Marine Corps Military Occupational Specialty (MOS)

By Chris Kolmar - Jan. 11, 2021

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Are you looking for a lifelong career? You might want to think about enlisting in “The Few. The Proud. The Marines.” This iconic slogan has set the Marines apart for decades, but there’s more to being a Marine than being an elite force. It’s actually a great place to begin your career.

There are more than 180 enlisted jobs with the USMC, from computer sciences to special operations and a whole lot of ground in between. You can learn your skill and trade while also accomplishing some physical and structural goals. It’s a different approach to well-rounded training, but it’s the perfect track for many.

What Is the Marine Corps?

The United States Marine Corps is one of the eight uniformed services of the United States, and it’s been around since 1834. The Marines pair closely with the Navy, but they also operate on land and have aviation squadrons.

The Marine Corps’ slogan is true. There are not many of them, especially compared to other military branches, and it takes grit, strength, and determination to become a Marine. The physical fitness standards are the most difficult, so they expect people who apply to be disciplined and determined.

There is a saying that “All Marines are Riflemen,” and this is true. It’s part of your training and quite possibly the most important part.

The people who qualify and make it into the Marines are in for a “job” training like none other but one that will give them the strength of character, physical strength, and a level of confidence in their ability that’s hard to come by.

Why Join the Marine Corps?

If this sounds like you, you’re tougher than most, laser-focused on your goals, and a physical beast – then the USMC is for you.

Joining the Marines is not something that should be taken lightly. It’s for people who are driven to put others before themselves, to the point of being willing to die for them and the country. It doesn’t matter what you think of the person individually. Your duty comes before all else.

You are a rifleman. You will hear, time and again, that Marines are Riflemen. Actually, it’s probably best stated the other way. Riflemen become Marines. If deep inside you, whether you’re proficient with a rifle or not at this point, you’re a rifleman and ready to fight, then the Marines are calling you. It’s in your heart, your gut, and your soul.

There are benefits to being a Marine, and there are many opportunities that will come your way, but you need first to pass the muster, and it’s not an easy task. Once in, you will develop inner and outer strength, loyalty to your country, a high level of integrity and knowledge. You will be seen as a leader, earn great respect, and be held in high esteem.

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Becoming a Marine

If you’re thinking about becoming a Marine, then your first stop should be to a recruiter’s office to discuss your potential path.

  • Enlisted Marine Eligibility. An enlisted Marine has to meet standards of moral, mental, and physical strength. There is also an aptitude test and initial strength test, as well as the following initial eligibility requirements:

    • At least 17 years of age and under 29 when recruit training starts

    • Proof of legal residency

    • Physical examination

    • High school diploma

    • Attend and graduate recruit training

  • Officer of Marines Eligibility. If you’ve been selected to become an officer, you will be placed in the most suitable area: Ground, Aviation, or Law. Their requirements include:

    • Between 18 and 28 years of age

    • Citizen of the United States

    • Physical examination

    • Hold a bachelor’s degree or be a full-time student in a regionally or nationally accredited college or university.

    • Must graduate from Officer Candidate School

Marine Corps MOS

What is MOS? The USMC breaks down the jobs they have into Military Occupation Specialties. Many of the jobs the Marines offer are related to combat. But if you want to be a Marine, you’ve already decided that being a rifleman is part of who you are, and you might be okay with that.

Let’s take a look at what some of the combat careers are within the Marines:

  • Marine Ground Combat MOSs include:

    • Marine Sniper

    • M1A1 Abrams Tank Crew Marine

    • Amphibious Assault Vehicle Operator

    • Mortar Marine

    • Infantry Assault Marine

  • Marine Aviation Combat MOSs include:

    • Aircraft Maintenance Marine

    • Helicopter Mechanic

    • Aviation Ordnance Technician

    • Aviation Supply Specialist

    • Air Traffic Controller

    • Marine Corps Pilot

  • Marine Combat Support MOSs include:

