An Officer Career
Marine Corps Officers are legendary for their ability to lead and do so when most of their college counterparts are still in entry-level positions. It is no surprise that many Marine Corps Officers become community and business leaders as they advance through life. Being an officer is an exceptional challenge so the Corps only takes the best and the brightest.
Assignments are given according to the needs of the Marine Corps, and officers seek assignments that will give them a balance of command experience, combat experience and joint staff appointments. New officers will first be assigned to duty performing their primary Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) in the operating forces. This will likely include deployment with their Marines.
After service in the operating forces, they will serve in non-MOS-related positions, such as recruiting duty. This rotation in assignment between the operating forces and non-operating forces builds officers' tactical skill sets and their understanding of the scope of Marine Corps operations, qualifying them to advance to greater levels of responsibility. This philosophy also benefits the Corps by creating a pool of adaptable leaders capable of taking on different challenges as needed.
Unlike other fields where a long period of initial education qualifies a practitioner for life, as an officer of Marines you will have the opportunity to advance much earlier in life—taking on leadership roles that make a real impact on the world.
The Marine Corps career emphasizes professional military education throughout a career. After specialized training and their first tour, officers may be assigned to career-level schools like Expeditionary Warfare School. This education is a full-time assignment—part of their military duty—and is as important as any deployment. Assignment to intermediate and advanced schools, like the Naval War College in Newport, RI, or the NATO Defense College in Rome, is considered an honor; colonels vie for limited spots, securing recommendations from senior officers in order to attend.
This ongoing military education makes the Marine Corps an organization of world-class military professionals. In addition, the Marine Corps has programs to help its officers earn advanced degrees such as a master's degree or Ph.D. This education will contribute not only to their military career, but also to their civilian life. For more on these programs, see Benefits.
The first tour is when officers begin to apply their specialized training skills to lead a unit in the operating forces. Although many Marine Officers cite their first tour as the most rewarding part of their career, it is just the beginning. Officers earn promotion based on time in rank, successful performance in assignments and appropriate education. Each new assignment includes opportunities for personal and professional growth, as well as increased responsibility. Throughout their career, Marine Officers must focus on the training, welfare and growth—for themselves and for the Marines they lead.