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How To Become A Military Psychologist: Career And Salary Information

Wars and rumors of wars, all of it is equally unsettling and adds fear to everyone on this planet. When wars are fought, no one is immune, and everyone is affected either directly or indirectly. But when wars are fought, we often think of it as one country against another. We forget that there are actual people that are expected to fight the war while representing their country.

People who are in the military face many challenges before being deployed, while they are away, and upon return. The mental and emotional load that military personnel face is monumental. First, they need to go through the preparation of leaving their family for weeks, months, and sometimes years on end.

When they are away from their families, they have to face difficulties and see things that most of us are lucky enough to never have to witness. This often leaves them coming back home to their loved ones facing severe post-traumatic stress disorders. They then also need to find a way to integrate back into society after being exposed to war and violence.

It is for this reason that the field of military psychology exists, to specifically treat military veterans with expertise targeted at the difficulties that they have experienced and that they need to receive.

To become a military psychologist, you would need to earn a graduate degree, you would then need to complete an internship to gain hands-on experience, complete and obtain your license and certification, and lastly, you would need to maintain your license and certifications.

Let us take a closer look at the role of military psychologists and what steps you would need to take to pursue this role.

What Is A Military Psychologist?

A military psychologist provides the role of a counselor to military personnel and their families predominantly after they have returned from their tour.

They play the role of counseling military veterans as many come back and face severe mental illnesses and disorders as a result of being enlisted. While families are left behind, their turmoil isn't less than those of military personnel, and families often find themselves suffering from severe stress and anxiety when their family members are away for long periods of time.

What Does A Military Psychologist Do?

Military psychologists provide psychological analysis, diagnosis, and treatment for mental and emotional disabilities and illnesses, and they also provide in-depth counseling services to both veterans and their families.

They provide treatment specifically targeted at PTSD and rehabilitation from the trauma that may have been faced during a veteran's tour.

Military psychologists may also work with social workers in getting the veterans secure and long-term employment and helping them develop their relationships, while actively working towards aiding them in integrating back into society.

Steps To Become A Military Psychologist

Step One: Complete A Bachelor's Degree

You would first need to obtain a bachelor's degree in psychology with coursework around social psychology, behavioral psychology, and abnormal psychology. You would also need to take courses in counseling to provide the best treatment for military patients and their families.

Step Two: Obtain Graduate Degrees

Once you have completed your bachelor's degree, you would need to complete either a master's degree or a doctoral degree in psychology, social work, or counseling. There are specific courses that you can pursue which are geared toward treating military veterans.

Step Three: Complete An Internship

To gain rehabilitation and counseling knowledge and expertise, you need to gain hands-on experience. This allows you to put the knowledge that you have acquired academically into practice. This also trains you and equips you with some of the harrowing stories you may face.

Step Four: Gain Certification And Licensure

To treat military veterans, you would need to pass the National Counselor Examination to become licensed and you would need to be certified by an association body stating that you are qualified and experienced to both counsel and work with war veterans through their rehabilitation process.

You can also obtain certification to counsel military veterans from the National Board of Certified Counselors.

Step Five: Maintain Your Licenses And Certifications

As with all psychology qualifications, you would need to make sure that you maintain your licensure and certifications to stay abreast of any developments in the field of military psychology. This ensures that you are always able to provide your patients with the best, uncompromised, and unwavering treatment.

What Degree Do You Need To Be A Military Psychologist?

You would need a doctoral degree in psychology, social work, or counseling to effectively treat military patients who suffer from mental illnesses and disorders.

What Is The Average Salary For A Military Psychologist?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), those in the field of psychology, which encompasses multiple subfields of psychology, earn a median annual salary of $81,040.

What Makes A Good Military Psychologist?

In addition to having analytical skills, observational skills, and problem-solving skills, military psychologists need to have patience, they need to have understanding, and they need to be able to convey a strong sense of empathy toward what patients and their families may be facing.

In many instances, readjusting to civil society is not just difficult for the veteran, but for their family as well. And while families are more than happy to have their loved ones back and safe from all danger, they may miss the days when the seemingly endless work and effort weren't required. As a psychologist, you would need to understand these complex emotions and help the patients and their families work through these emotions.


What Is The Role Of A Military Psychologist?

Serving in the role of a clinical psychologist and as a counselor, it is up to the military psychologist to diagnose and treat mental disorders and illnesses that have been caused by exposure to war and to extreme and excessive violence.

Is Military Psychology A Good Career?

Provided you are passionate about your career, you have a deep yearning to help others, and you are not easily disturbed by the horror stories that most veterans have lived through then yes, being a military psychologist is an extremely fulfilling role to pursue.

Do Military Psychologists Get Deployed?

In some cases, military psychologists are deployed with the army, the navy, marines, the air force, and other members of the defense force as a way of providing on-field and on-site counseling services.


It is without a doubt that the roles and duties of military psychologists are hard to face. Given the circumstances surrounding the help that patients may need, they are required to help those who have seen the worse that the world has to offer. It is for that reason that they are required to have a strong passion and need to help others overcome the difficulties that life often presents.

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