How to Become a Neurologist

Neurologist Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $280,800
Avg. Pay / hour $135.00
Education 4+ Years
Job Outlook 7%

If you’re interested in medicine and health then you might like to become a neurologist.

Neurology is the study of illness and disease which affects the center, peripheral, and automatic nervous systems.

A neurologist will diagnose and treat these diseases and their symptoms.

There is an overlap between the field of neurology and psychiatry, as many of the diseases of the nervous systems have a psychological component, or often a psychological after-effect.

Dementia, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, movement disorders, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s are all examples of illnesses that would be diagnosed and treated by a neurologist.

Education Requirements to Become a Neurologist

A neurologist is a medical doctor that specializes in neurology.

To become neurologist, you’ll first need to become a medical doctor.

If you’re in high school, concentrate on getting good grades.

Enter a four year bachelors degree in college that offers a good pre-medicine major.

After college you’ll need to attend four years of medical school.

Your acceptance into medical school will be based on your grade point average in college, an interview, and medical school examinations.

In the first two years of medical school you’ll complete theory, then in the later years have more of an opportunity to interact with patients.

After you graduate from medical school, you’ll be able to take your exams to gain certification in your state.

You’ll then need to complete a one year internship at a hospital.

to find out about certification requirements in your state, have a look at the Federation of State Medical Boards.

After your internship, you will need to complete a residency in neurology.

This will take between 1 and 3 years to complete.

After this you can apply to the American Board of Medical Specialties to become a certified neurologist.

Neurologist Job Description

A neurologist works with patients with diseases of the nervous system, usually affecting the brain and spine.

A neurologist’s job begins when they are referred a patient, usually by another doctor.

They will study the patient’s history and any previous test results.

Usually, there is then an initial consultation with a patient.

They may perform a range of tests, including CAT and MRI scans.

Other tests may be as simple as the patient solving puzzles or answering questions.

The results will form part of a diagnosis.

After the neurologist has formed a diagnosis, they will then design a treatment plan for a patient.

Some disorders can be cured, others can only be managed.

A treatment plan could involve pharmacy drugs, changes to diet, mental activity such as crosswords, further sessions with a neurologist, or a referral to a specialist such as a neuropsychiatrist.

Here are some of the tasks of a neurologist:

  • Examining patient records
  • Meeting with a patient
  • Performing a range of tests
  • Ordering other tests and scans
  • Forming a diagnosis
  • Preparing a treatment plan
  • Communicating with other medical staff

Neurologist Salary and Career Path

Most neurologists work within hospitals, where they are referred patients internally, or from other medical doctors.

Some work in consulting rooms, which they may share with other practitioners.

Once you become a neurologist, you may choose to complete a fellowship to gain a specialty in a particular area.

You might also go on to complete other research work, or even publish papers as to your findings.

Some people in this field go on to supervisor’s positions within a hospital, such as head of medicine, or head of research.

Some in this field may go on to teach in a college or medical school.

Neurologists have the capacity to earn a high income.

The median income for a doctor working in a field of specialty is $338,000 a year.

Medicine is a high growth area, so job opportunities in this field are set to be excellent.

Those in rural areas will have better prospects than those in urban areas.

Some similar roles to that of neurologist include:

  • Medical doctor
  • Chiropractor
  • Psychologist
  • Psychiatrist
  • Neuropsychiatrist
  • Podiatrist

If you’re looking for a challenging career in medicine that allows for plenty of patient contact, then you might like to become a neurologist.

Although you’ll spend plenty of years in school, after your graduate there is a very secure job available for you with an excellent salary.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Arkansas- NA -
District of Columbia$162,650
New Hampshire$304,000
New Jersey$243,590
New Mexico$314,760
New York$182,040
North Carolina$303,230
Rhode Island$279,640
South Carolina$290,010
South Dakota$308,160
West Virginia$158,250
Puerto Rico$71,660

The top earning state in the field is Missouri, where the average salary is $340,150.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Missouri - $340,150
Oklahoma - $327,540
Wisconsin - $314,820
New Mexico - $314,760
Minnesota - $308,190
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for General Internal Medicine Physicians, OCC Code 29-1216, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a neurologist?

Neurologists are physicians specialized in diagnosing and treating disorders that affect the brain, the spinal cord, and nerves.

The most common diseases that can be treated by neurologists are strokes, headache disorders, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, infections of the nervous system and speech and language disorders.

Many neurologists choose to specialize in one area of neurology, such as stroke, epilepsy, or movement disorders.

Neurologists can find employment in hospitals, private practices, or healthcare clinics.

Like all medical doctors, neurologists need many years of training and a special set of personal skills, including compassion, patience, communication skills and attention to details.

Neurologists often work long hours in order to accommodate their patients’ needs.

This can be a very rewarding career (both personally and financially) but it is also emotionally and physically challenging.

How much does a neurologist make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for surgeons and physicians, in general, was equal to or greater than $208,000 as of May 2018.

However, neurologists can make anywhere between less than $200,000 and more than $500,000 a year, depending on their level of experience, education, employer, specialty and region of employment.

How much does it cost to become a neurologist?

Like all physicians, neurologists start their medical training with four years of medical school.

Med school can cost you anywhere between less than $30,000 and more than $60,000 a year, depending on the school you choose.

Before applying to a medical school you will need to earn your bachelor’s degree.

Many prospective physicians choose to major in biology, chemistry, or a related field.

Pre-med programs will cost you somewhere between $15,000 and more than $60,000 a year.

After finishing medical school and earning their Doctor of Medicine degree, future neurologists continue their training with several years of residency.

What is the demand for neurologists?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of physicians and surgeons is expected to grow 7 percent from 2018 to 2028 but the demand varies depending on the physician’s specialty.

Neurologists who specialize in treating diseases that affect aging baby boomers (eg. strokes or movement disorders) should have better job prospects.

Additional job opportunities may be available for neurologists who are willing to relocate to underserved areas.

How long does it take to become a neurologist?

Neurologists need at least 12 years of training before being able to practice.

The first 4 years are spent in undergraduate school followed by another 4 years of medical school.

After medical school neurologists need 4 additional years of training consisting of an internship and residency.

After finishing the residency period all physicians must take the licensure exam in order to be able to practice.

If you want to specialize in a particular sub-field of neurology you will need to complete a fellowship that is around 1-2 years long.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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