    • Counterintelligence Specialist

    • Logistics Chief

    • Military Police and Corrections Marine

    • Military Working Dog Handler

    • Cyber Security Technician

    • USMC Landing Support

All MOS in the Marines

But that isn’t all that the Marines have to offer. There are a lot of non-combat related positions within their organization as well. The following is a complete list of the Military Occupational Service areas:

  • Personnel and Administration

  • Intelligence

  • Infantry

  • Logistics

  • Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Plans

  • Communications

  • Field Artillery

  • Training

  • Utilities

  • Engineer, Construction, Facilities, and Equipment

  • Tank and Assault Amphibious Vehicle

  • Ground Ordnance Maintenance

  • Ammunition and Explosive Ordnance Disposal

  • Signals Intelligence/Ground Electronic Warfare

  • Linguist

  • Ground Electronics Maintenance

  • Supply Administration and Operations

  • Traffic Management

  • Food Service

  • Financial Management

  • Motor Transport

  • Marine Corps Community Services

  • Public Affairs

  • Legal Services

  • Combat Camera

  • Music

  • Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Defense

  • Military Police and Corrections

  • Electronics Maintenance

  • Avionics

  • Aviation Ordnance

  • Aviation Logistics

  • Meteorology and Oceanography

  • Airfield Services

  • Air Control/Air Support/Anti-air Warfare/Air Traffic Control

  • Navigation Officer/Enlisted Flight Crews

  • Miscellaneous Requirements

In addition to these areas, there are several careers that fall under each one. For instance, under the Personnel and Administration area, you could be a postal clerk or a substance abuse control specialist. So, you can see that not all of them are combat-related, and there are many areas to specialize in.

The MOS system uses four numbers. The first two numbers designate the area a career is in. These numbers will correspond directly with one of the areas listed above. As an example, Personnel and Administration use code 01.

The second two numbers in the MOS four number career categorization system refers directly to the position. An Administrative Specialist in the USMC gets the code 11, and because it falls under the Personnel and Administration category (01), the job code for this position is 0111.

The ASVAB Test and the Marines

To get into the Marines, you have to take the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). To qualify for the Marines, you must score at least a 32 on the test. This does not mean you had that many points right. It means that you scored better than 32 percent of all the other members of the base youth population.

There is a computerized ASVAB test and a written one. Each takes about three hours, with timed sections in both. The standard format is as follows:

  • General Science

  • Arithmetic Reasoning

  • Word Knowledge

  • Paragraph Comprehension

  • Mathematics Knowledge

  • Electronics Information

  • Automotive and Shop Information

  • Mechanical Comprehension

  • Assembling Objects

  • Verbal Expression

But there’s more than just eligibility at stake when you take the ASVAB. It’s also used to determine your aptitude area scores or what career areas you’ll fit in best.

You’ll find that when you speak to a recruiter, and it’s in your best interest to speak openly and honestly with them about your interests, the recruiter will select your field. This correlates to the first two letters in that MOS code.

So, you may go in knowing what area you’ll be working in. The thing you won’t know is the specific job you will have. This is where the information from the ASVAB comes into play.

This is one of the main reasons people say that to be a Marine, first and foremost, you will be a rifleman, but you might not get to pick the exact career you want to do. They may see that you’re fit for an entirely different career.

Where Will I Live and Work

Another thing to consider when planning a future with the Marines is where you’ll be stationed. This means where you’re going to live and work. Some people in the military do a lot of traveling with their job. Of course, where you also depend on the political climate of the world at the time.

Other jobs within the Marines are located in specific regions of the country. It’s worth researching where those locations are if where you’re stationed matters to you.

Final Thoughts

Remember that your enlisted time in the Marines can be relatively short when compared to your entire career. This could be your perfect opportunity to get out and experience the world, travel, meet people from different backgrounds, and get incredibly fit while learning a profession.

For a few people, this is the proud moment of realization. The Marines can be your win-win in life.

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Chris Kolmar


Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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