The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) is one of the seven armed uniformed military branches of the United States. Becoming a Marine takes dedication, hard work and intense training. For enlistment purposes, the Marines divide educational qualifications into three overall categories: Tier 1 (those who have earned a high school diploma), Tier 2 (those who have earned a GED certificate) and Tier 3 (no education credentials). As the smallest branch of the armed services assigned to the Department of Defense, the Marines strictly limit the number of Tier 2 applicants accepted to 5 percent. Statistically this category of recruits fails to complete their first term of service at about twice the rate of those with a high school diploma. Following is a review of steps that are necessary to successfully compete for acceptance into the USMC with a GED.

Preliminary Qualifications

Meet the necessary age requirements. The minimum age for enlistment in the U.S. Marine Corps is 17 (with parental consent). The maximum age is 29 for non-prior service enlistment.

Establish United States citizenship. In order to become a Marine, one must either be a United States citizen or legally living in the country with a valid "green card." The visa must last for the duration of the proposed term of service.

Do you have any dependents? In general, the Marines prohibit the enlistment of anyone with a dependent under the age of 18. While allowed to waive this requirement, they usually do not. Single parents are also not eligible for enlistment.

Establish your financial eligibility. The Marines will not accept anyone with a history of writing bad checks, repossessions, suspended or canceled credit accounts or general debts that exceed half the annual salary of their incoming pay grade.

Stop using illegal drugs and restrict alcohol intake. Applicants are carefully screened for drugs and alcohol. Any legal, general health or mental health issues implying dependence on either drugs or alcohol will disqualify an applicant from entry. History of drug use itself is also potentially disqualifying.

Evaluate your criminal background history. The Marines divide criminal offenses into several categories that are accepted with waivers. However, applicants with 10 or more minor traffic offenses, six or more serious traffic offenses, 10 or more minor misdemeanor offenses, six or more serious misdemeanor offenses, or more than one felony are not eligible. Applicants may no longer enlist as an alternative to criminal prosecution or punishment.

Get in shape to ensure you meet the height and weight requirements. Male Marine applicants must be between 58 and 78 inches tall with 18 percent body fat while female applicants must be between 58 and 72 inches tall with 26 percent body fat.

Go back to school. Fifteen or more college credits with a GED will place an applicant into the same enlistment classification as a high school diploma holder.

Score high on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), a timed aptitude test over four critical areas: Arithmetic Reasoning, Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension and Mathematics Knowledge. This score is a critical component of your Armed Forces Qualifying Test (AFQT) score that determines your entrance eligibility. Generally, without a high school diploma, a GED holder must score significantly higher on the ASVAB, than a high school diploma recruit. In addition, a high score will improve your chances of getting the occupational specialty you want and a higher signing bonus.

Tip

  • Visit your local recruiter to ask for advice. They serve as great advocates if they believe you will be an asset to the corps. Talk with prior servicemen and learn from their personal experiences. Remember that the Marines are a small, elite force. Enlistment standards are higher than for the Army and basic training is longer. Joining the Marines is a four-year commitment away from family and friends.