For almost 250 years, the Marine Corps has been known to be as tough as they come. They are first in and last out and do the grunt work for a successful mission. Those looking to join the military have several options to choose from. But, there are some that are born to be Marines and for them it is really the only option.
However, before you pull on your United States Marines shirts and head over to the recruitment office. It pays to take a look at what it is actually like to be a Marine. You probably will still want to join, but there are things that would be helpful to know before you sign on the dotted line.
In this article, we will give you an idea of what life in the Marines is really like so you can decide for yourself if it is really for you.
Of all the branches of the military, basic training in the Marines is by far the toughest. And for good reason. They are asked to do the hard work of softening up the opposition before the ground troops arrive so they have to be steeled. Which means a very rigorous basic training.
When you sign up for the Marines, you will be sent either to Parris Island in South Carolina or the Recruit Training Depot at San Diego, California. If you sign up from a location east of the Mississippi, then you’ll be sent to Parris Island. West and it’s off to California for you.
Once you arrive you will have to submit to a strength and fitness test called the IST or Initial Strength Test to determine what kind of shape you are in. For most recruits this test is easily passed. However, if you fail then you are passed over to the Physical Conditioning Platoon to get you up to speed so you can complete the phases of basic training.
The basic training lasts for 12 and a half weeks and once you finish you are required to take a final test called the Physical Fitness Test or PFT.
The Marines like to promote team building a sense of cohesion among their ranks. Which is why they make shared barracks mandatory rather than allowing junior enlisted members their own space. It was this way among all the branches at one time, but the others decided to allow single rooms.
Think of barracks life as living in a dorm and then it doesn’t seem so bad. You’re sharing a room with your bunkmate and a bathroom just for the two of you. In some ways it is better than a dorm since you aren’t sharing a bathroom with the entire pod on your floor.
As you gain seniority you will get better accommodations that match your rank.
Think of the base as a village where everybody has a role and try to get along the best they can. The difference is that you don’t have to cook for yourself as there is a cafeteria that serves all the food that you need. Everything else you need is found on base including shopping centers and even movie theaters.
What are the job opportunities?
The Marines are considered war machines and are trained as such but there is more to it than that. You have job options that go beyond actual combat duties. This is because the military is a self contained functional system that does everything it needs from within. You can find jobs like IT and programming to supply chain logistics. Whatever your interests are, there is sure to be a concentration for you.
Specific to the Marines are almost 200 jobs called Military Occupational Specialties. Many of the non combat support jobs the Marines need are supplied by the Navy. So, there are more combat related jobs in the Marines than in other branches.
That being said, since more and more combat operations are technology driven, there is a huge need for people with technical skills to see these operations through. If you have any interest in networking or electronic communications then you will find plenty of opportunities to do this kind of work.
Consider your skills and your interests and you can apply for the right Military Occupational Specialty that best suits you so your experience in the Marines will be more enjoyable.
You may opt to make the Marines your life and settle into a career that takes you from basic training all the way to retirement. However, when you decide you have had enough of the military life and wish to become a civilian again, you will be primed to do some great things in life. Not only were you able to get hands on experience in a particular field that will help you find a civilian job, but you also can get a great education out of it.
If you are honorably discharged from any of the Armed Forces you get a monthly education benefit called the GI Bill. This goes towards your higher education and can help you earn a degree without paying tuition.
Take advantage of everything the GI Bill has to offer like housing benefits and other costs it covers besides your tuition so you can get an excellent education. For many this is the main reason to enlist so that higher education is more accessible and can advance your life and career.
Military life is not for everybody. And even those that look to enlist may find that the Marines is not for them and choose another branch. But, those that do join will always take the motto Semper Fi to heart and can take their experience with them for the rest of their lives. It is like joining a fraternity but with far more at stake then the Greek life has to offer. Which is why they say “Once a Marine, always a Marine”.