Marine Corps Ranks


Whether as an Enlisted Marine or Marine Officer, your rank will determine many of the responsibilities you will be expected to successfully carry out. But Marines of every rank can expect to train together and rely on one another in the collective fight for our Nation. Learn more about the ranks of our Corps and the leadership hierarchy.


Every Marine, from the very beginning of their time in the Corps, holds a rank with an associated pay grade and set of responsibilities and education requirements. Making up a force that is always on the advance, Marines are expected to do all that is necessary to rise in rank with time and experience.


Enlisted Marines are often referred to as the backbone of the Corps and carry various responsibilities that align with their MOS and rank.

Junior Enlisted Marines: Private, Private First Class & Lance Corporal

These Marines are new to the Corps and are focused on developing and growing as an individual while honing their skills and core values.

Noncommissioned Officers (NCOs): Corporal & Sergeant

Marine NCOs have faced a number of physical and mental challenges and are considered experienced Marines. Beginning at the rank of Sergeant, Marine NCOs can seek the opportunity to serve as Drill Instructors in charge of a recruit training platoon.


Staff Noncommissioned Officers (Staff NCOs):

Marine Staff NCOs are highly experienced Marines who work in tandem with NCOs, responsible for the welfare, morale, discipline, and efficiency of Marines in their charge.

STAFF SERGEANT – responsible for the proficiency, training and administration of Marines in their charge.

GUNNERY SERGEANT – serves as their unit’s operations chief, working with superior officers on training, operations, and tactical advising.

MASTER SERGEANT – provides technical leadership as specialists in their specific MOS.

FIRST SERGEANT – serves as the senior enlisted Marine in the company, assisting in their unit’s discipline, administration, morale, and Marine welfare matters.

MASTER GUNNERY SERGEANT – provides technical leadership as specialists in their specific MOS.

SERGEANT MAJOR – serves as the principal enlisted advisor for a senior Marine commander, making high level strategic decisions that impact the entire Marine Corps.

SERGEANT MAJOR OF THE MARINE CORPS – the senior enlisted Marine of the entire Corps, personally selected by the commandant.

Warrant Officer Ranks

Warrant officer Marines are officer-level technical specialists in their respective fields, providing leadership, training, and extensive knowledge to the Marines in their MOS. To advance to this rank, the secretary of the Navy approves a warrant for a sergeant or staff NCO to be appointed a warrant officer. These Marines become commissioned officers when achieving the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 2.


Marine Officers hold a college degree and have earned a commission that carries the "special trust and confidence" of the President of the United States. These educated and decorated Marines hold the responsibility of being outstanding leaders to Marines in their charge.


SECOND LIEUTENANT – leads at the platoon or company level and looks to their senior officers for guidance and intent.

FIRST LIEUTENANT – leads in a similar way as second lieutenant but with increased responsibility immediately upon promotion.

CAPTAIN – responsible for leading entire companies of Marines, serving as company commander, leading tactical operations with the support of junior commissioned officers and senior enlisted noncommissioned officers.

MAJOR – typically serves in roles including battalion executive officer, weapons company commanders, or regimental or brigade staff members.

LIEUTENANT COLONEL – a key decision-maker; may serve as a battalion commander.

COLONEL – serves as a regimental commander, brigade executive officer, or division staff member.

BRIGADIER GENERAL – A one-star general, a Brigadier General is nominated by the President and must also be confirmed for duty by the Senate.

MAJOR GENERAL – A two-star general, a Major General is nominated by the President and must also be confirmed for duty by the Senate.

LIEUTENANT GENERAL – A three-star general, a Lieutenant General is nominated by the President and must also be confirmed for duty by the Senate.

GENERAL – A four-star general, the most senior officer rank, a General is nominated by the President and must also be confirmed for duty by the Senate.

ASSISTANT COMMANDANT OF THE MARINE CORPS – the second-highest ranking Marine Officer, and also a four-star general, serves as deputy for the Commandant.

COMMANDANT OF THE MARINE CORPS – the highest-ranking Marine Officer, also a four-star general, serves on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.


After a Marine has completed their initial training and has become proficient in their MOS, the opportunities for self-improvement and advancement continue on pace with that Marine's desire to succeed. Additionally, there are numerous special training schools, advanced educational opportunities, and Specialty Duty Assignments available to Marines who prove they are up to the task.


For enlisted Marines, promotion beyond the rank of lance corporal is primarily based upon time in service, time in grade (rank) and level of performance. Enlisted promotions are competitive and are based on specific vacancies that occur within MOSs. Each year, Congress states, by law, what percentage of Marines can serve in each grade above Corporal. The Marine Corps takes the number of available openings it has for each enlisted rank and then assigns them to different MOSs. Because there are a finite number of positions within each MOS, promotion to the ranks of Corporal and above require an intense devotion to the duties of that MOS.


Gain direct access to a Marine Recruiter who has fought alongside Marines and is prepared to show you how to become one.


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