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Neuropathologist vs. Neurologist: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

Neuropathologists and neurologists are both medical professionals who specialize in the nervous system. However, their job duties, educational requirements and career outlooks differ in several ways. In this article, we compare and contrast these two professions, including their job duties, educational requirements and average salaries.

What is a Neuropathologist?

Neuropathologists are doctors who specialize in the diagnosis of diseases of the nervous system. They use a variety of techniques to examine the brain and spinal cord, including microscopes, to look for evidence of disease. Neuropathologists often work with other doctors, such as neurologists and psychiatrists, to help diagnose and treat patients with nervous system disorders. They may also conduct research to develop new ways to diagnose and treat these disorders.

What is a Neurologist?

A neurologist is a medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating disorders of the nervous system. This includes the brain, the spinal cord, and the nerves that connect them. Neurologists use a variety of tests and procedures to diagnose and treat neurological disorders. These can include physical exams, neurological exams, brain imaging tests, and nerve function tests. Once a diagnosis is made, a neurologist can provide treatment options, which may include medication, surgery, or rehabilitation.

Neuropathologist vs. Neurologist

Here are the main differences between a neuropathologist and a neurologist.

Job Duties

Neurologists and neuropathologists perform different duties to fulfill their jobs. Neurologists examine patients who have neurological disorders, such as epilepsy or Alzheimer’s disease. They conduct physical examinations and ask patients questions about their symptoms. Based on this information, they may order diagnostic tests, such as MRIs or CT scans, to identify the source of the patient’s condition.

Neuropathologists study brain tissue samples from patients who underwent neurological exams or testing. They use specialized techniques to analyze these samples and determine if there are signs of a neurological disorder. These professionals also communicate with neurologists regarding test results so that the doctors can better treat their patients.

Job Requirements

Neuropathologists and neurologists must complete medical school to enter their respective fields. During medical school, students take classes on topics like human anatomy and physiology, medical ethics and pharmacology. They also complete clinical rotations in different areas of medicine, such as surgery, pediatrics or psychiatry. After completing medical school, neuropathologists and neurologists must obtain a license from the state they wish to practice in.

Both neuropathologists and neurologists must complete a residency program after medical school. Residency programs for neuropathologists typically last four years, while residencies for neurologists can last up to seven years. During their residencies, both neuropathologists and neurologists receive training in their specialty area. Neurologists also have the option to complete a fellowship after their residency, which provides additional training in a subspecialty of neurology, such as stroke, epilepsy or sleep disorders.

Work Environment

Both neurologists and neuropathologists work in hospitals, but they may also work in private practices or research facilities. Neuropathologists typically spend more time working in laboratories than neurologists do. They may perform autopsies on brain tissue to determine the cause of death for patients who have suffered from neurological disorders.

Neurologists usually work in outpatient settings, such as clinics and doctor’s offices. They may travel to different locations to provide care to their patients.


Both neuropathologists and neurologists need excellent communication skills. Neuropathologists often work with patients to collect their medical history and explain their diagnosis and treatment options. Neurologists also need to be able to communicate effectively with patients, as they must provide them with instructions for taking medication, making lifestyle changes and managing their condition.

Both of these professionals need critical-thinking skills to make accurate diagnoses. They both review test results and patient symptoms to determine the best course of action. However, neuropathologists also use their critical-thinking skills when they are conducting research to develop new treatments or cures for neurological diseases.

Neurologists need to have strong interpersonal skills because they often work with people who are experiencing a great deal of stress due to their condition. They need to be able to build rapport with their patients and help them feel comfortable discussing sensitive topics. Neuropathologists also need interpersonal skills when they are working with patients, but they may not need them to the same extent as neurologists because they are not typically providing ongoing care.


The average salary for a neuropathologist is $155,433 per year, while the average salary for a neurologist is $245,269 per year. The salary for both of these positions can vary depending on the location of the job, the level of experience and the type of employer.


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