How Do I Become a Military Psychologist?

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  • Written By: Jennifer Leigh
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 16 January 2019
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Military psychologists work with individuals in the military to work through emotional and mental situations they may be facing. The job takes places both on military bases and in the field, due to the stress that can take place in combat situations. To become a military psychologist it is necessary to first become a psychologist and then apply for a job working with the military, either as a civilian or as part of a military organization. Those in these positions typically engage in clinical work and research as well as working to help family members of those who have lost loved ones during their military service.

Psychologists have Doctor of Philosophy degrees (PhD) in the area of psychology. This educational endeavor takes many years to complete, as it is necessary to first receive an undergraduate degree before going on for a master's and then the PhD. Undergraduate majors vary but are often in the field of psychology. The overall course of study after high school takes at least seven to ten years to complete. PhD programs in psychology are very competitive, so top grades are essential, as are good professional references and participation in extracurricular activities.


You may choose to become a military psychologist by either enlisting in the military and working as a psychologist after receiving psychological training, or finding a job in a setting where working with those in the armed forces is common. These locations may include Veterans Hospitals, a military compound or base, or in a university. Duties may include research, directly working on military issues, or working with the families of those who have been affected by military life.

These psychologists help patients work through a variety of emotional situations unique to those serving in the armed forces. Common issues dealt with by those who become a military psychologist can include post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, grief and anxiety. Psychologists do not have the ability to prescribe drugs, but offer therapy and counseling for individuals and families. Additionally, they may work with physicians to define a treatment plan for patients requiring medication.

Research is also undertaken to help prevent common problems that affect those serving in the military. When an individual decides to become a military psychologist they may work to help in pioneering new therapies. Those choosing to become a military psychologist may also look at conditions that enlisted personnel face as well as ways that stress can be minimized.



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