A psychology career unlike any other, based ashore, at sea and even overseas. You will have the opportunity to experience a number of areas within organisational and military psychology.

  • Service
  • Specialisation
  • Location
  • Starting Salary

About the role

As a Psychologist, your role in the RNZN is broad and varied. Navy Psychologists are regularly involved in challenging professional tasks within the New Zealand Defence Force that require psychological knowledge and expertise.

You need to have a Masters Degree in Psychology before applying, and you may be funded to become a member of the New Zealand Psychological Society and an appropriate professional body of your choice to ensure your specialised skills remain current. There is also support to continue studying through education assistance that helps financially with fees for courses that are job related, and opportunities to continue to develop your knowledge through a variety of conferences and workshops. The process to becoming a registered Psychologist takes approximately 14 months.

If already registered, you will be introduced to the role of an RNZN psychologist through a series of projects relevant to the Defence Force. If unregistered, the Navy will finance and supervise you through your journey to become a NZ registered psychologist.

Job on base

Your role is demanding yet fulfilling and provides exposure to a number of areas within the disciplines of organisational and military psychology. Navy Psychologists are regularly involved in challenging professional tasks within the New Zealand Defence Force that require psychological knowledge and expertise.

Job on deployment

Another significant area of work involves support to operations. As an RNZN psychologist, you will have the opportunity to provide support to crew onboard a ship at sea. You will also be part of a wider team of NZDF psychologists. All NZDF psychologists are involved in providing education and support to individuals and formations heading overseas on deployments, as well as providing support and screening for those returning from missions. From time to time, this work occurs outside NZ so you may be called upon to serve overseas temporarily.

Career progression and training

Career Progression

Basic training

After completing Junior Officer Common Training you will join the Organisational Psychology Department, where you will undergo two weeks of induction training. This will involve meeting all the relevant personnel and introducing you to the variety of roles that are undertaken by psychologists.

Following the completion of your registration, you will continue consolidating your experience and skills learnt within the Organisational Psychology Department. During this time you will become eligible to go to sea or overseas, to provide deployment related support. You are also likely to get involved in more joint activities than other branches such as specialised selection boards.

After working as a registered Psychologist for a minimum of 2 years you will also have the opportunity to move into other roles within the wider Defence Force, including positions based in Wellington. Opportunities for psychologists exist within RNZN and Defence Force Headquarters and the Joint Forces New Zealand Headquarters.


Junior Officer Common Training (JOCT)

(24 weeks) Location: Devonport Naval Base

The objective of JOCT is to provide you with the core skills of military, mariner, and leadership to be an effective Officer in the Navy. The course is completed in two phases of training that train key areas of development.

Phase 1 – Introduction

This phase focuses on ‘followership’ and teamwork. Trainees are instructed in basic service knowledge, discipline, parade, and kit preparation. Physical Training will be conducted at all times throughout training to develop a high level of physical and mental fitness that promotes morale, good health, and good habits. This phase will cover various topics including:

  • Physical Fitness       
  • Service Knowledge
  • Service Discipline
  • Introduction to the Leadership Development Framework
  • Damage Control Training
  • Weapons Training
  • First Aid
  • Basic seamanship training
  • Moving to advanced application
Phase 2 – Fit for Sea

The second phase of training will focus on attributes of being in the Navy in preparation for operational service at sea. Trainees will be taught about the roles and responsibilities on board an RNZN ship. Trainees will also spend time ashore conducting academic and leadership training to further develop as a Naval Officer. This phase will cover various topics including:

  • Sea survival
  • Ship familiarisation
  • Leadership training
  • Communications skills
  • Defence and Strategic Studies
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WATCH | How our Psychologists help enhance the performance of individuals and teams across the NZDF.

Salary and benefits

Careers in the Navy are well-rewarded, as well as being diverse and exciting. As you become more experienced and move up through the ranks, gaining additional skills and qualifications, you will see your salary rise accordingly.


Masters Graduate


Higher Rank

Military factor

All full time members of the NZ Defence Force receive an added portion to their salary known as Military Factor. This additional compensation recognises the unique nature of military service and the commitment you make to serve your country. This can include short notice postings around the country and overseas. You will be directed at times to be continuously alert, undertake arduous and hazardous duties, and be exposed to adverse working environments exclusive to military life. This also includes the exercise of military skills not recognised by market comparisons. The part you play in our Defence Force and your commitment to our country will be financially rewarded.

Free and subsidised medical and dental care

Access to subsidised equipment on base

Subsidised food on base

Competitive superannuation, up to 4% with KiwiSaver

Sponsored tertiary study programmes at all levels

Entry requirements


Fitness and Medical


Period of Service

  • Hold a Masters Degree in Psychology preferably with an I/O focus.
  • Meet the citizenship and security requirements to gain SV security clearance for this trade.
  • You must be medically fit for service.
  • Be free of any criminal convictions for the previous two years.
  • Pass an Officer Selection Board.
  • Must pass the Navy swim test, conducted wearing overalls and gym shoes:
    • Swim of 50 metres and, on completion,
    • Remain afloat unaided by treading water for three minutes.

There are strict citizenship and security requirements to gain the SV security clearance required for this trade. You must be free of any criminal convictions for the previous two years.

Find out if you’re eligible here.

There may be a return of service period for this trade.

Please contact our 0800 number or talk to your Candidate Experience Facilitator for more information.


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