Medical Careers in the Navy

Jul 06, 2018

There are many different options for individuals who want to work in the medical field while enlisted in the Navy. This article will highlight five of those careers in greater detail by exploring job duties, qualifications, and necessary skills.

The United States Navy offers a large number of diverse career paths, including many careers in the medical field. Individuals who join the Navy with the goal of working in medicine will find that they have many options, both those that provide training in the medical field as well as careers that are open to those who have already received medical training as civilians. We will look at a number of these careers in greater detail below.

Career Comparison

Job Title Average Military Salary (2016)* Number of Military Positions (2016)* Applicable Military Skills/Traits
Medical Technologist $50,401 (medical and clinical laboratory technologists) 2,310 (medical and clinical laboratory technologists) Critical thinking, deductive reasoning, detail oriented, analysis, problem solving
Nurse $119,799 981 Dependability, attention to detail, communication skills, active listening skills, problem solving, compassion, cooperation
Radiation Health Specialist N/A N/A Detail oriented, active listening skills, communication skills, analysis, leadership
Navy Hospital Corpsman $43,000 (2018)** N/A Dependability, integrity, cooperation, detail oriented
Dentist $105,314 751 Compassion, communication skills, integrity, detail oriented

Sources: *Department of Defense, **Glassdoor

Relevance to Military Background

Much like the medical field in general, medical careers in the Navy are very diverse. An individual's past education and qualifications determine to some extent which types of careers are available to them. Some individuals may receive their medical training outside of the Navy, while others may become trained in their job through Navy training. Regardless of which career path an individual chooses, however, everyone who joins the Navy will be required to complete basic or officer's training, in which they will develop skills like responsibility, teamwork, communication, and problem-solving, all of which can be applied to any medical career. Below we will look at five medical careers in the Navy in greater detail.

Medical Technologist

Navy medical technologists are responsible for performing a variety of different laboratory tests on other servicemen and women to make sure they are in good health and ready for service. They generally work on a medical team with other medical professionals like nurses and doctors, which requires them to communicate effectively. Much of this job involves running laboratory tests and then analyzing the results, which requires critical thinking ability, attention to detail, and the ability to stay organized as medical technologies also keep a record of tests they have run. In order to become a medical technologist in the Navy, you will need to have a bachelor's degree in medical technology as well as appropriate certifications and some work experience.


Nurses who work in the Navy perform many different essential duties in providing medical care and support for enlisted members. Much like in civilian life, there are a large number of options for nurses in terms of which area of medical care they are interested in working in. For example, some nurses work in critical care, while others work in emergency or trauma care. Navy nurses also work in many different environments, from traditional hospital settings to humanitarian relief situations in field settings. Students who know that they want to become nurses and join the Navy before they begin college are eligible for Navy-sponsored nursing scholarships. Otherwise, individuals must have a bachelor's degree in nursing to qualify for a Navy nursing position.

Radiation Health Specialist

Radiation health therapists are responsible for the coordination and planning of all radiation programs in the Navy. This includes overseeing the training and instruction of radiation technicians, working with physicians and other medical professionals in diagnosing and treating various illnesses that require radiation therapy, and making sure radiation programs are in compliance with the application regulations. To become a radiation health specialist in the Navy, you will typically need to complete the appropriate undergraduate degree and then attend Officer Development School after enlisting in the Navy.

Navy Hospital Corpsman

Navy hospital corpsmen play a very valuable role in the day-to-day operation of the Navy's medical facilities and are an essential part of providing treatment to enlisted members of the Navy. They generally work on teams with other medical professionals like dentists, physicians, and nurses and typically specialize in an area like surgery, preventative medicine, radiology, or search and rescue. Because it is an enlisted position, Navy hospital corpsmen do not have to obtain a bachelor's degree in order to pursue this career, as individuals can join the Navy after high school and receive training for this particular career through Navy-provided training.


As a Navy dentist, individuals will provide dental care to sailors, Marines, and their families, which may include filling cavities, providing preventative care through check-ups, and performing other dental treatments. In addition to being able to work in various medical facilities as Naval bases around the world, Navy dentists may also work in the field to provide dental care to individuals on humanitarian missions. To work as a dentist in the Navy, an individual must complete dental school before enlisting and be willing to serve for at least three years.

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