Non-Physician Careers in the Military

Military medicine offers unparalleled opportunities across various healthcare vocations, including specialty medicine, dentistry, nursing, mental health, allied health professions, administration, research and numerous technical fields.

For those interested in a non-physician military healthcare career, the relevant disciplines are organized into the five distinct corps:

Dental Corps

A Military dentist and their assistant examining a patient's teeth

Military dentists take care of the dental needs of active-duty service members. Some serve in a foreign country and support the Armed Forces as part of peacekeeping or combat missions, while others are stationed stateside to support service members deployed to military bases.

The Dental Corps encompasses many specialties, including oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontistry, prosthodontistry, oral pathology and both general and comprehensive dentistry.

See the Dental Corps mission in the Army, Navy and Air Force.

Specialty Spotlight: General Dentistry

In this specialty, you‘ll start building your practice as you treat service members for their general oral health, as well as diseases or injuries of the teeth, jaw and mouth. This specialty requires a doctor of dental surgery or doctor of medicine in dentistry from an ADA-accredited college or university.

Medical Service Corps

An Air Force pharmacist takes inventory of drugs

As one of the most diverse corps available in the Military today, the Medical Service Corps provides medical administrative, scientific and provider specialties, from direct patient care to management of the Military Health Service System.

There are 23 distinct specialities within the Medical Services Corps, such as behavioral and laboratory sciences, health services, optometry, pharmacy, podiatry and preventive medicine. These specialties are spread across four skill identifiers: administrative health services, medical allied sciences, preventative medicine sciences and clinical health sciences.

See the Army, Navy and Air Force Medical Services Corps mission.

Specialty Spotlight: Pharmacy

Medical Service Corps pharmacists serve in a variety of capacities and are involved in a wide range of clinical pharmacy practice responsibilities, such as drug-monitoring and patient-education services. Assignments can be located in a variety of settings stateside or overseas, including community hospitals, troop medical clinics or a field environment.

Medical Specialist Corps

An Army optometrist conducting an eye test on another service member

Specialists serve as the cornerstone of medical and performance readiness. These service members make up a diverse corps that is critical to ensuring a fit and ready force. As such, their responsibilities include health promotion, treatment and rehabilitation, injury mitigation and control and education.

In the U.S. Navy, these specialties fall under the Medical Service Corps, while in the Air Force, they fall under Biomedical Sciences Corps. Specialties include physical therapy, occupational therapy, clinical dietician and physician assistant, among others.

Learn more about Army, Navy and Air Force specialists.

Specialty Spotlight: Physician Assistant

Physician assistants are responsible for diagnostic and therapeutic services for service members and their families. In addition, they perform comprehensive exams, prescribe medication and therapies, counsel patients and evaluate various diagnostic findings. Eligibility requirements include certification by the National Commission for Certified Physician Assistants and the completion of an accredited physician assistant program. Physicians assistants may be eligible for secret security clearance.

Nurse Corps

Navy nurses perform CPR on a simulated patient

Outside of physicians, one of the most coveted healthcare careers is nursing. In the Military, the Nurse Corps represents more than 29,645 service members and each is dedicated to providing high-tech, quality healthcare for military personnel, their families and military retirees all over the world.

They support humanitarian missions and respond to natural disasters, often through experiences that are unmatched as a civilian nurse. Specialties represented in the Nurse Corps include critical care, mental health, perioperative, emergency trauma and gynecology/obstetrics.

See the Army, Navy Air Force Nurse Corps mission.

Specialty Spotlight: Critical Care

As a critical care nurse, you’ll provide unmatched nursing care to service members and their families. As a nurse in the Military, you will be responsible for potentially lifesaving medical services, procedures and consultations. Current eligibility requirements for the Nurse Corps include a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) (the Army Reserve accepts associate degrees in nursing), that you are currently licensed and practicing in the U.S. (new graduates must obtain a license within one year of beginning Active Duty service) and are in good standing as a student or graduate with a Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)-accredited U.S. education program granting a Bachelor of Science degree.

Veterinary Corps*

A US Air Force service member performs a routine check up on a pet cat

Active Duty and Reserve veterinarians protect and improve the health of Department of Defense and military branch service animals while enhancing force readiness. Their responsibilities include the prevention of contagious and zoonotic diseases among military working dogs, providing routine care for military service animals, treating family pets and supporting Human Animal Bond Programs at military hospitals.

Within the Veterinary Corps are several specialties, such as preventive medicine and laboratory animal medicine, veterinary pathology, veterinary comparative medicine and veterinary clinical medicine.

*Available in the U.S. Army only.

Specialty Spotlight: Veterinary Clinical Medicine

As a Veterinary clinical medicine officer, you will provide medical and surgical care for both government-owned animals and service member's pets. You will make clinical observations and diagnoses and consult on animal healthcare.