Individuals entering the Marine Corps have several service options. Each category offers its own advantages, challenges, and rewards. In some circumstances, a person must meet certain criteria before entering the Marine Corps.
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Most people in the Marine Corps join the Marines as “enlisted”. These individuals must have a high school degree or a GED prior to enlistment. Before participating in active duty, enlisted Marines must complete recruit training at either the San Diego or Parris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot.
Enlisted Marines must complete contracts of 3 to 6 years of active duty. During this time, they can select a Military Occupational Field that prepares them for a military job.
Military Occupational Specialties for enlisted Marines include:
- Imagery Analysis Specialist
- Geographic Intelligence Specialist
- Parachute Rigger
- Landing Support Specialist
These and other jobs allow enlisted Marines to explore their areas of interest so they can defend their country, complete humanitarian projects, and prepare for careers after leaving service.
Enlisted Marines may choose a path that helps them qualify as Marine Officers. Many enlisted Marines eventually become Warrant Officers.
Marine Officers have a higher rank than enlisted Marines. To become an officer, however, enlistees must have a bachelor’s degree, attend Officer Candidate School, and complete The Basic School at Quantico.
There are two types of Marine Officers: Commissioned and Warrant. Commissioned officer ranks begin at Second Lieutenant. The highest rank is General. Warrant officers usually work within specific fields. This segment mostly consists of former enlisted Marines who have gained expertise in specialized areas.
Marine Officers may lead various enlisted Marines working in Military Occupational Specialties. Some Military Occupational Specialties held by Marine Officers include
- Military Source Operations Officer
- Logistics Officer
- Space Operations Staff Officer
- Communications Officer
- Cyber Network Operations Engineer
Marine Officers serve leadership roles within the Marine Corps. Commissioned officers receive their commissions under authority of the President.
Enlisted Marines and Marine Officers can choose to join the Marine Corps as full-time members or reservists. Reservists get to live a civilian lifestyle throughout most of the year, but they must maintain a high level of physical fitness and participate in regular training.
Training occurs during one weekend a month. Marine Reservists also spend an additional two weeks a year in intensive training.
While those serving in the Marine Reserves enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle that allows them to pursue other careers, they must complete the same introductory training as active-duty Marines. This means enlisted Marines must complete recruit training even if they are reservists. Reservists enlisted as Marine Officers must complete Officer Candidate School and The Basic School.
Marine Reservists make an eight year commitment to the Marine Corps. They must be ready to supplement active-duty Marines in humanitarian and combat operations. Reservists are often called upon to assist the Marine Corps during national emergencies, including those caused by intense weather.
Many people enter the Marine Corps Reserves because they want to serve their country, earn extra money, or develop new skills without making a full commitment to a military lifestyle.