pros and cons of the marine corps

13 Pros And Cons Of Joining The Marines

When one thinks about the Marine Corps, they usually picture a drill instructor screaming in someones face.

There have been plenty of movies that don’t always paint a very good picture of joining the Marines,

Below is a list of 20 pros and cons of joining the Marine Corps.

If you’ve been on the fence about joining, consider these benefits and drawbacks before signing on the dotted line.

7 Pros Of Joining The Marine Corps

Pro: The Few. The Proud.

You’ll be considered an elite soldier.  Part of an elite fraternity of men and women who have all gone through hell and back to earn the coveted Eagle, Globe, and Anchor, signifying yourself as a United States Marine.

According to the Marine Corps Times, there are 5 soldiers for every 1 Marine.

You are automatically put in a class of soldier that is not only elite, but also feared by the enemy.

It’s no wonder why the official recruiting slogan for the US Marines is “the few, the proud, the marines”.

Pro: Cool Uniforms

There’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it….the Marines have the coolest uniforms.

Especially when compared to the other branches of the military!

examples of marine corps uniforms
Examples of Marine Corps uniforms

Whether walking through an airport, into a bar, or just in general walking about, you’ll be sure to get plenty of looks.

And what’s best is, it’s all free!

Marines are issued all of their uniforms free of charge, and if they get worn out from normal wear and tear, they get replaced as well.

Not exactly the #1 reason to join up, but it certainly doesn’t hurt!

Pro: Sacred Bonds

marine corps brotherhood

You’ll be part of a brotherhood that spans since it’s inception in 1775, and make lifelong friends that will have your back no matter what.

Marines share a common bond that is unlike any other in the world.

These bonds are forged from the minute you step off the bus at boot camp, and last well after you retire from service.

The stem from the fact that, no matter what race, religion, color, or creed you come from, you all have to go through what many consider the toughest military training in the world.

Pro:  You’ll Be A Crack Shot

All Marines are trained to be expert rifleman.

Not only will you qualify to be a crack shot with a rifle, but also with handguns as well.

This comes from the fact that the Marines spend a considerable part of their recruit training learning everything there is to know about your weapon.

That, and you’ll likely spend hours upon hours on the range honing your craft.

Pro:  Chicks Will Dig You

This sort of relates to the uniforms part above, but simply put, you’ll be a chick magnet.

They’ll see you not only as a strong, confident guy, but also in great shape.

You’ll definitely get a LOT more attention from women, especially when out at social events, and especially when in uniform.

Pro:  You’ll Get Paid Fairly Well

While your pay in the Marines is dictated by how long you served and your rank (like every other branch of the military), there’s one thing you’ll never have to worry about: Uncle Sam bouncing his check.

With an annual budget of $700 Billion per year, the US Military is the most well funded of any military in the world.

Just starting out in the Marines, you can expect to take home about $1,600 per month.

That might not sound like a lot, but when you consider most of the things you absolutely need to survive (like food, clothing, housing, etc.) are taken care of for you, it adds up.

Here’s a snapshot of Marine pay for the first 1 – 10 years of service:

marine corps pay 1 - 10 years

Pro:  Free / Subsidized Housing

When you join the Marines, one thing is for sure: you won’t be living in a tent out on the street.

Sure, you might be in a tent in the middle of Afghanistan for several months.

But that only lasts as long as your deployment does.

Once you’re back stateside, you can expect fairly decent accommodations.

As your career progresses through the Corps, things get even better.

The Marines offer government quarters that rival any modern condominium or apartment, and the best part about it?

It’s highly subsidized.

The Marines offer all sorts of housing allowances, including the basic allowance for housing (BAH), Move-In Housing Allowance (MIHA), and Advance Basic Allowance For Housing.

6 Cons Of Joining The Marine Corps

Con: Boot Camp

Marines have, without exception, the hardest boot camp of any of the military branches.

You’ve probably seen movies like Jarhead or Full Metal Jacket, and often wondered if Marine Drill Instructors really are that scary.

Well, they are…

If you don’t believe me, check out this raw footage of new recruits heading in to San Diego recruiting depot to being recruit training.

At Marine boot camp, you can expect to be screamed at, spit on, possibly smacked around a bit, sleep and food deprived, and in general pretty miserable.

It’s all, of course, done for a purpose.

The shape you and your brothers around you to be a part of the most lethal fighting force our nation has to offer.

