The United States Marine Corps is a unique branch of the military that is extremely elite and fierce.
Within the Marine Corps lies a special MOS that is even more elite and fearsome, U.S. Marine Recon. MOS 0321 is the designation for Marine recon.
What exactly is Marine reconnaissance? It is a MOS that is very difficult to be selected for and it is one of the most challenging and high-speed career options that the USMC has to offer.
Recon Marines are warriors who aren’t afraid to fight in the shadows or go to locations where others refuse to venture.
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They are trained in elite fighting tactics and tactical weapons and are the go-to for many top-secret missions in various countries around the world.
It requires hard work, discipline, and unmatched willpower to succeed as a Marine in the 0321 MOS.
Marines who become recon Marines have an indomitable spirit that exemplifies the esprit de corps.
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Requirements and Qualifications
- Successfully complete Marine School of Infantry
- Have a GT score of 105 or higher on the ASVAB
- Have a first-class PFT score
- Have a first-class swimmer qualification
- Be a U.S. citizen
- Eyesight correctable to 20/20
- Normal color vision
- Be eligible for a secret clearance
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Training and Career Path
All Marines wanting to attempt the Marine recon indoctrination must first pass the Marine School of Infantry.
It is a 59-day training course that covers basic riflemen maneuvers, basic fire team formations, and weapons training.
Following the completion of this school, eligible Marines may attend the indoctrination for Marine recon, which is a 3-phase cycle that tests the willpower, dedication, and endurance of anyone who is seeking to be considered part of Marine reconnaissance.
The first phase of the indoctrination is primarily used as a proving ground for individuals.
Pass this 4-week phase and show that you have the heart and desire to be there, then you will move on to the second phase.
During the first phase, Marines are constantly tested and drilled to see who will quit, and who truly wants to remain through the rest of the training.
The second phase is 3 weeks long and isn’t any easier, but transitions more into teamwork.
Marines will have to prove that they can think through problems, work together as a team, and have the abilities to be effective communicators.
Finally, Marines will move on to the third phase, which is two weeks long and focuses on maritime missions.
Missions will evolve to include night raids, patrols, amphibious reconnaissance, boat operations, and nautical navigation.
Small unit tactics will be stressed, and Marines will once again have to prove that they can be effective communicators.
How Much Are They Paid?
Recon Marines do not receive any special pay incentives.
The only time that they may see a pay bump is during training or while performing tasks associated with special training, i.e. SCUBA training or while in jump school.
This pay bump is known as hazard pay and will be exclusive for short periods of time.
Additionally, if a Marine, in any MOS, scores a 2/2 on the FLPT they will be eligible for special pay.
Other than these few examples, Marines in the 0321 MOS will receive the same base pay as everyone in the military.
The pay scale for 2023 looks like the following:
- E1 > 4 months in service: $1,773
- E2: $2,149
- E3: $2,259
- E4: $2,503
All the above salaries are representative of less than two years in service. A complete list of military pay scales can be found online by searching for 2023 military pay charts.
Day in the Life of a Recon Marine
Recon Marines will start their days out with physical training by swimming, running, hiking, or doing team workouts.
Physical training can last anywhere from an hour to multiple hours, depending on the squad and platoon.
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It can also be added to other training, such as fire team maneuvers, weapons tactics, or maritime operations.
The first review is from a reconnaissance Marine who gives a thorough review of what life as a 0321 Marine is like.
The second review is from a Marine infantryman who gives a positive review of what it is like to train as an infantryman, the gateway for being a recon Marine.
0321 Marines are highly trained and ready to take on any fight.
They train regularly with weapons and squad tactics and keep themselves incredibly fit and ready to go at a moment’s notice.
It is expensive to train and equip recon Marines, so the USMC makes sure to utilize these elite warriors as frequently as possible.
Recon Marines can be deployed for short periods of time to any number of countries where they may conduct various missions that support the overall mission of the United States military.
Additionally, Marines in the 0321 MOS may see lengthy deployments of 7 or 8 months to Iraq, Afghanistan, or other theaters of operations.
While deployed, recon Marines may be involved in intense firefights or be tasked with helping to train foreign militaries.
Every deployment will be unique to each unit and the needs of the Marine Corps.
Civilian Career Opportunities
Many reconnaissance Marines have found successful careers in government contracting, private security, and even careers in law enforcement following their time in service.
There are several accounts of Marines getting out of the service and doing anywhere from one to multiple tours as government contractors to continue the mission that they were doing while in the military.
One significant difference is that there is a significant pay increase for government contractors in comparison to military service members.
Of course, this is not always a long-term career option, so Marines with the training and discipline from the military may lean towards a career in law enforcement or working for a federal agency.
Recon Marines are more than equipped to take on the role of a police officer, SWAT member, or other elite law enforcement member.
Police officers are in high demand with a projected job growth of 3% and median annual salaries of around $66,020.
Federal agencies are also needing qualified individuals to join their ranks as more and more individuals hit their retirement age.
Some perspective agencies that could utilize recon Marines are the FBI, Border Patrol, DHS, DEA, and the U.S. Marshals.
These are all stable careers with the potential for longevity, good wages, and outstanding retirement benefits.
Of course, Marines leaving the USMC Force Recon are not restricted to careers in law enforcement.
There is always the option of utilizing the Post 9-11 GI Bill to attend college or career training programs for a large variety of jobs that are facing a shortage in the near future.
The discipline and dedication that it takes to be a reconnaissance Marine has also been beneficial to Marines who have chosen to pursue entrepreneurial lifestyles and build both small and large businesses.
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