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 Trade Training

WATCH | How our Psychologists help enhance the performance of individuals and teams across the NZDF.

About the role

As a Military Psychologist, you’ll be employed as a Commissioned Military Officer. You will be involved in a broad range of organisational and military psychology activities. These range from conducting recruitment and selection activities, performance orientated coaching, and supporting operational deployments, humanitarian relief and peacekeeping activities.

Applicants must have a Master’s Degree in Psychology or be in their final year of study, preferably with at least one paper in Industrial and Organisational Psychology. A minimum of a B average in the last two years of full-time psychology study is required.

If already registered as a psychologist, you will be introduced to the role through a series of projects relevant to the Defence Force. If unregistered, the Directorate of Psychology 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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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.


Starting Trade Training


Future Potential Earnings

Figures updated on July 1st 2023

Military factor

Earn a competitive salary while training or learning your trade, along with additional allowances for time spent in the field, at sea, overseas, or deployed on operations.

In addition to salary and allowances, other benefits of joining the New Zealand Defence Force include:

Access to your Service marae or tūrangawaewae

Sponsored tertiary study programmes at all levels

Free access to gyms and swimming pools on camp and bases

Opportunities to travel

Free and subsidised medical and dental care

Subsidised food and accommodation on camps and bases

Free and subsidised insurance cover

Help to buy a home and save for retirement

Entry requirements


Fitness and Medical


Return of Service

  • Hold a Master’s Degree in Psychology or be in your final year of study, preferably with at least one paper in Industrial and Organisational Psychology.
  • A minimum of a B average in the last two years of full-time psychology study is required.

There are strict citizenship and security requirements to gain the required SV security clearance for this trade.

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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