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Every Marine's career will look different.


The unique nature of personality, MOS, duty stations, and timing prevent us from giving you a generic answer, but here are some things you can expect regardless.

We've broken this down into what a typical day might look like in garrison and what career progression in the Marines might look like.


A typical day in the Marine Corps may look something like this:

Monday to Friday

0500 - Physical Training 

0600 - Shower

0630 - Breakfast

0730 - Get to Work

1130 - Break for noon chow

1230 - Back to work

1630 - Work day ends

On Thursday's, Marines will "field day" the barracks from 1530 until 1730, or longer until everything is clean.

Marines will also stand "Duty," which entails roving the barracks or other designated command spaces ensuring their security, the well-being of other Marines, and the good order and discipline of the spaces. This is an after-hours job, performed on nights, holidays, and weekends.

If the Marine does not have duty and the unit is not in the field, Marines typically have weekends and after hours off to do whatever they like.

In fleet units, Marines will "go to the field" to practice the expeditionary aspects of their MOS. This is especially true for combat arms and combat service support MOS's. Life in the field is less regimented and more mission oriented.

Life in the field is meant to replicate a combat environment in order to further train Marines in their MOS and prepare them for deployments.


These ranks are known as Junior Marines and are generally held from boot camp through year 3 or 4 of enlistment.

This makes up close to half of the Marine Corps active duty population. Junior Marines are the "doers" in the Corps.

The first year of a Marine Corps career is spent teaching the Marine the basics of the Marine Corps, attending the School of Infantry, and completing MOS School.

Once Marines get to "the Fleet" they will begin performing their duties at their unit. Most Junior Marines typically have few responsibilities beyond their own work.

Marines typically remain at one duty station for this entire enlistment (unless they are stationed overseas, in which case they will do two).

Junior Marines generally live in barracks, march in formations, clean the barracks and other spaces on field day, and more. Being at the bottom of the organization can be tough, but life gets easier as you promote into the next ranks.



Known as the backbone of the Marine Corps, these ranks are known as non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and are generally held from years 4 to 8 of enlistment.

NCOs lead junior Marines and are responsible for between 3 and 15 on average. They work directly with platoon commanders and Officers in Charge to make the Marine Corps succeed.

NCOs will be responsible for looking after their Marines, mentoring, coaching, and developing them. They will also direct them in tasks day to day.

Corporals attend Corporals Course and Sergeants attend Sergeants Course to learn more about how to perform their duties after they promote. They also have opportunities to attend higher level MOS schools to advance their skills.

Due to the increased responsibilities, NCOs also get increased privileges such as access to the NCO clubs and more. 


Typical roles for a Corporal are fire team leader or section head. Sergeants serve in roles as squad leaders, NCOs in Charge (NCOIC), and some Special Duty Assignments such as recruiting and Marine Security Guard.

Marines are provided these promotions based on performance and time in service. They compete with other Marines in their MOS for selection.



Staff Sergeants and Gunnery Sergeants are known as Staff NCOs. This marks the transition to being a career Marine. Marines will be selected to the rank of Staff Sergeant around their 8th year of enlistment and selected to Gunnery Sergeant around years 12 to 14. They may finish their career as a Gunnery Sergeant or continue to promote with time, depending on MOS.

Staff NCOs run the Marine Corps and serve as right hand advisors to the Officers leading the units they are attached to. Officers rely on their experience and insight to make decisions to accomplish the mission.

They attend career level Professional Military Education (PME) and other higher MOS schools to advance their careers.

Typical roles for a Staff NCO are platoon sergeant, Staff NCO In Charge (SNCOIC), and some Special Duty Assignments such as recruiting and drill instructors.



Master Sergeants and Master Gunnery Sergeants are the highest ranking enlisted. They serve as Company and Battalion Chiefs, as well as in roles at Regiments, Division, Group, and more.

They are the consummate technical experts in their MOS and help to plan operations or teach courses at their MOS school houses.

They pick up the rank of Master Sergeant around year 18 of their enlistment and Master Gunnery Sergeant around year 22.



First Sergeants and Sergeant Majors provide vital functions such as helping to craft policy, ensure good order and discipline, teach junior Marines, and more.

First Sergeants are advisors to Company Commanders. Upon promotion to Sergeant Major, they will perform the same function at either Battalion, Regiment, or higher.  Every base has a Sergeant Major, as does every major unit.

Key Training Events
Sergeant Instructors
Pre-OCS Checklist
Basic Daily Routine
Eating at OCS
Living in the Squadbay
5 Paragraph Order
Getting Ready
What Can I Bring with Me?
Staying in Touch
PT Plans
OCS Knowledge
Knowledge Check
Family Day
Pro Tips
The Rumor Mill
Counseling Call
Honor Grad Principles
Reading Materials
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