Exploring Careers in the Military: Opportunities in the Marine Corps
The U.S. Marine Corps was created on November 10, 1775, by a resolution of the Continental Congress. Since then, the Marine Corps has grown to be one of the most elite fighting forces in the world. To perform the many duties of the Marine Corps, approximately 174,000 officers and enlisted Marines fly planes and helicopters; operate radar equipment; drive armored vehicles; gather intelligence; survey and map territory; maintain and repair radios, computers, jeeps, trucks, tanks, and aircraft; and perform hundreds of other challenging jobs. Each year, the Marine Corps recruits over 41,000 men and women to fill openings in its numerous career fields. The Marine Corps training programs offer practical, challenging, and progressive skill development. The Marine Corps stresses professional education for all ranks and emphasizes the development of mental strength as well as traditional physical prowess. In this way, the Marine Corps provides the nation with a modern, well-armed force that is both tough and smart.
Marine Corps enlistment terms are for three, four, or five years, depending on the type of enlistment program. Young men and women enlisting in the Marine Corps must meet exacting physical, mental, and moral standards. Applicants must be between the ages of 17 and 28. American citizens or registered aliens, and in good health to ensure that they can meet the rigorous physical training demands. The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), described in this guide, is used by the Marine Corps to assess each person’s vocational aptitudes and academic abilities. Some applicants for enlistment may have taken the ASVAB while still in high school. For those applicants who have not previously taken the ASVAB, a Marine recruiter can arrange for them to do so.
Applicants for enlistment can be guaranteed training and duty assignment with a wide variety of options, depending upon their level of education and the qualifications they possess. Women are eligible to enlist in all occupational fields, with the exception of combat arms (infantry), artillery, and tank and amphibian tractor crew members.
Delayed Entry Program Students who wish to complete the Marine Corps enlistment process before graduating from high school or a community college may enlist in the Marine Corps Delayed Entry Program (DEP). Enlistment in the DEP allows applicants to postpone their initial active-duty training for up to a full year. Enlisting in the DEP has two principal benefits: the student can finish high school or community college, and the highly desirable enlistment programs that are available in limited numbers, such as all computer specialties and many aviation specialties, can be reserved early.
Musician Enlistment Option Program The Musician Enlistment Option Program gives graduates with musical talent an opportunity to serve in Marine Corps bands or the Marine Corps Drum and Bugle Corps. The program’s incentives include formal school training, accelerated promotions, and duty station choices.
Enlistment Options Program The Enlistment Options Program guarantees well-qualified applicants, before they enlist, assignment to one of over 30 occupational fields. The occupational fields contain every job available in the Marine Corps, ranging from combat arms to motor transport to high-technology avionics, electronics, and computer science. Some enlistment options feature cash bonuses as well as formal training programs.
Quality Enlistment Program The Quality Enlistment Program is for highly qualified young men and women for enlistment and assignment primarily to technical occupational fields. The program provides incentives, including choice of geographic assignment, to qualified high school graduates or seniors who enlist.
Recruit Training Upon completing the enlistment process, all applicants enter Marine Corps recruit training. Young men undergo recruit training either at Parris Island, South Carolina, or in San Diego, California. All young women attend recruit training at Parris Island. Recruit training is rigorous, demanding, and challenging. The overall goal of recruit training is to instill in the recruits the military skills, knowledge, discipline, pride, and self-confidence necessary to perform as United States Marines.
In the first several days at the recruit depot, a recruit is assigned to a platoon, receives a basic issue of uniforms and equipment, is given an additional physical, and takes further assignment classification tests. Each platoon is led by a team of three Marine drill instructors. A typical training day for recruits begins with reveille at 0500 (5:00 a.m.); continues with drill, physical training, and several classes in weapons and conduct, and ends with taps at 2100 (9:00 p.m.).
