How to Become a Marine

The Marine Corps is a way of life that requires great physical and mental strength. You will need to consider what career specialty you’d like even as you continue to hone your body. Meet with a recruiter to enlist. After passing some preliminary tests, you’ll be shipped off to boot camp for basic training. With determination, perseverance, and a little research, you too can become one of the Few and the Proud.

EditSteps

EditGetting Ready to Enlist

  1. Decide if the Marines are right for you. Before committing to becoming a Marine, figure out how being in the Marines will improve your life. This commitment requires a significant amount of time and effort. You may also see combat. Being in the Marines should set you up on a career path you can pursue when your contract is up.[1]
    Become a Marine Step 1 Version 2.jpg
    • Marines are a proud group of people and this branch of service is said by many to be the most intensive. Make sure this is a better fit for you than other branches of the military.
    • The Marines offer health care, financial, and educational benefits. However, you should join for the challenge rather than for benefits.
  2. Wait until you’re old enough to enlist. In the US, you cannot enlist in the Marines until you are 17 years old. As soon as you become of age and finish high school, speak to a recruiter. Anyone up to age 28 is eligible to enlist with the Marines. After age 28, you’ll need to speak to a recruiter to get a waiver.[2]
    Become a Marine Step 2 Version 2.jpg
    • Residents of other countries should consult their government for specific requirements for their Marine programs.
  3. Complete the education requirements. The minimum for enlistment is being a legal resident of the US and having a high school diploma. To be an officer in the Marines, you need a bachelor’s degree from a four-year university program. The Marine Corps offers officer training for students who are in the process of earning their four-year degree.[3]
    Become a Marine Step 3 Version 2.jpg
    • You may be able to get into the Marines with a GED, but it is difficult. Recruitment can be very competitive.
  4. Become an Enlisted Marine after high school. The proper time for joining the Marines depends on your circumstances and what rank you want to achieve. Once you have a high school diploma, you can become an Enlisted Marine. When you do this right after high school, you may not have the same college experience your friends are having. However, the Marines can pay for your education.
    Become a Marine Step 4 Version 2.jpg
    • Even if you go to college first, you can enlist. Make sure you aren’t interested in becoming an officer before you choose this route.
  5. Become an officer with a four-year college degree. Many officer candidates choose to do their training in the summers between school terms. You can also apply for the training after earning your degree. Officer candidates are leaders in the Marines, so the program is a little more competitive than basic enlistment.[4]
    Become a Marine Step 5 Version 2.jpg
    • It is possible for an Enlisted Marine to become an officer, but oftentimes it’s difficult to make the switch.
    • Enlisted Marines and officers work together but are trained differently.
  6. Pass the initial fitness test. Military training is tough. Before you ever apply, begin running and training. Eat foods low in fat and high in protein, such as fish and chicken. You don’t need to be perfect to enlist. Make sure you can pass the initial strength test (IST) by doing two pull-ups, 35 crunches in two minutes, and a 1.5 mile (2.4 km) run in 13 ½ minutes. Doing even better than that prepares you for the scored fitness tests in boot camp.[5]
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EditContacting a Recruiter

  1. Find a recruiter in your area. Go online to the Marine Corps’s official website. At the top of the page, you’ll see the words “Contact a Marine.” Click this and fill out your information to get in touch with a local recruiter. You may also look for recruiting offices in your area. Search online or in a phone book for contact information.[6]
    Become a Marine Step 7 Version 2.jpg
  2. Write down questions you want answered. Your recruiter is there to help you become a successful Marine. They’ll interview you, but you should use the opportunity to clear up any uncertainties. Some questions you can ask them include: Which service option is best for me? What job training am I qualified for? How can you help me get a college education?
    Become a Marine Step 8.jpg
    • Service shouldn’t be taken lightly. Make sure you fully understand all your options before enlisting and picking a career path.
  3. Pick a job specialty to pursue. While “every Marine is a rifleman” is true, the Marines also offers career options from pilots to photographers. Search for the military occupational specialties (MOS) online before you arrive. Recruiters can help guide you to one that’s right for you. You’ll have to choose your specialty when you enlist.[7]
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    • The best MOS is one that you’ll enjoy and will also help you make a living in the civilian world.
  4. Ask about guaranteed specialty training. Recruiters may be able to guarantee you a spot in a training school or duty station. When discussing your MOS, make sure to bring this up. Ask the recruiter how they can guarantee you’ll get the career path you pick. Specialties are competitive with limited space available for candidates, so this can prevent difficulties down the road.
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EditCompleting Enlistment Testing and Training

