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U.S. Marine Enlisted Military Ranks

Ever since the creation of the Continental Marines on November 10, 1775, the United States Marine Corps has defended our nation valiantly by participating in virtually every conflict in the history of the United States Armed Forces. Even though the official doctrine of the USMC establishes it as an amphibious force-in-readiness, this branch of the Armed Forces is far more than that. In reality, Marines can dominate our enemies from the air, from the land, and from the sea. This ability is forged through the development of an unbelievably motivated, dedicated, highly-trained, and… basically fanatic enlisted force. These professionals live by the motto, Semper Fidelis (generally expressed as Semper Fi by Marines), which is Latin for “Always Faithful.” Marines are truly that, and much more.

Marines who enlist are not required to obtain a four-year degree prior to service. However, a degree is a great way to improve chances for promotion. Armed with a bachelor’s degree, a Marine can help his/her chances for promotion within the enlisted ranks, improve the chances for promotion to Warrant Officer, or even qualify for a commission. When a Marine decides to re-enter the civilian workforce, a college degree will certainly benefit him/her when experiencing that transition. To find schools that support your drive to earn a degree, click on the "Find A School" button below:


Private is the lowest rank in the Marine Corps, just below Private First Class. A Marine Corps Private has no uniform insignia. The role of a Private is to learn about the Marine Corps, military customs, and to follow orders. Most new, non-officer Marines begin their military career as a Private.

USMC Private First Class (PFC)
Private First Class (PFC)
With six months of time in grade as a Private, Marines are promoted to the next rank, which is Private First Class (PFC). A Marine may start his career as a Private First Class with college credits or participation in Junior ROTC. A PFC is charged with becoming technically proficient at his/her MOS.
USMC Lance Corporal (LCPL)
Lance Corporal (LCpl)
A Lance Corporal (LCpl) is not a non-commissioned officer and is not referred to as "Corporal." A Marine at this level should have achieved an intermediate level of proficiency at his/her MOS.
USMC Corporal (CPL)
Corporal (Cpl)
Corporal (Cpl) is the first rank of non-commissioned officer in the Marine Corps. A Cpl may serve as a fire team leaders, but is frequently designated as a squad leader. Corporals are frequently given their first vehicle command at this rank.
USMC Sergeant (SGT)
Sergeant (Sgt)
Sergeant (Sgt) is the first rank that requires a Marine to achieve further promotions via the Fitrep (Fitness Report). Sergeants are usually assigned as squad leaders in an infantry company.
USMC Staff Sergeant (SSGT)
Staff Sergeant (SSgt)
A Staff Sergeant (SSgt) in the Marine Corps will commonly serve as the platoon sergeant. This requires a SSgt to supervise squad leaders in the platoon, and is also the second in command under the platoon commander.
USMC Gunnery Sergeant (GYSGT)
Gunnery Sergeant (GySgt)
A Gunnery Sergeant (GySgt), or "Gunny," is usually in charge of logistics and/or operations for a company of Marines in the infantry. A GySgt may also serve as platoon sergeant for weapons platoons, but that duty usually falls to those new to the rank.
USMC Master Sergeant (MSGT)
Master Sergeant (MSgt)
A Master Sergeant (MSgt) in the Marine Corps is there to provide technical leadership as occupational specialists. He/she is, however, expected to provide leadership to Marines of lower rank and display the professionalism expected of a Marine of that rank.
USMC First Sergeant (1SGT)
First Sergeant (1stSgt)
The First Sergeant is the same rank as a Master Sergeant, yet the two have very different responsibilities. The First Sergeant is a leader first, while the Master Sergeant has technical responsibilities.
USMC Master Gunnery Sergeant (MGYSGT)
Master Gunnery Sergeant (MGySgt)
Not unlike the rank of Master Sergeant, the rank of Master Gunnery Sergeant (MGySgt) calls for an individual with superior occupational proficiency. Considering the nature of modern warfare, the MGySgt is an invaluable asset to the Marine Corps.
USMC Sergeant Major (SGTMAJ)
Sergeant Major (SgtMaj)
A Marine Corps Sergeant Major serves as the senior enlisted Marine at the battalion level, squadron level or higher echelon. He or she may also serve as the unit commander's senior enlisted advisor and to handle matters of discipline and morale among the enlisted Marines.
USMC Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps (SGTMAJMC)
Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps (SgtMajMC)
The Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps is selected by the Commandant of the Marine Corps to serve as his/her advisor. This individual is the highest ranking enlisted Marine.
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