Extensive education and training is required when you want to become a brain specialist, a career that involves treating diseases, illnesses, and injuries that affect the brain. You will have to complete high school, college, and medical school, which generally means a total of 12 years of schooling. Then you will typically have to complete a residency and perhaps a fellowship, providing training first in the general practice of medicine and then in the specialty of neurology. Finally, you will generally have to pass additional exams to obtain a medical license and obtain board certification.

Before you can begin the education required to become a brain specialist, you will generally have to obtain a high school education or take the exams required to earn an equivalency diploma to gain admission to college. The academic courses you take in college and a high GPA will help you gain admission to the college of your choice. All the high school courses you take will prepare you for college, but the ones you take in science, math, and health can provide particularly important preparation for rigorous undergraduate and medical programs.

Typically, you will need to complete four years of college, and since you will need a medical degree to become a brain specialist, your college years can be viewed as preparation for medical school. It is common for people interested in this career to specialize in premedicine, or at least focus on sciences such as biology or chemistry. However, many medical schools will accept students who majored in other subjects, particularly if they have a high GPA and perform well on standardized tests. Regardless of which major you choose, you will probably do well to include multiple science class credits in your program in preparation for medical school and show that you can excel in these types of courses.

Attending medical school is the typical next step you will take when you want to become a brain specialist. Medical school generally lasts about four years and provides the in-depth education necessary to become a doctor. Your studies in medical school will likely include classroom learning, as well as a fair amount of learning in laboratory settings. Typically, you will also have the opportunity to observe doctors examine, diagnose, and treat patients, and may have some supervised interaction with patients.

Once your medical school years finish, you will still need on-the-job training to prepare to work in this field and secure the license that your jurisdiction requires. Typically, you will receive this training in the form of a residency caring for patients with decreasing levels of supervision from other medical staff. The length of residency depends on the country in which you are training, but it often lasts between six and eight years. You can also participate in one or two years of fellowship training, which is on-the-job training in a subspecialty.

Most jurisdictions will require you to pass a licensing exam to become a brain specialist. You can also seek board certification in your specialty. Peer review is often part of the board’s certification process as well.