How To Become A Marine

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When we see marines depicted in television and movies, they are usually portrayed as heroes fighting a very important conflict. Even though they are sometimes shown as overly aggressive, they are patriotic, disciplined, and incredibly skilled. The same goes for the marines in the real world (not the overly aggressive part). We rely on marines as part of our national defense and security. Their combat abilities protect us from anyone who might want to do us harm, and we owe a debt of gratitude to these fine men and women.

If you have considered becoming a marine, this article will cover their training, salary, and the necessary traits to become one. So let’s begin!

What Exactly do Marines Do?

The United States Marine Corps falls under the direct command of the President of the United States (or Commander in Chief). When there is a domestic or international conflict, they are usually the first boots on the ground and the first that engage with the enemy. They are stationed worldwide, mainly at embassies or areas with growing conflict. 

When commanded to fight an enemy, their general orders are to engage and then secure the area so that allies can safely arrive. Once the area is secured, they are free to move on to the next objective. 

On the other hand, the marines are also asked to help with worldwide humanitarian missions. For example, they have been known to help with charity organizations like Toys for Tots during the holidays.

There are also special duties that come with being a marine. These positions are for those marines that have a particular set of skills and knowledge and have proven to be capable of handling more responsibilities:

Drill Instructor: Perhaps the most important duty of all, Drill Instructors are responsible for preparing the next generation of marines and giving direction, guidance, and discipline to recruits. 

Recruiter: They are responsible for carrying out the screening and selection of new Marine recruits. Their position is also very important because they must always ensure a high standard when choosing new trainees. 

Embassy Guard: The marines are also the only military group trusted to safeguard US Embassies and Consulates around the world. 

Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC): These are the marines that are usually on the frontlines. They are known for providing fire support, intelligence, and even canine backup to allies.

Where Do They Work?

The numerous places where a marine can work or be deployed are legion, and the environment where you are placed will depend on your level of training. 

For instance, you might be sent to select bases either in the United States or overseas. Some of the top duty stations around the world are Camp Pendelton in California, Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar, Marine Corps Detachment Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Marine Corps Base Hawaii. 

Eventually, you might be sent to combat zones such as Afghanistan or Iraq, where you will be told to provide support and security to other military groups. You could also be deployed to naval vessels such as amphibious assault ships or aircraft carriers. There you will be tasked with assisting with naval operations. 

On the other end of the spectrum, your superiors might see leadership qualities in you that would be needed to motivate younger people. You might then be assigned to one of the Marine Corps Recruit Depots either at Parris Island or San Diego, where you will mentor and train recruits. Other marines might be sent to different military schools all around the US to receive more specialized education and training. 

Other specific duties performed by marines (otherwise known as Military Occupational Specialties) include:

  • Handling and processing sensitive and/or classified information 
  • Assisting in a ground force assault to locate, combat and repel fire from an enemy
  • Operating and performing maintenance on communication networks and systems
  • Repairing engineering equipment using metalworking and welding
  • Translating information into other languages during certain operations

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Is it the Right Job for You?

Being both mentally and physically fit will be of the utmost importance when becoming a marine. You will participate in combat missions that could be extremely dangerous, and you will need to spend long periods away from your family. If you are assigned to areas like training centers or military schools, you may not be deployed to combat areas, but there is no guarantee.

Another trait you should possess (or at least want to acquire) is unique to the marines, and that is mental toughness. This is the ability to make split-second decisions and stay calm under pressure or in very stressful situations. It also requires discipline and focus, two other very important traits that you will learn as a marine. 

Those who desire to be marines should also have the ability to adapt to different environments and situations. Circumstances can change all the time during a combat mission, and you must be ready to roll with the punches no matter what occurs. Adaptability also pertains to traveling to different countries. You might be asked to go from the base in San Diego to the one in Okinawa, Japan. You should be comfortable with being exposed to a different culture.

Here are some other important traits you will need if you would like to become a marine:

Resilience: You will experience very challenging situations and possible setbacks, so the ability to stay focused in the face of many obstacles will be very beneficial to you

Leadership skills: Some marines with the right disposition will be asked to become the leader of an entire unit and will be responsible for the completion of certain duties and missions

Physical stamina: Being physically fit is one thing, but stamina will also be needed as a marine since you might have to spend long periods standing or crawling or in harsh environments like deserts or underwater

Ready to deploy at a moment’s notice: Whether it is early in the day or the middle of the night, you can receive orders at any time. Therefore, you should be ready to accept orders on short notice.

What Kind of Education Should I Get?

Do you want to know one of the best things about becoming a marine? The only education that you will need is a high school diploma.

That’s it. Nothing else is necessary.

This is perfect for those men and women who want to get started on their career immediately and don’t want to spend the time or money on pursuing a 2-4 year degree (although some marines do decide to pursue traditional education after they have graduated). 

