Navy Psychology Careers
What Is Navy Psychology?
Military careers are well known for causing a number of mental and emotional health problems. A Navy career is no exception.
Being trapped on vessels at sea for days, weeks, or even months at a time can lead to a variety of problems and negatively affect a person's psyche. Navy sailors are also at risk of developing the same mental and emotional problems that afflict other members of the military as well.
Navy psychology is a special branch of psychology that focuses on sailors and officers in the United States Navy. The aim of this branch of psychology is to assess, prevent, and treat a number of different mental and emotional problems experienced by sailors as well as their families.
Professionals in the naval psychology field will often live and work very close to the sailors that they are responsible for treating. Naval vessels are usually very small and cramped, and naval teas - including sailors, officers, and psychologists, among others - are often crammed together for extended periods of time in very tight quarters. This can make Navy psychology careers even more difficult than traditional psychology careers, but they are also very rewarding.
It has long been understood that individuals in the different branches of the military - such as the Navy - are at risk of developing a wide range of mental and emotional problems. It has only been just recently that these military branches have begun to emphasize the need for preventing and treating mental health problems. Today, as with other types of military psychology, the field of Navy psychology continues to grow.
Spotlight Degree Offering for Navy Psychologists
Why Do We Need Navy Psychology?
The brave men and women that enlist in our nation's naval forces make a number of sacrifices to serve their country. They leave behind loved ones - parents, siblings, spouses, and children - knowing that there is a possibility that they will never return. They wake up every day, knowing that there's a possibility that they will have to take another human's life.
Navy psychologists work to ease sailors' minds and help them work through the emotional turmoil that comes with a military career. Sailors that are mentally and emotionally stable are not only happier and healthier, but also more effective and competent during wartime, when we need them the most. Navy psychologists also make it easier for sailors to adapt to civilian life after being discharged from duty.
What Do Navy Psychologists Do?
Navy psychologists might play a number of roles during their careers.
They may perform mental health evaluations before a prospective sailor enlists, for instance, to ensure that he is capable of handling life in the Navy. These mental health evaluations might also be given after a sailor returns from leave and after he leaves the Navy.
In general, Navy psychologists interact with sailors nearly every day. They observe and assess them, and if necessary, diagnose them with possible mental illnesses. Some common problems encountered by Navy service members might include cabin fever, claustrophobia, problems sleeping, depression, anxiety, grief, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These conditions might be caused by such things as being away from loved ones, naval battles, injuries, or even just being cooped up.
Treatment for the various disorders that Navy service members might suffer from can vary. Navy psychologists can use therapy and counseling techniques, for example, including one-on-one counseling and group therapy. With the guidance of Navy psychologists, sailors can open up about their problems, develop goals for their futures, cope with their problems, and readapt to civilian life.
Navy psychologists are also often called upon to help the families and loved ones of sailors in need as well. They may offer counseling services to sailors and their spouses, for instance, or help loved ones cope with the deployment or deaths of sailors during wartime.
Some Navy psychologists are also responsible for working with and treating service members after they have been discharged from the Navy. This usually involves treating mental and emotional problems that are caused by the stress of war, such as substance abuse, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Where Do Navy Psychologists Work?
In order to help sailors in need of mental treatment, Navy psychologists must usually be very close to them. This usually means that they live and work on board Navy vessels, such as large ships and submarines. Aspiring Navy psychologists with a proclivity toward seasickness, however, may be able to work in naval and military clinics, hospitals, and deployment and recruitment centers.
What Are the Education Requirements to Become a Navy Psychologist?
Starting a Navy psychology career is similar to starting a traditional psychology career. Students interested in starting a Navy psychology career should first earn bachelor's degrees in an area like general psychology, clinical psychology, or counseling psychology.
Aspiring Navy psychologists are also required to earn graduate degrees as well, such as master's degrees and doctoral degrees. These degrees can be earned at traditional universities, but many individuals pursuing navy psychology careers will usually choose to attend a naval or military school to enroll in the clinical psychology Ph. D. program at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. Tuition for this education is free for individuals who promise to enlist in the military for a certain amount of time.
A one year internship as a Navy psychologist is also usually required before starting a Navy psychology career.
|School Programs||Average Education Length||Choosing Online or Campus|
|1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree||View Programs||4 Years||Online or Campus|
|2. Earn A Master's Degree||View Programs||2 Additional Years||Online or Campus|
|3. Earn a PHD or PsyD||View Programs||2-4 Additional Years||Online or Campus|
What Is the Average Salary of a Navy Psychologist?
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that civilian clinical and counseling psychologists earn a median salary of $90,130 as of May 2022. However, figuring out a Navy psychologist’s pay is a little less straightforward.
In general, a Sailor’s base pay is determined based on rank and time served. According to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, licensed civilian psychologists can enroll in the Navy’s Clinical Psychology Licensed Direct Accession program and receive commissions as Navy Lieutenants upon completion of Officer Development School and a one-week Navy medical course. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service says Navy Lieutenants with less than two years of service earn a base monthly salary of $4,849.80 as of January 2023 — far below the figure the BLS quotes for civilian professionals.
However, members of the US Armed Forces often receive monthly stipends for housing and food as well as free or low-cost health insurance. Additionally, Walter Reed’s website says that in the past, members of the Navy’s Clinical Psychology Licensed Direct Accession program have been eligible for, “accession bonuses as high as $60,000, and retention bonuses of up to $30,000 a year for three years.” While these benefits can put a Navy psychologist’s pay above the civilian mean, it’s important to note that these numbers are subject to change. Similarly, Sailors who complete their psychology studies while already in the Navy may have different salary expectations.
Learn more about what it takes to become a psychologist in the Navy.
2022 US Bureau of Labor Statistics job market trends and salary figures for clinical psychologists are based on national data, not school-specific information. Base pay for Naval Officers is based on information from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. Bonuses and benefits are not guaranteed. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed June 2023.