You've probably heard of the Army's Miltary Information Support Operations (MISO), more commonly known as PSYOPs. This team uses military intelligence to influence adversarial foreign governments or other groups that may conflict with the United States and its objectives.
A Psychological Operations Specialist, which is military occupational specialty (MOS) 37F, analyzes and develops the information used to create a psychological effect on a particular population.
Duties of MOS 37F
These specialists collect and report on psychological information, frequently while in the field. They gather intelligence and conduct studies to determine psyops targets. And they prepare and retrieve information on psyops-related intelligence, products, and campaigns.
Based on the information collected, these soldiers can determine the psychological vulnerabilities of potential psyops targets. They learn what kinds of intelligence will be effective in persuading or influencing either an enemy (such as a warlord or dictator) or a population that may be affected by that enemy (such as the residents the warlord or dictator leads).
These soldiers are trained to determine how to conduct a psyop campaign, and what mix of media to use. That determination is often made based on the available assets and the location of the operation. It wouldn't do much good, for instance, to suggest a psyop campaign using television ads in English in an area without regular access to electricity where the population speaks another language.
Training to be a PSYOP Specialist
A psychological operations specialist takes 10 weeks of Basic Combat Training and 14 weeks of Advanced Individual Training. Active-duty soldiers follow this training with three weeks of Airborne training and between four and six months of language training. For soldiers in the Army Reserves, the additional language and airborne training are not required.
How to Be Eligible for MOS 37F
It is a difficult job to qualify for, requiring a 101 on the skilled technical (ST) area of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test. You'll also need to qualify for a secret security clearance from the Department of Defense since you'll be handling highly sensitive information. It will entail a background, and criminal records check, and some past drug offenses may disqualify you from eligibility.
If you've ever served in the Peace Corps, you are not eligible for this job. The U.S. government wants to maintain a clear distinction between military and spy operations and the humanitarian work the Peace Corps does. If foreign countries suspected that Peace Corps personnel could one day serve in military intelligence, that could endanger the personnel and hamper their operations.
Other disqualifying factors include any record of conviction by court-martial and any record of conviction by civil court for anything other than minor traffic violations.
Soldiers in MOS 37F should be able to speak English with little trace of an accent.
In addition to the above, the physical conditioning requirements for this MOS are quite stringent. The average PT goal for a class is 270 with a score of 70 in each event in the 18- to 21-year-old category.
Similar Civilian Occupations to MOS 37F
There is no civilian occupation that is directly equivalent to MOS 37F. But the training and experience may prepare you for post-military careers in market research, marketing, promotions, and public relations.