There are some other requirements you will have to meet, however. To be recruited into the Marine Corps, you must be a United States citizen. You must also be between the age of 18 and 28 (or 17 with parental consent). It is better to have a high school diploma as only a small number of GED holders can join each year. 

Even then, you will also have to score well on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery Test (ASVAB). Those with a high school diploma only need to score 31 on the test, while those with a GED will need 50 or higher. 

To become an officer, eventually, you will need a bachelor’s degree.

Finally, you will need to be in good physical shape and of an appropriate weight when you attempt to join and, therefore, must pass the Military Entrance Processing Station medical exam. 

Basic Training

Once you have cleared all of these requirements, you can then be subjected to 13 weeks of basic training. It should be known that basic training in the marines is probably the most difficult out of all the different military branches. They are created specifically to break you down and then build you back up.  

About 15% of recruits drop out every year. However, the goal is not to break your spirit but to force you to rely on your fellow recruits for help. The true purpose of this harsh training is to teach you how to work as a team. 

According to, during your basic training, you will experience the following:

  • Food rationing and sleep deprivation
  • Rigorous day and nighttime marches
  • Combat resupply and casualty evacuation scenarios
  • Team-dependent negotiation of obstacles
  • Team field firing combat scenarios

At the end of your training, you will have to complete a test called The Crucible. This test lasts for 54 hours, and you will have to operate with little food and little sleep. Your officers will put you in situations of extreme stress, and you will have to constantly rely on your fellow recruits to help you finish this phase of training. 

Once you’ve conquered the Crucible, you will participate in The Eagle, Globe and Anchor Graduation Ceremony, where you will officially become a marine!

Schools, Location, and Tuition

Even though attending a military academy is not necessary to join the Marine Corps, many people decide to go to a school before starting basic training. They might also attend a college or university after they have become a marine in order to expand their field of knowledge. 

Below is a list of schools that you can attend either to prepare you for life in the Marine Corps or where you can learn new skills after you’ve already become one. This list is not exhaustive, so be sure to do your due diligence and perform your own research before choosing the right school for you.  

School Name / Location / Tuition


Marine Military Academy / Harlingen, TX / $37,750

Marine Academy of Science and Technology / Sandy Hook, NJ / No tuition

United States Military Academy / West Point, NY / No tuition

Marine Math and Science Academy / Chicago, IL / No tuition

Benedictine Military School / Savannah, GA / $21,900

Culver Military Academy / Culver, IN / $57,000

Senior Military Colleges

The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina / Charleston, SC / $12,570 in-state / $35,826 out-of-state

Virginia Military Institute / Lexington, VA / $19,670 in-state / $48,324 out-of-state

Graduate Schools

Marine Corps University / Quantico, VA / No tuition for active military

National Defense University / Washington, DC / No tuition for active military, $10,750 for civilians


  • General Military Instruction
  • Military Leadership
  • Individual Advanced Development
  • Boxing
  • Survival Swimming
  • Army Fitness Development
  • Advanced Mathematics
  • Statistics
  • Military History
  • World Geography

Career Overview for a Marine

According to the American Community Survey from the Census Bureau:

“The number of people employed in the U. S. Marines Industry Group has been growing at a rate of 2.77%, from 131k people in 2019 to 134k people in 2020.”

The United States must always have an adequate number of military personnel to deter multiple types of conflicts. Global events eventually lead to changes in the size of the different military branches, but you can always expect that there will be a need for marines and the military.

How Much Will I Get Paid?

According to Data USA, the median annual wage for employees of the US Marines was $39.850. The highest-paid occupations in the US Marines were Chief Executives and Legislators who earned over $100,000 per year.

The three locations that employ the most people in the US Marines are Jacksonville City, NC, Camp Pendleton, CA, and Craven County, NC. 

There are several ranks of the Marine Corps, so please consider this when calculating the average salary. The basic rule is the higher your rank, the more you earn. E-1 privates (the lowest rank) only have a starting pay of $1,833/month, while an O-10 4-Star General (the highest rank) will earn $16,975/month.

The Marine: Job Summary

On the outside, it seems like it doesn’t take much to join our military. All you need is to acquire a high school diploma and then pass an aptitude test and medical exam. 

But if you want to become a marine, it will take strength of character. Only the brave and the bold need apply. While the barrier of entry might test your limits, once you graduate, you will have skills and training that normal civilians can only experience from movies and documentaries. 


  • Receiving extensive training such as leadership development, combat, and communications
  • A substantial list of benefits such as health and life insurance, as well as payment for college
  • Many opportunities for career advancement 
  • The ability to travel all over the world and experience new cultures
  • Gaining friendships and a strong sense of camaraderie with your fellow marines


  • Can be physically and mentally demanding as you are constantly placed in high-stress environments
  • Sometimes requires you to be away from home for long periods

Overall, this is a great career for those who want a bit of adventure in their life and want to test their mettle. If you feel like you’ve got what it takes, have graduated from high school, and are under the age of 28, look into joining the United States Marine Corps. Good luck!

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