Enlisted Classifications Specialties:Navy Hospital Corpsman

Illustrated infographic showing the duties of a Navy Hospital Corpsman.
Image by John Abcede. © The Balance 2019

The Navy has a long history of exceptional Hospital Corpsman since its beginnings in the late 1800s. Navy Corpsmen do not just work in Naval Hospitals or onboard ships, they are also part of ground fighting units within the Marine Corps and the Navy and Marine Corps Special Operations and Special Warfare Communities. They take their skills to combat zones and work side by side with their Navy and Marine Corps fighters. To date, twenty-three Navy Corpsman have earned the distinguished Medal of Honor for their bravery above and beyond the call of duty. The Corpsman's devotion to their fellow Sailors and Marines is second to none, often risking their own lives to save another fellow military member or civilian.

Hospital Corpsman Duties

Hospital Corpsmen (HM) perform duties as assistants in the prevention and treatment of disease and injury and assist health care professionals in providing medical care to Navy personnel and their families.

A hospital corpsman may function as a clinical or specialty technician, or in a medical administrative or health care provider role at a medical treatment facility. They also serve as battlefield corpsmen with the Marine Corps, providing emergency medical treatment in a combat environment.

Hospital corpsmen may be assigned independent duty aboard ships and submarines, Fleet Marine Force, Special Forces and Seabee units, and at isolated duty stations where no other medical officer is available.

Navy Rating Structure

The Navy Enlisted Classification (NEC) system supplements the enlisted rating structure in identifying personnel on active or inactive duty and billets in manpower authorizations. NEC codes identify a non-rating wide skill, knowledge, aptitude, or qualification that must be documented to identify both people and billets for management purposes.

For example, if a Navy Corpsman spends much of their time with the Marines within the Force Reconnaissance Community they will receive specialized training through the Special Operations Combat Medic (SOCM) course. They will be awarded SARC title. As they advance, they could also advance their training and become a RECON Independent Duty Corpsman and add a new NEC 8403 to their list of credentials. From that point on, the sailor could be assigned in a leadership position within the RECON Fleet Marine Force medical staff.


Below are the Navy Enlisted Classification codes for the Hospital Corpsman community area:

HM-8401 Search and Rescue Medical Technician (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM-8402 Submarine Force Independent Duty Corpsman (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM-8403 Fleet Marine Force Reconnaissance Independent Duty Corpsman (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM-8404 Field Medical Service Technician (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM-8406 Aerospace Medical Technician (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM-8407 Radiation Health Technician (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM-8408 Cardiovascular Technician (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM-8409 Aerospace Physiology Technician (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM 8410 Bio-Medical Equipment Technician (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM-8416 Nuclear Medicine Technologist (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM-8425 Surface Force Independent Duty Corpsman (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM-8427 Fleet Marine Force Reconnaissance Corpsman (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM-8432 Preventive Medicine Technician (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM-8434 Hemodialysis/Apheresis Technician (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM-8451 Basic X Ray Technician (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM-8452 Advanced X-Ray Technician (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM-8454 Electroneurodiagnostic Technologist (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM-8463 Optician (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM-8466 Physical Therapy Technician (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM-8467 Occupational Therapy Assistant (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM-8472 Biomedical Photography Technician (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM-8482 Pharmacy Technician (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM-8483 Surgical Technologist (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM-8485 Psychiatry Technician (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM-8486 Urology Technician (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM-8489 Orthopedic Cast Room Technician (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM-8493 Medical Deep Sea Diving Technician (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM-8494 Deep Sea Diving Independent Duty Corpsman (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM-8496 Mortician (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM-8503 Histopathology Technician (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM-8505 Cytotechnologist (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM-8506 Medical Laboratory Technician, Advanced (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM-8541 Respiratory Therapy Technician (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM-8701 Dental Assistant (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM 8707 Field Service Dental Technician (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM-8708 Dental Hygienist (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM 8752 Dental Laboratory Technician, Basic (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM 8753 Dental Laboratory Technician, Advanced (APPLIES TO: HM)

HM 8765 Dental Laboratory Technician, Maxillofacial (APPLIES TO: HM)

The advancement opportunities in the Navy medical field is only limited to the enlisted corpsman's motivation and desire to learn new skills. Many of the above NEC are highly competitive and only a few each year may achieve them - depends on the needs of the Navy and Marine Corps.