Updated: Jan 18, 2022
A Marine's Military Occupational Specialty, or MOS, defines the entirety of their career. An MOS will dictate potential duty locations, units, promotion opportunities, and so much more. Because of this, we commonly get the question: How do Marines get assigned their MOSs? To answer this question, we have to look at two separate paths, one for Enlisted Marines and one for Marine Officers.
Enlisted Marines can contract into a particular MOS field when they complete their contracting process with their recruiter at the MEPS location. At that time, they will be assigned a Program Enlisted For code, or PEF code, on their contract. Contracts available to a prospect will be based on their ASVAB scores and the "Needs of the Marine Corps," a phrase most Marine will hear innumerable times during their career. Marine Corps manpower planners look at forecasts of future force numbers and decide how many of each contract will be required in a given fiscal year - hence Needs of the Marine Corps. Needs are based on the size of an MOS field. Some MOS's such as infantry are large in contrast to the small musician field.
Candidates have very little, if any influence on this factor, but the Recruiter will provide the candidate with a list of options which they qualify for based on their ASVAB scores and what the Corps has available at that time. Poolees will ship to recruit training with a PEF code such as AE, CE, or HZ. The PEF Code listed on the contract has either one or many MOS's under it. For example, the Infantry PEF code of UH includes the specialties of Rifleman, Machinegunner, and other MOSs, all under the umbrella of the UH Infantry PEF code.
Before boot camp graduation, recruits will be informed by their Drill Instructors the specific MOS they will be assigned upon graduation. Another option for Enlisted Marines is for poolees to enter the Marine Corps as an "open contract." This contracting occurs with the enlistee's recruiter, and the Marine will be provided a specific MOS at the completion of recruit training based on the manpower needs of the Marine Corps.
Commissioned Officers have the ability to commission with Ground, Air, or Law Contracts through their commissioning source. Officers who are contracted into the Law or Aviation programs will attend OCS and TBS as normal and will matriculate into appropriate legal and aeronautical education pipelines. Ground Contract Officers will not receive their MOSs until they near graduation from TBS.
Unlike Law and Aviation candidates, ground officers must compete for any MOS they may receive. This competition for and assignment to MOS's will occur at TBS. After being assigned their MOS, they will continue to their MOS School immediately after graduation.
These officers are provided a list of twenty-two MOSs which they can enter. They will rank these MOSs from most to least desirable, and they will provide this wish list to TBS staff. Utilizing student Officer academic rankings and the needs of the Corps, they will be assigned an MOS for continuing training after TBS.
Candidates who sign for Marine Aviation Contracts will serve as Pilots of fixed wing, rotary wing, or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) platforms. Following TBS, they will report to flight school and begin their training. Marine Aviators compete for and are assigned aviation platforms while in flight school. Aviators obligated service begins after receiving their "wings" and is 6 years of active duty for rotary wing and 8 years for fixed wing platforms. Applicants for any flight training program must attain the minimum score on the SAT, ACT or ASVAB, as well as receive a qualifying score for the Aviation Selection Test Battery Series E, including appropriate sections of Academic Qualifications Rating (AQR), Pilot Flight Aptitude Rating (PFAR) and Flight Officer Flight Aptitude Rating (FOFAR). Only the most recent ASTB score may be used for qualification. Minimum acceptable scores for Student Naval Aviator (SNA): 4 on AQR and 6 on PFAR.
Marine lawyers, known as Judge Advocates, are in a unique position. They understand state, federal, and military law. They serving as advisors to commanders on issues ranging from the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) to handling troop discipline (courts martial and non-judicial punishments), contracts and acquisitions to exercise and operational plans and execution. They can be trial lawyers or provide legal counseling. To practice law as a Marine Officer is a calling for those who have what it takes, mentally, morally and physically to become a leader of Marines, an advocate for their peers, and a steward of legal jurisprudence in the military. Prior to becoming a Judge Advocate lawyer you must graduate from an accredited law school, pass the bar exam, complete OCS and TBS, where you will learn the same leadership and combat skills as all other officers. From there, you will receive training on the military justice system at the Naval Justice School (NJS) in Newport, RI. At this school you will learn the basic aspects of military law, including the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Criminal Law and Procedure, Operational Law, Trial Advocacy and Administrative Law. By completing your training, you will prove to yourself and to our Corps that you have what it takes to win as a Marine Officer and Judge Advocate.