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Cognitive Science Careers

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Cognitive science, the science of mental processes, is a field that spans a wide range of subjects. As an interdisciplinary field encompassing human-based subjects as well as technology, its flexibility and diversity gives it applications in careers as varied as advertising, computer science, criminal justice and health science. It is a field that will grow in the future.

Cognitive Science

Cognitive science seeks to understand the workings of the human mind. While the field is relatively new, it includes many academic studies that have been around for a long time. The Cognitive Science Society recognizes this, including artificial intelligence, linguistics, anthropology, psychology, neuroscience, philosophy and education as the components of cognitive science. An education in cognitive science opens doors to many careers. Unlike other majors that are more narrowly defined, a degree in cognitive science exposes a student to many aspects of human endeavors as well as an understanding of the impact of technology.

Behaviorist Opportunities

Opportunities abound where understanding human behavior is important. A background in cognitive science is invaluable for a career in criminal justice. Police and parole officers all benefit by having a better understanding of how people think. A mental health clinician can gain great insight from having a cognitive science background. This field helps industrial psychologists, who study ways to make employees more productive. Creative workers in advertising also can benefit from a background in cognitive science. A bachelor's degree is sufficient to land a job, although you will earn more and have more promotion opportunities with an advanced degree.

Cognitive Psychology

A cognitive psychologist studies how people learn, perceive the world around them, process information and remember. Because of its importance in our thought processes, cognitive psychologists study memory extensively. Perceptions -- how people view the world -- offer insight into future behavior and outcomes. These professionals help patients build memory capacity, overcome learning disabilities and build social skills. Career opportunities are numerous for this specialty. Cognitive psychologists can find employment in hospitals and clinics, research and government. For those who prefer self-employment, there is private practice, with some working as consultants, while others offer their services as expert witnesses. Psychologists need a Ph.D. to practice in this field.

Careers in Technology

Computer technology and software development are areas where demand for employees trained in cognitive science is high. Understanding the nature of the human mind helps programmers build interfaces to make computers more user friendly. Multimedia designers also benefit by having a better understanding of thought processes. Cognitive science has applications in neural networking and artificial intelligence, where scientists build models to replicate human thought processes. Work of this nature is on the cutting edge of computer technology, and an advanced degree, while not necessary, is very beneficial.


Thomas Metcalf has worked as an economist, stockbroker and technology salesman. A writer since 1997, he has written a monthly column for "Life Association News," authored several books and contributed to national publications such as the History Channel's "HISTORY Magazine." Metcalf holds a master's degree in economics from Tufts University.

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