Job Training Upon graduation from recruit training, each Marine takes a short vacation, then reports to the School of Infantry for combat skills training. Upon graduation from the School of Infantry, Marines then report either to a new command for formal school training or to the on-the-job training to which they have been assigned. The Marine Corps sends students to over 200 basic formal schools and to over 300 advanced formal schools. The length of formal school varies from four weeks to over a year, depending on the level of technical expertise and knowledge required to become proficient in particular job skills. For example, different military occupational specialties (MOSs) within the electrical and electronic repair occupational field require from 10 to 50 weeks to complete; different MOSs in the vehicle and machinery mechanic occupational field require from 6 to 18 weeks to complete.
Marines assigned to an MOS within the combat specialty occupational field receive most of their training outdoors. Marines assigned to highly technical MOSs receive most of their training in a classroom. The main thrust of Marine Corps training is toward hands-on training and practical application of newly acquired skills. As soon as possible after classroom instruction is completed, students are placed in an actual work environment to obtain practical experience and to develop confidence. After completing entry-level MOS training, most Marines are assigned to operational units of the Fleet Marine Forces to apply their skills. Marines assigned to the more technical MOSs may require more advanced training prior to their first operational duty assignment. Job performance requirements in a number of MOSs are comparable to requirements needed for journeyman certification in civilian occupations. A Marine assigned to these MOSs may apply for status as a registered apprentice.
Advancement is directly linked to an individual’s performance in an MOS and development as a Marine. Each Marine is evaluated based on job performance, experience, and ability to apply newly learned skills. While promotion criteria rely heavily on individual job performance, Marines are also in competition with others of the same rank in the same MOS. Promotion becomes increasingly competitive as Marines advance in rank. The normal time-in-grade requirements for promotion are as follows: Private to Private First Class, six months; Private First Class to Lance Corporal, eight months; Lance Corporal to Corporal, eight months; and Corporal to Sergeant, twenty-four months. Promotions above Sergeant to the Staff Noncommissioned Officer (SNCO) ranks are determined by promotion boards.
The Meritorious Promotion System is used to recognize Marines who demonstrate outstanding job performance and professional competence. Marines recommended for meritorious promotion are carefully screened for accelerated advancement. Qualified enlisted Marines can compete for and be accepted into the officer corps through several different programs. Competition is keen, and only the best-qualified Marines are accepted.
Enlisted Commissioning Program This program provides the opportunity for enlisted Marines with two years of college to apply for assignment to the Officer Candidates School and subsequent appointment as unrestricted commissioned officers.
Enlisted Commissioning Education Program The Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program provides selected enlisted Marines (who have had no college experience) the opportunity to earn baccalaureate degrees by attending a college or university as full-time students. Marines in this program who obtain their baccalaureate degrees and subsequently complete officer candidate training are commissioned as second lieutenants.
The Warrant Officer Program Warrant officers are technical specialists who are assigned to duties only in their area of expertise. All other officers are said to be unrestricted and are assigned to a wide variety of assignments during their career. The Warrant Officer Program provides for the selection and appointment to permanent warrant officer those qualified applicants who are in the grade of sergeant or above at the time of application.
All Marines on active duty are encouraged to continue their education by taking advantage of service schools and Marine Corps–funded off-duty courses at local civilian colleges. Three educational assistance programs are available to enlisted Marines.
The Marine Corps has developed an extensive professional military education program to provide Marine leaders with the skill, knowledge, understanding, and confidence that will better enable Marines to make sound military decisions.
Tuition Assistance Program The Marine Corps Tuition Assistance Program provides Marines with financial assistance to pursue educational programs at civilian secondary and postsecondary institutions during their off-duty time. Tuition assistance may be used only to fund courses at a higher academic level than the degree or diploma currently held by the Marine.
Servicemembers’ Opportunity Colleges The Servicemembers’ Opportunity Colleges (SOC) is a consortium of colleges and universities that have agreed to help military personnel gain access to higher education by minimizing residency requirements, recognizing nontraditional education attainment, such as the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests, easing the transfer of college credit from similarly accredited institutions, and granting credit for formal military training.
College after the Corps Marines are also eligible to participate in educational assistance programs with the government, such as the Montgomery G.I. Bill, which can provide for future educational needs. The Marine Corps College Fund may add monetary incentives to qualified Marines’ accounts to total no more than $50,000 for education.
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