited by the (LCME) Liaison Committee on Medical Education.  The licensing exam follows wherein the student must pass the (USMLE), otherwise known as the United States Medical Licensing Examination.  When the exam is passed, then the student is eligible to participate in a residency in the field that is completed in a three to four-year period. Upon admission, the first couple of years of study will focus on subjects like pharmacology, medical ethics, anatomy, psychology, and physiology.  The next couple of years will involve the completion of clinical requirements.

Once medical school is complete, the student then moves to an internship to gain experience for about a year. During the residency, a period lasting about three years, the individual is likely to work rotations in various neurological specialities as well as subspecialties, including work with a focus on things like child neurology and behavioral neurology.  A fellowship follows, lasting anywhere from one to eight years where the individual decides to become a specialist in different areas of the field, including subspecialties like neuroscience, movement disorders, and epilepsy.

Neurologist Colleges

There’s no question the path to the career in neurology is long, but it proves financially rewarding as well as personally satisfying.  With a variety of subspecialties to pursue, the hopeful neurologist has several directions to take when plotting the career path. Below is a list of some of the leading neurologist colleges in the nation where you can begin to undertake studies.

  1. Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
  2. UCSF School of Medicine, San Francisco, California
  3. Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
  4. Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  5. UW School of Medicine, Seattle, Washington
  6. David Geffen School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California
  7. UNC School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  8. Pittsburgh School of Medicine , Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  9. Pritzker School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois
  10. Wash U School of Medicine, Saint Louis, Missouri

 Major Subjects

Biology, chemistry, and anatomy are some of the fundamental courses a student will take. Studies in biology will involve learning about animal and plant organisms, the cellular and tissue functions, the various interactions and interdependencies of the cells with other cells as well as the environment.  Chemistry studies focus on the properties, structures, and composition of substances as well as the transformation process. Understanding of human behavior is vital when working as a physician, so all forms of psychology including developmental, abnormal, general, and social psychology are likely under one’s course list.  As mentioned earlier, other areas of focus will include pharmacology, ethics, psychology, anatomy, and physiology. Knowledge of math, including statistics, calculus, geometry, algebra, and arithmetic and administration and management are part of course work as well.

Neurologist Specializations

Neurologist Job Description

A wide range of subspecialties can be pursued when you are studying for your medical degree. A student might study specific disorders such as Epilepsy, Prion diseases, Dementia, Multiple Sclerosis, Autonomic Disorders, or Alzheimer’s. Some students learn about sleep disorders, the effects of concussion and headaches, while others might take on a concentration in pain management or nuerooncology.  Vascular neurology, neuro-behavior, neuro-rehabilitation, neuromuscular conditions, disorders affecting movement, neurotology, neuropathology, neuroradiology, neuro-ophthalmology, neurosurgery, and neurocritical care are other forms of subspecialties to pursue.  There is the opportunity to participate in clinical research in all areas.

Professional Associations of Neurologist

The American Neurological Association (ANA) is but one of many Association of Neurologists you can become a member of when time is available; The organization is open to all of those who pursue this challenge career path. Established in 1875, the ANA is a society consisting of neuroscientists and neurologists committed to the advancement neurology-related academic pursuits, education, training and to spread knowledge about the field.  The ANA publishes two journal, including the Annals of Neurology, and The Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology. The society lends to the establishment of the standards within the industry.  The ANA has played a role in improving the training and standards thereof for all physicians working in the field of neurology, and they serve as a voice within the academic areas of neurology as well.  The society has several options for domestic, corresponding, and special membership, including Fellow, Member, Associate, Student, and Senior.

Famous Neurologists

There are several famous neurologists that have proven trailblazers and innovators in this field of medicine. Oliver Sacks, who is a teacher, writer, doctor, author, and a neurologist.  His work has been adapted for both film and stage, and his books have made him well-known.  Sacks called the human brain the “most incredible thing in the universe.”  In 1960, he got a medical degree in Oxford at Queen’s College.  He followed his studies there with an internship at Middlesex Hospital and later moved to the United States.  He interned at San Francisco-based Mount Zion Hospital and, while at the University of California in Los Angeles, he finished his residency in neuropathology and neurology.  His work in Bronx New York in 1966 at Beth Abraham Hospital involved caring for those with encephalitis lethargica: This was the subject of the moving Awakenings featuring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro.


Sigmund Freud, well known as one of the forefathers of psychoanalysis, was an Austrian-born Doctor of Medicine and neurologist.  He got his degree at the University of Vienna in the early 1880s. He researched an array of subjects, including microscopic neuroanatomy, aphasia, and cerebral palsy. He also well known for his writings on dreams and the subconscious.


Neurologists FAQ

  What is the job outlook for neurologists?

Per the latest statistics, the outlook for neurologists, surgeons, and physicians is expected to increase between 2014 and 2024 by as much as 14 percent.  However, even with this increase in mind, the potential study of neurology needs to bear in mind that entrance into medical school is highly competitive.  It can become even more competitive as more women begin to pursue the career path.

  What are the pros and cons of being a neurologist?

Being able to help people from all walks of life is a primary advantage to the job. Of course, the more than ample pay also proves a perk. The downside is the competitive nature the industry, the extensive and costly education required, and the often-long hours one endures during the work week.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

Scroll Up