Officer & Enlisted Careers

Which option is better for you?

Although we provide detailed information on each career path on the Enlisted and Officer Info sections of this site, we will compare the two career fields here to try and help you decide which one helps you achieve your goals.

Officer Careers

Officer's fill leadership roles in the Marine Corps. Commissioned Officers serve as the leaders of units and special staff sections.  Warrant Officers and Limited Duty Officers serve as special staff officers who lead technical occupational fields.  There are approximately 23,000 officers on active duty and in the Marine Corps reserves.

A typical Marine Officer's Career will begin with Officer Candidate School, then attending the Basic School where they will earn an MOS, MOS School, Platoon Command, a B-Billet (recruiting, working at a recruit Depot, teaching NROTC), Professional Military Education, Company Command, another B-billet, Battalion Executive Officer, Battalion Commander or principal Staff Officer.

Commissioned officers do not enlist. They serve indefinitely at the pleasure of the President of the United States, holding a commission that charges them with the duties and responsibilities of their specific rank. Commissioned Officers' promotions are confirmed by the Senate.  Warrant Officers are selected and promoted by the Commandant of the Marine Corps.

Roughly 1,700 Marine Officers are either commissioned or given warrants each year.  

Commissioned Officers must have a 4-year degree (Bachelor's Degree) and be between 22 and 28 years of age at Commissioning.

Enlisted Careers

Enlisted Marines are the doers in the Marine Corps.  They are technically proficient, experienced, serve as officers' trusted advisers, and can work within their occupational specialties for longer into their careers.

A typical Marine Enlisted career will begin with boot camp, then Marine Combat Training, MOS School, and a fleet tour.  Marines who reenlist will do another fleet tour or supporting establishment tour, be considered for a special duty assignment (drill instructor, recruiter, or embassy Marine), and then continue to promote and serve between fleet units and the supporting establishment.

Marines will typically enlist for 4 year contracts, and can reenlist repeatedly.  Roughly 30,000 Marines enlist each year.  There are approximately 180,000 Marines on active duty and in the reserves.

To Enlist, the applicant must be at least 17 years old, be a high school graduate (or have a GED equivalent), be a citizen (or have a permanent citizen status), and pass a basic physical exam.

The title of Marine is earned upon completion of either Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) Parris Island, SC or San Diego, CA.  Every male recruit west of the Mississippi River will attend MCRD San Diego, while every male east of the Mississippi and every female will attend MCRD Parris Island.