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Aerospace & Operational Physiologist

Navy pilot is tested by a team of Aerospace and Operational Physiologists

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Aerospace and Operational Physiologists are experts in human factors and physiological threats related to military operations. In this role, you’ll use your knowledge to help pilots, Sailors and Marines endure and succeed in challenging environments. Your specific responsibilities may include:

  • Providing education and training to Sailors and Marines
  • Human performance support human systems integration
  • Researching and developing systems to support human systems in Navy work environments
  • Integrating, testing and evaluating human systems aboard Navy jets, vessels and facilities
  • Administering, developing or improving survival training programs and techniques
  • Assisting with aerospace and operational personnel selection and training
  • Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation (RDT&E) aimed at improving aviator performance and aircrew survivability
  • Administering, developing or improving Aeromedical operational and safety programs

Work Environment

As an Aerospace and Operational Physiologist, you could work at Aviation Survival Training Centers, Naval Medical Research Units, Marine Aircraft Groups and Navy Air Wings, among other commands spread across the country - from Washington to Florida, and across the Pacific from Hawaii to Japan.

Training & Advancement

Upon graduation from graduate school, those pursuing an Aerospace and Operational Physiologist 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.

Aeromedical Officer Training (Pensacola, FL) - 6 weeks of specialized training to prepare you for the team-oriented lifestyle and professionalism of Naval Aviation. Training covers altitude physiology, aeromedical aspects of flight, sensory physiology, aviation life support systems, acceleration physiology, emergency egress, water survival, aircraft mishap procedures. Students must demonstrate aeronautical adaptability skills in order to complete training.

Upon completion of training, you will advance to a required two-year internship, after which you will be granted your first duty assignment.

Promotion opportunities are regularly available but competitive and based on performance. Promotion opportunities include but are not limited to:

  • Serving in the field as an Aeromedical Safety Officer
  • Focusing on research & development as an Aviation Life-Support Systems Specialist
  • Advising high-ranking Navy and Marine Corps officials on policy and procedures in an Executive role

Post-Service Opportunities

It’s also 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.

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

A degree from a four-year college or university is a minimum educational requirement to become a Commissioned Officer. You must also attend Officer Training. There may be exceptions to the degree requirements based on extensive service experience.

To qualify for employment consideration as an Aerospace and Operational Physiologist in the Navy Medical Service Corps, you must meet the following basic requirements:

  • Be U.S. citizen currently practicing in the United States
  • Be between the ages of 18 and 41
  • Be in good physical condition and pass a full medical examination
  • Be willing to serve a minimum of three years of Active Duty following your internship

You must also meet the following specific requirements:

  • Possess a Master’s or doctoral degree in physiology (cardiovascular, pulmonary, neuro, exercise or occupational). Applicants with related degrees (biology, biomedical engineering, kinesiology, zoology or other biological sciences) will be considered if appropriate physiology and anatomy courses are completed. Applicants with significant military aviation experience who have completed a bachelor's degree in a biological science will be considered.
  • Complete coursework in organic chemistry, an additional chemistry course (e.g. biochemistry or inorganic chemistry), physics, college mathematics, statistics, anatomy, and physiology. The following courses are highly recommended: biochemistry, biomechanics, comparative anatomy, histology, microbiology, and calculus
  • Earn a GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale in each degree awarded
  • Complete an interview with two aerospace physiologists
  • Possess good swimming ability and meet specific physical requirements for flight. For details, request a medical recruiter contact you.

You may also be expected to meet certain preferred requirements:

  • Previous experience as an instructor or teacher
  • Strong personal endorsements in areas of initiative, teamwork and leadership
  • Military or general aviation experience
  • Public speaking experience
  • Strong interest in military aviation

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 Physiologists 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 Physiologists 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 Physiologists 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.