Quite often, active military service leads to emotional and mental distress and war trauma, for both, the military personnel and their loved ones. This can seriously affect their lives, thoughts and actions. Military psychologists help the affected people deal with the issues arising in their lives due to war trauma. Typical issues military psychologists deal with are depression, anxiety and substance abuse. Unlike usual psychologists, military psychologists are trained to deal with the special needs of the members of the armed forces.

If you want to become a part of this sub-field of psychology, you might want to go through the following guide on how to become a military psychologist in the US.

Should I Become a Military Psychologist?

If you think you have what it takes to handle working in distressing environments, dealing with the after effects of traumatic situations and providing emotional and mental support to those on active duty, becoming a military psychologist might be the right career path for you.

A lot of the times, military psychologists are expected to work on army bases in different countries, sometimes in the middle of war zones. Other times, these professionals may be employed by organizations such as the Service Headquarter Commands or may choose to work in the research sector.

The following table provides a quick look into the career of a military psychologist. Since the US Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide data specifically for military psychologists, we will be using statistics for Clinical, Counseling and School Psychologists.

Education Required Professional or Doctoral Degree
Training Required
Licenses/Certifications Required
Key Skills/Qualities Organizational Skills, Communication Skills, Problem Solving, Leadership Skills, Patience, Attention to Detail, Observation Skills
Annual Mean Salary (2019) $87,450 (Clinical, Counseling and School Psychologists)
Job Outlook (2018-28) 14% (Psychologists)

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Outlook for a Military Psychologist

Military psychologists are expected to remain in demand in the coming years, as veterans and their families continue to need mental treatments. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has listed the job outlook for all psychologists, including military psychologists as 14%, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. This demand is expected to add 26,100 new jobs for psychologists in the time period from 2018 to 2028.

Steps to Become a Military Psychologist

  1. Get a Bachelor’s Degree
  2. Even though this degree does not need to be in a specific major, students are recommended to take up courses in natural sciences.

  1. Get a Master’s Degree in Psychology
  2. Getting this 2-year degree is an optional step on the way to becoming a military psychologist. Students who have no prior knowledge on the subject can benefit from this degree.

  1. Complete a Doctoral Degree
  2. A professional or a doctoral degree is the least amount of educational qualification required to become a military psychologist. Students can go for a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree. For those who want to go into practicing military psychology, a Psy.D. would be more suited.

  1. Complete the Experience Requirements for Licensure
  2. Every state has a different amount of experience required in order to be eligible for licensure. In most cases, this would be around 2 years of supervised professional experience.

  1. Get a License
  2. All states in the US require psychologists to be licensed. Each state has its own board of psychology that provides guidelines on the process for license application and renewal. You are advised to check with your local board for more information on licensure for military psychologists.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Military Psychologist?

In order to become a military psychologist, students will need to invest nearly 10 to 12 years of their academic life. This would include a 4-year long bachelor’s degree, followed by a 4-year long doctoral program and 2 years of experience before licensure.

What Are the Requirements to Become a Military Psychologist?

To become a military psychologist in the US, students will need to fulfill the following requirements:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree
  • Have a doctoral degree
  • Complete professional experience hours
  • Get a license

How Much Can I Earn as a Military Psychologist?

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide a separate listing for military psychologists. It does, however, provide the mean annual salary for Clinical, Counseling and School Psychologists as $87,450 in 2019.