Con: There’s A Lot Of Discipline

The US Marines are by far the strictest branch of the military when it comes to formalities and appearance.

They have the strictest tattoo policies, the strictest clothing policies, and the strictest overall

You may see a Navy sailor with his hat cocked to the side.

navy sailor with his hat tilted to the side

Even though it’s technically against the rules, the Navy brass generally turns a blind eye to this sort of stuff.

This is not the case in the Marines…

Everything must be in complete order…every button in its right place, every medal or commendation listed in order, and everything squared away exactly how it’s intended to be.

If it isn’t, you’ll likely pay for it big time!

For some guys, especially those that need the sort of discipline to keep order in their life, this can actually be a good thing.

For others, it’s just a pain in the ass.

Con: “First To Fight”

When there’s a war, you’ll be the first one in.  Being a Marine can be very dangerous, especially during wartime.

Even though they are way smaller in size than the Army and Navy, the Marines suffer a disproportionately higher rate of combat casualties and deaths. (Source:

This of course can be attributed to the fact that Marines essentially “pave the way” for other larger forces that move in after the major fighting has been done.

A lot of guys join up with the Marines for that reason, not realizing that war isn’t exactly what they thought it would be.

If you don’t believe me, just watch this short 5 min. video showing recon Marines fighting Taliban soldiers in Afghanistan:

Con: Family Life Can Be Brutal

Being a US Marine means being deployed to hotspots around the world for long periods of time.

Even in peacetime, you can still count on being deployed to a place where you cant bring your family along with you.

Having a wife and kids at home is easy for some, and not so easy for others.

Related Article: 10 Benefits Of Being A Military Wife (and 5 Not-so god things)

It takes a very strong spouse to deal with the fact that you won’t be there for your kids first steps, first words, or first anything.

The Armed Forces have made tremendous strides in developing internet access for their soldiers, sailors, and airmen.

However, given the mission of the Marine Corps, there’s a good chance that you won’t be anywhere near an internet connection.

That means no Skype, no emails, and no internet chatting.

Some of the other branches of the military, particularly the Air Force, do not have this problem.

Con:  Lack Of Job Opportunities After Service

While there are a wide array of jobs (or MOS’) in the Marines, the vast majority of soldiers will serve in an infantry unit.

The reason behind this is simple:  the US Marines need shooters, not accountants or cooks.

While serving in the infantry can land you a job as police officer, security guard, or even a personal security detail specialist, there’s only so many of these jobs available.

Keep in mind that, to land a job as a police officer for instance, you’ll be competing against a lot of other guys that have have equivalent qualifications.

The upside is, as a former Marine, any potential employer will know they have a dedicated candidate with leadership qualities.

If you get lucky, you could end up with a very cushy job in the civilian sector.

Before you join the Marine Corps, you should read this article.

It details 10 jobs in the Marine Corps that pay very well after your service is up, and is a highly recommended read.

Con: Things Can Get REALLY Boring

You’ve seen those Marines commercials that are always showing all the cool stuff, right?

You know what kind of stuff I’m talking about…

Soldiers running in to a helicopter or V-2 osprey, then taking off from an aircraft carrier.

Or driving up a beach in an Amphibious assault vehicle, running on to the beach with guns blazing.

Or even driving through some remote desert in an Abrams tank, shooting at bad guys.

If none of this sounds familiar, check out the video below:

This is what a typical day in the Marine Corps looks like, right?

Well, yes and no…

Sure, there will be times when you’re doing the cool stuff.

However, things can get really boring.

What they don’t show in those commercials is the long hours spent cleaning the bathrooms, picking up trash outside the barracks, or standing guard for 5 hours straight in a sideways driven rain.

If you think all of your time in the Marines will be spent rappelling from helicopters, skydiving from C-130’s, or looking through a sniper score right before your about to take out a Taliban leader, think again.

13 Pros And Cons Of Joining The Marines
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References / Resources

Find A Marine Recruiter

Jobs In The Marines

Marines Official Website

Jeff E.
Jeff E.
Jeff served with the Marine Corps Reserves as an Infantryman with Kilo Co. 3rd Battalion 23rd Marines from 1997 to 2003. 3/23 was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and served primarily in the Wasit Province of Iraq. Since exiting, Jeff has served as a non-profit manager in the area of foster care and adoption.

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