How To Prepare for Joining the Marines

by James Porterson about a year ago in marine corps

Here's everything you need to know before joining the Marines.

How To Prepare for Joining the Marines

Deciding to join the military is a huge commitment. Deciding to join the U.S. Marines is an even bigger one, even with all the myths about the Marines that civilians believe. With the most stringent physical requirements of any of the military branches of service, making sure you're up to the test, both physically and mentally, because preparing to join the Marines is very important.

Before you embark on the life-changing process of becoming a marine corps recruit, whether just out of high school or joining the Marines from the workforce, there are some key steps you can take to help set yourself up for success, both in basic training and beyond.

Initial Strength Test Preparation

Your recruiter will be sure to help you out in this department. But before you even start the conversation with the recruiter, make sure you're already on the road of physical preparation.

The minimum fitness requirement to join the Marine Corps is different for males and females. They're basic requirements for joining the Marines. It consists of pull ups, sit ups, and a 1.5 mile run. Males must be able to perform at least two pull ups, 44 sit ups in two minutes, and a 1.5 mile run in 13:30 minutes or under.

Females must be able to perform a flexed arm hang for 12 seconds, complete 44 sit ups in two minutes, and run 1.5 miles in 10:30 minutes or less.

While you must be able to complete the minimum to be accepted in the Marine Corps, you'll be doing yourself a huge favor by ensuring you can perform well over the minimum requirements for basic marine training while you're preparing for joining the marines.

Run Far and Run Often

Photo by Bruno Nascimento

One of the many things the Marine Corps has a reputation for is physical fitness and endurance. While you're working to ensure you're strong enough to pass the physical fitness test required for joining the Marines, you'll also want to work on your endurance.

Basic training for a marine last twelve weeks, which can feel like twelve months for many recruits. Those weeks will be full of tough physical demands that require endurance day in and day out. While you won't be running all of the time, you'll be sure to also be marching and rucking to an immense degree.

Running far and running often in the months leading up to basic training will help prepare your body to endure the rigors of boot camp. Gradually lengthen your runs, and consider adding weight slowly (but safely) to simulate a ruck sack on your back.

Sleep Train Your Body

One of the hardest things for any marine corps recruit to adapt to during basic training is the sleep deprivation. Most marines won't get through boot camp with more than four hours of continuous sleep per night.

One of the reasons a marine corps recruit is so sleep-deprived is the drill instructors. Their efforts to prepare a future marine properly for real life through combat training requires depriving the recruit of a lot of things.

In combat, sleep is only a luxury. Marines and other service members must understand and become accustomed to operating efficiently while sleep deprived.

In the months leading up to basic training, use your alarm to wake yourself after every few hours. Don't just hit the on/off button on your alarm. Instead, wake up and stay up for at least thirty minutes, then return to sleep. Better yet, wake up and exercise, then go back to sleep. If you do this while preparing to join, this part of boot camp will be a breeze. And get ready to learn how to survive Marine Corps basic training!

Acclimate to the Environment

Before joining the Marines and being sent off to basic training, get an idea of where you'll be going. If you're a male recruit living west of the Mississippi river, you will likely be training in the dry heat of San Diego, California. Those living east of the river, and all female recruits, will be going to Parris Island, South Carolina where the weather is hot and humid.

If you live in temperate climates, simulate as best you can the conditions under which you'll be spending the next twelve weeks of your life. Your body will thank you for it.

Swim Train

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Every marine must go through swim qualification, which consists of three levels: beginner, intermediate, or advanced. At the minimum water survival basic course, marines are required to remove their gear while in the water in ten seconds or less.

They'll also learn how to abandon ship by jumping into the water from a platform and tread water for four minutes using their gear. Finally they must swim with their gear for twenty five yards.

Water survival is an essential part of being a marine. Know your limits now, get used to being in the water. And, if water is not your thing, consider not joining the Marines, and choose another branch of service instead.

Make a realistic MOS wishlist and stick to it.

Choosing your Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) is the most important decision you'll make once you've decided to join the U.S. Marines. Whether joining as officer or enlisted, make sure your chosen area of specialization is something you'll be interested in doing for the course of your obligation with the Marine Corps.

Think beyond your time in the service to your life as a civilian. If you join the Marines right out of high school and stay until retirement, you'll be ready for a second career by the time you're just 38 years old.

Choosing an MOS that translates well to the civilian sector, such as Military Intelligence or Communications, will give you a leg up when time comes to transition to the private sector.

Sign Up Bonus

Don't short yourself in your aspirations for joining the Marines. Before signing on the dotted line, do your own homework on current sign up bonuses being offered. Sign up bonus availability will be completely dependent on the MOS type, the danger of the job, and the needs of the government.

Research ahead of time on the availability of sign up bonuses, and determine if any of the jobs you're interested in come with a monetary incentive. A recruiter may not volunteer that information on their own, so the more you know, the more you'll gain.

GI Bill

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While signing bonuses come and go based on the needs of the military, one thing you should get guaranteed in writing is your GI Bill. This is a valuable tool to have once your time with the military has come to a close. Depending on the length of your college education plans, the GI Bill will cover all or a good portion of your schooling, provided you maintain a certain GPA.

The GI Bill is an incredible resource, given today's cost for college. If your military occupation doesn't translate well to the civilian sector, the GI Bill gives you a chance to acquire skills that may be more relevant.

A college education and time in the U.S. military will give you a leg up compared to others who have neither on their resume come interview time.

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James Porterson

Former obese teen turned nutritionist. Enjoys writing about staying active and proper nutrition.

See all posts by James Porterson