How to Rise Through the Ranks in the Marine Corps


Promotion in the Marine Corps to the private first class and lance corporal ranks are virtually automatic after six and nine months, respectively. Beyond lance corporal, however, promotions are competitive. The organization periodically determines how many additional soldiers it needs at each rank and promotes soldiers up one rank at a time on the basis of a complex point system. The key to earning promotions fast is to accumulate more points than the other marines at your rank.

Seek Out Education

  • One of the easiest ways to accumulate promotion points is by taking courses at a local college, vocational school or through the Marine Corps Institute. College and vocational classes add 10 points to your score, while MCI courses count for 15 points. Up to 100 education points can count towards your total score, according to Marines Magazine, so you can max out your education points with as few as seven classes. Extra education can also help you land a desirable job in the Marine Corps. For example, completing technical courses in avionics could help you transfer to a job working on helicopters.

Improve Your Physical Fitness

  • Your scores on two fitness tests, the Physical Fitness Test and the Combat Fitness Test, count for points towards promotions. The PFT includes a three-mile run, abdominal crunches, pullups for men and a flexed-arm hang for women. The CFT features an 880-yard run, a maneuver under fire drill and ammo lifts. Promotion boards combine the results of these tests into a composite score, divide the score by three and then multiply it by 100 to determine your promotion points. Minimum requirements vary according to sex and age, but the better your perform the more points you earn.

Volunteer for Special Duty

  • Another way to boost your score is to volunteer for special duties, especially if the Marine Corps has difficulty finding volunteers to perform those duties. According to Marines Magazine, you can add up to 100 points to your score with special duty. Working as a recruiter, a drill instructor or a security guard all help you accumulate points. Even if you aren't a recruiter, you can earn 20 points for every new recruit you refer to the Marine Corps, for up to 100 bonus points.

Commissioned Officers

  • If you're a marine hoping to earn a promotion beyond the rank of sergeant major, you're only option is to become a commissioned officer. That requires applying for the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program. Acceptance to the MECEP program requires a high school diploma or GED, a score of at least 1000 on the SAT and the ability to obtain a secret security clearance based on a background check. MECEP only accepts marines who have obtained the rank of lance corporal and are between 20 and 26 years old. You must also agree to serve at least six years more if you are accepted to the program.

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