  1. Visit a processing station for the aptitude test. Wear comfortable clothing and get a good night’s rest. The ASVAB measures your verbal, math, and academic abilities. It consists of ten sections ranging from word knowledge to mechanical knowledge and coding speed. This test determines your qualifications.[8]
    Become a Marine Step 11.jpg
    • A counselor will use these scores to inform you of MOS opportunities. You should research these in advance.
  2. Get a physical exam. The physical is held after completing the ASVAB. Bring personal identification, including a birth certificate, Social Security card, and any documentation of medical problems throughout your life. You should also get a list from your recruiter of personal items to bring. The Marines will test your health to make sure you are fit to enlist.[9]
    Become a Marine Step 12.jpg
    • Upon passing the test, selecting your job specialty, and swearing in, you may be asked to leave immediately for boot camp.
  3. Ship off to boot camp. You will be sent to boot camp immediately or within a few months of taking the Marine oath. If you live east of the Mississippi River, you’ll head to the Parris Island Recruit Depot in South Carolina. If you live to the west, you’ll head to the San Diego Recruit Depot in California. For thirteen weeks, you’ll get up at 5:00 AM, train, and go to sleep at 9:00 PM.[10]
    Become a Marine Step 13.jpg
  4. Complete combat and field training. The first week of boot camp is processing and academic work. The second week is about discipline. After that, your body will be tested. You’ll start out learning how to fight and move on to water survival and weapons training. Near the end, you’ll learn field skills like setting up a tent. After a grueling final test that covers all that you’ll learn, you’ll spend the last week graduating.[11]
    Become a Marine Step 14.jpg

EditContinuing Training as a Marine

  1. Stay in shape to pass physical fitness tests. Every six months, you will have to pass a physical fitness test. These are similar to the initial fitness test you took when enlisting. A perfect score on their fitness test is achieved by doing 20 dead-hang pull-ups, 100 crunches, and completing a three-mile (4.8 km) run in 18 minutes. You’ll need to continue to care for your health so you can continue to be a Marine.
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    • For women, the perfect score means a flexed-arm hang for 70 seconds, 100 crunches, and completing a three-mile run in 21 minutes.
  2. Begin your specialty training. After you finish boot camp, you get to move on to the career specialty you settled on during enlistment. The Marine Corps will direct you to schools at military installations around the country. You will need to wait until the school has an opening before you begin.[12]
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  3. Begin officer training school. During or after your collegiate experience, you can begin officer training. Officer training happens in the summer at Quantico, Virginia. Most undergraduates will take the Platoon Leaders Course (PLC), which is either ten full weeks or two six-week sessions. Seniors and graduated Marines will take the Officer Candidates Class (OCC), which lasts for ten weeks.[13]
    Become a Marine Step 17.jpg
    • Contact an Officer Selection Officer about these courses. They can found by searching online or by speaking with someone from the Marine Corps.
    • These courses are designed to assess your potential as a leader.
  4. Ask about the Enlisted Commissioning Education Program. Marines accepted into this program are permitted to go to college and get a degree from a four-year program. You will also undergo officer candidate training to become a second lieutenant. This program is for active Marines who want to go to a four-year college. Speak to your officers to apply.[14]
    Become a Marine Step 18.jpg

EditTips

  • Teamwork and discipline is important in a platoon. Make friends with your fellow Marines.
  • Boot camp is tough. It takes a great physical toll. You will get dirty and need to yell while speaking.
  • Don’t enlist “open contract.” Make sure you know exactly what your job will be before you sign up. It’s four years of life, so make them as enjoyable and productive as possible.
  • Keep your family and significant other, if you have one, informed about your choices. Remember that your service affects them too.

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EditSources and Citations

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