The Marine Corps takes care of its own, ensuring Marines have the financial security at home to focus on the battles they fight and win for our Nation. For a single tour or for an entire career, Marines retain the benefits earned by keeping our Nation safe and free. By becoming one of us, your title will be your membership into an everlasting warriorhood, as those who stand alongside you in battle will never leave your side. To that end, the Marine Corps offers many financial benefits, as well as promotional and advance opportunities.
To effectively fight onward to advance our Nation, Marines must not only be highly skilled, but financially secure. If you earn your title as one of us, we will invest in you, advancing your future—so that you can fight for everyone’s future.
The advantages to becoming a Marine far exceed a guaranteed salary and personal financial security. Each Marine is supported by the Corps through a range of personal and professional resources. Those who earn our title can forever call on the principles instilled in them, the Marines beside them, and the commitments made to them by an unwavering Corps and a grateful Nation. All Marines will:
Receive regular pay raises
Get an additional housing allowance
Gain an opportunity for reenlistment bonuses
Get regular cost-of-living pay increases
Become eligible for special-duty pay and allowances
Receive an annual uniform allowance
Earn attractive retirement benefits
Be eligible for the Thrift Savings Plan
Receive a guaranteed Marine Corps salary
After 20 years of active-duty service in the Marine Corps, Marines earn retirement benefits and a pension, which enables retirement at an earlier age than what is offered through most civilian opportunities. Many retired Marines lead full civilian careers in their communities after their Marine service, knowing they have the added financial security of a Marine Corps pension.
As Marines, it is our responsibility to fight for our Nation through every uncertainty that may arise. This includes our Reserve Marines who train part time all over the United States, many of whom experience worldwide travel annually. Like all Marines, those who come through our Reserve Programs are as instrumental in humanitarian efforts as in combat operations. Download our Marine Reserve pay chart.
When Marines excel in their current rank, they become eligible for promotion into the next. By taking on more responsibility and showing our Corps and country that you can be counted on, you become eligible for further advancement. With each promotion comes new challenges that must be conquered—and new battles that must be won.
The chain of command for the Marine Corps ranks is divided into two groups: Enlisted Marines and Marine Officers. The majority of Marines are enlisted. Enlisted Marines begin at the most junior ranks: private, private first class, and lance corporal. Private has a paygrade of E-1, and each rank has a corresponding paygrade from E-1 through E-9.
The next giant leap after lance corporal is to noncommissioned officer, or NCO.
The NCO ranks are comprised of corporal, then sergeant, followed by the most senior ranks in the Corps: staff NCOs. The staff NCO ranks, in order, include staff sergeant or gunnery sergeant and master sergeant or first sergeant. The single highest-ranking enlisted Marine is the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, who serves alongside the Commandant.
Each enlisted Marine, no matter how junior or senior, is trusted with the responsibility of ensuring the welfare of our country now and into the future.
To commission as a Marine Officer is both a great honor and a great commitment—to the Corps, our Nation, and its people. Regardless of rank, America counts on Marine Officers to lead Marines into battle and win on current and future battlefields.
Second lieutenant, first lieutenant and captain are the first three officer ranks, and those who earn them are referred to as company-grade officers.
Promotion to the rank of major is a significant milestone for Marine Officers, as they join lieutenant colonels and colonels as field-grade officers. The final promotion in the field-grade officer ranks is to colonel.
Rising to the rank of General is a great honor. Each of the general ranks is also associated with one-star up to four-stars and includes brigadier general, major general, lieutenant general and general.
The most senior officer rank is four-star general, referred to simply as general. These top-level officers are nominated by the President and must also be confirmed for duty by the Senate. The highest-ranking Marine Officer, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, is also a four-star general and serves on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.