Naval Aerospace Experimental Psychology

Hi, welcome to the Navy AEP website. I am looking for motivated professionals who are interested in a challenge and want to apply their skills while serving their country. If you are interested in learning more about becoming an AEP, I encourage you to read through this website, as it will answer most of the questions you may have. Please feel free to contact us by using the link on the left, or at the bottom of the page. Thanks, and have a fine Navy day!
Commander James Patrey, PhD, AEP Specialty Leader, Naval Air Systems Command

What is an AEP?

Aerospace Experimental Psychologists are active duty Naval Officers who serve as professional researchers and scientists. We are involved in all phases of systems development and acquisition, including bench-level research, development, test and evaluation, and a wide range of technology application areas including human engineering of platforms, aviation selection, and simulation and training.

The role of Aerospace Experimental Psychology in the acquisition process and related supporting technologies is to develop, refine, and apply technology that emerges from four main areas of emphasis: human performance, human engineering, aviation selection, and training and simulation.

Check out this short video to learn more!

What we do


Candidates seeking a position in this community must have completed a Ph.D. in Psychology, with primary emphasis in Industrial, Experimental, Cognitive, Organizational, and/or Human Factors or a Ph.D. in Neuroscience, Industrial Engineering, or an inter-disciplinary program emphasizing human factors or behavioral science. Applicants who have completed a Master’s Degree in one of the above areas and have four years of commissioned service will be considered.
Applicants must meet aviation physical standards and be willing to learn to fly. Swimming ability should exceed basic staying afloat skills. For those individuals whose swimming skills are weak, additional training should be considered. Waivers for lack of water survival skills are not approved. The applicant must be in good health with a benign medical history. Eyesight must correctable to 20/20 in both eyes. Color vision/depth perception should be normal. All other systems must be normal and not compromised by the flight environment.
All candidates must be U.S. citizens, willing to serve worldwide, eligible for a Secret security clearance, must be commissioned before their 42nd birthday, and qualified for flight duty.


Training to become a Navy AEP takes dedication and commitment, but is likely to be one of the most exciting and memorable experiences of your life! Read below on the basic steps involved in earning your wings of gold.
Length: 5 weeks

Location: Newport, Rhode Island

Description: Officer Development School (ODS) is the foundation for your success as a Naval Officer. This course provides Staff Corps Officers and several Restricted Line designators with a basic introduction into the fundamental aspects of leadership while providing a working knowledge of available references. You will receive instruction in Naval Leadership, administration, organization, sea power, military law, military indoctrination, Naval warfare and damage control. ODS is physically and mentally demanding. You will have 2-3 days a week of strength and conditioning exercises, including pushups, sit-ups, and various other exercises, and you will run 2-3 times per week, which will consist of cone drills, sprints, and sustained runs. You will be required to complete 2 Navy Physical Readiness Tests (PRTs) before you can successfully graduate ODS.

Length: 6 weeks

Location: Pensacola, FL

Description: Upon successful completion of initial military training, Aviation candidates and Officers with Aeromedical designators will report to Aviation Pre-Flight Indoctrination where they are challenged both academically and physically. Classes include: engineering, aerodynamics, air navigation, aviation physiology, land and water survival.

Length: approx. 10 weeks

Location: TRAWING 6, Sherman Field, Pensacola, FL

Description: Upon successful completion of API, Aeromedical Officers proceed through an abbreviated flight syllabus consisting of six stages: familiarization, basic instruments, precision aerobatics, formation, night familiarization, and radio instruments. Students will attend portions of didactic training in ground school, and will receive training in static and full-motion simulators, as well as live flights in a T-6 Texan II training aircraft.

Length: approx. 10 weeks

Location: TRAWING 5, Whiting Field, Milton, FL

Description: Aeromedical Officers will attend the advanced rotary wing training at Whiting Field. Here, students learn the unique characteristics and tactics of rotary-wing aviation, and undergo an abbreviated flight syllabus consisting of ground school, static and full-motion simulators, and several flights in the TH-57.

Length: 6 weeks

Location: Naval Aerospace Medical Institute, Pensacola, FL

Description: Here students will develop skills in aerospace psychology, with particular emphasis on those areas which are especially pertinent to the aviation environment: vision, human performance, human factors engineering, research and development, test and evaluation techniques, training systems, systems acquisition, and human research regulations. Occupational and environmental medicine, safety, aircraft accident investigation, and crash survivability assessment are also instructional objectives.


AEPs serve in a variety of jobs all over the country in such exciting locations as San Diego, California; Orlando, Florida; and Washington, D.C. Check out a summary list of where we serve by clicking the locations on the right.


We know you probably have more, but here are a few answers to the most frequently asked questions.
As healthcare scientists, AEPs are rarely called upon to deploy, though it has occurred. Taking the oath of office is a solemn decision, one that could mean going into harm’s way at some point to support and defend our country’s freedom. In the rare occurrences when AEPs are called upon to deploy, they typically serve as advisors and scientists, and are not trained as combatants.
AEPs receive an abbreviated flight syllabus as part of their aeromedical training in order to familiarize them with the rigors and challenges inherent in flight and flight training. Once winged, we are designated as crew, receive aviation conditional incentive pay (flight pay), and are required to fly a minimum of 4 hours per month in order to maintain currency. While there are opportunities to obtain further flight experience, AEPs are not designated as Naval Aviators, and do not receive certification to fly as an aircraft commander or co-pilot.
In addition to base pay, Naval Officers receive allowances for food and housing, as well as full healthcare coverage for themselves and their families, commissary privileges, and tax-free shopping at the Naval Exchange. There are a multitude of other privileges and other benefits afforded to being an active duty servicemember, including access to USO lounges at airports, military discounts at some retailers, and special home loans.

Once an AEP is winged, they will receive Aviation Conditional Incentive Pay (flight pay), which is between $125 and $850 a month, determined by years of aviation service as an officer.

In order to encourage professional growth and maintain a vibrant and diverse Navy, servicemembers are required to rotate duty stations approximately every three years. For those who are interested in exploring new areas and meeting new people, this is an excellent opportunity! Each permenant change of station (PCS) move is funded at the government’s expense, and there are numerous programs in place to help ease the transition from one place to another. Military communities such as the AEPs thrive on strong bonds of friendship and commeraderie, and there are many opportunities to become involved in communities through outreach programs offered by military installations.
Newly selected AEPs are commissioned as Navy Lieutenants (O-3), and receive annual and built-in incremental raises. You can view a military base pay chart here. Additionally, there is excellent opportunity for promotion for dedicated and hard working individuals. In additional to regular base pay, Naval officers receive housing allowances based on their duty station. Once winged, AEPs also receive monthly aviation conditional incentive pay (flight pay), which increases over time from an initial $125 to $850 a month. When combined with the health care benefits (Tricare PRIME), and various other allowances, salaries are very competitive with civilian equivalent education and experience levels.
Have more questions?