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Aerospace Experimental Psychologist

A U.S. Navy Pilot prepares to launch an F/A-18E Super Hornet from the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman

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As a research specialist and Officer in the Medical Service Corps, your research will promote and ensure the safe and effective performance of Navy and Marine Corps personnel in aviation systems. This role may include the following responsibilities:

  • Provide professional and technical guidance to plan and conduct research and development
  • Test and evaluate the psychological effects of new aviation systems on flight crews
  • Employ your skills in human factors engineering to find ways to lessen the impact and emotional effects that accompany supersonic precision maneuvers in an F/A-18 Hornet Strike Fighter
  • Assist with personnel selection and training
  • Research and develop operational support and safety, and human performance enhancement technology and techniques
  • Complete monthly flight time to get direct experience with and feedback from Aviators

Work Environment

Navy Aerospace Experimental Psychologists may serve at any one of more than 250 Navy and medical facilities around the globe, from Hawaii to Japan, Germany to Guam, and Washington, D.C., to Washington state. You could work at one of the highly acclaimed National Naval Medical Centers in Bethesda, MD; Portsmouth, VA; and San Diego, CA. Or you could provide support to pilots and air crews aboard one of two dedicated hospital ships: the USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy. Still more health-care opportunities are available stateside and abroad in a variety of settings. Conducting research at any one of dozens of Navy hospitals located around the world, on board a surface ship, working closely with a nearby aircraft squadron, or even with the Fleet Marine Force.

AEPs serve as researchers, program managers, professors, trainers, and scientific advisors in a variety of positions across the continental US. AEPs receive new assignments every 3 years, typically to new locations in the continental US, which gives them broad experiences, and increasing levels of responsibility and leadership.

AEPs are required to put in monthly flight training and therefore will spend part of their career in the air.

Training & Advancement

Upon graduation from graduate school, those pursuing an Aerospace Experimental Psychologist position are required to attend Officer Development School (ODS) in Newport, RI. ODS is a 5-week program that provides a comprehensive and intense introduction to the responsibilities of Navy Staff Corps Officers. Here they learn about the military structure of the U.S. Navy, its rich history of traditions and customs, leadership development and military etiquette.

The Navy’s Aerospace Experimental Psychologists training course is six months in duration. Classes convene three times a year (December, August and October) at the Naval Aerospace and Operational Medical Institute (NAMI) at Naval Air Station in Pensacola, FL. The curriculum is divided into three major phases:

Operational Psychology Classroom Training (Pensacola, FL) - 12 weeks of instruction covering environmental physiology, medical training, human factors engineering and the physical stresses associated with flying.

Naval Aviation Schools Command (Pensacola, FL) - 7 weeks of Aviation Preflight indoctrination. This phase includes instruction in aircraft engines and systems, flight rules and regulations, meteorology, aerodynamics, navigation, aviation physiology and both water and land survival.

Aviation Training Command Wing (Milton, FL) - The remaining time in training is dedicated to flight instruction for direct observation of the stressors of flight. Training is conducted in the fixed-wing Beech craft T-34C (Turbo Mentor) and in the Bell TH-57 (Jet Ranger) helicopter.

Following training, you will receive your first assignment, and will likely rotate assignments every 3 years. Promotion opportunities are regularly available but competitive and based on performance.

Post Service Opportunities

It’s important to note that specialized training received and work experience gained in the course of service can lead to valuable credentialing and occupational opportunities in related fields in the civilian world.

Education Opportunities

Wherever you are in your professional career, the Navy can help ease your financial burdens and advance your career with generous financial assistance and continuing education programs. Opportunities for further education within this platform include:

Through the Navy Health Professions Loan Repayment Program (HPLRP), you may be eligible to receive financial assistance to pay down the cost of your graduate education.

Qualifications & Requirements

To qualify for employment consideration as an Aerospace Experimental Psychologist in the Navy Medical Service Corps, you must meet these basic requirements:

  • Be a U.S. citizen currently practicing in the United States
  • Ph.D. in psychology with primary emphasis in industrial, experimental, cognitive, organizational and/or human factors OR a Ph.D. in neuroscience, industrial engineering or an interdisciplinary program emphasizing human factors or behavioral science. Applicants who have completed a master's degree in one of the above areas and have four years of commissioned service will also be considered
  • Be willing to serve a minimum of three years of Active Duty
  • Be between the ages of 18 and 41
  • Be in good physical condition and pass a full medical examination
  • Meet aviation physical standards
  • Be able to swim and complete prescribed water survival training

General qualifications may vary depending upon whether you’re currently serving, whether you’ve served before or whether you’ve never served before.

Part-Time Opportunities

Serving part-time as a Navy Reserve Officer, your duties will be carried out during your scheduled drilling and training periods. During monthly drilling, Aerospace Experimental Psychologists in the Navy Reserve typically work at a location close to their homes. This gives you the flexibility to expand your profession in the Navy without compromising your civilian practice at home.

For Annual Training, Aerospace Experimental Psychologists may serve anywhere in the world, whether at sea, in hospitals stateside, or on bases in countries around the world.

Take a moment to learn more about the general roles and responsibilities of Navy Reserve Sailors.

Most of what you do in the Navy Reserve is considered training. The basic Navy Reserve commitment involves training a minimum of one weekend a month (referred to as drilling) and two weeks a year (referred to as Annual Training) – or the equivalent.

Aerospace Experimental Psychologists in the Navy Reserve serve in an Officer role. Before receiving the ongoing professional training that comes with this job, initial training requirements must first be met.

For current or former Navy Officers (NAVET): Prior experience satisfies the initial leadership training requirement, so you will not need to go through Officer Training again.

For current or former Officers of military branches other than the Navy (OSVET), as well as for Officer candidates without prior military experience: Officer Candidates are required to attend Officer Development School (ODS) in Newport, RI. ODS is a five-week program that provides a comprehensive and intense introduction to the responsibilities of Navy Staff Corps Officers. Officers who previously held a commission in another United States Military Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Public Health Service, or United States Coast Guard are exempt from attending ODS or LDO/CWO Academy.

With flexible training options, Medical Service Corps Officers in the Navy Reserve can comfortably balance civilian and military schedules. You can maintain your own life and your own career – enriching both with the rewarding work you do for others.

The Medical Service Corps in the Navy Reserve offers you a truly diverse variety of operational venues. In some cases, you can even work in the same civilian location you work in now. What’s more, you will enjoy an unrivaled sense of pride and fulfillment known only to those who serve.