Joining the U.S. Marine Corps is a big decision, so you must weigh both the pros and cons of doing so. On the pro side, officers and enlisted men get the opportunity to learn new things, meet new people, see the world, and serve their country. On the con side, Marines serving in war zones are often in danger and may meet an untimely death. Marines also get excellent benefit packages, but sometimes find it difficult to access them because of the red tape associated with working for the government.

Pro: Education and Training

One pro of being in the Marine Corps is the training available. Enlisted personnel are given technical training that's either expensive or unavailable in civilian life; what's more, this training is free. Marine Corps recruits can learn how to be electricians, construction workers, or computer technicians in the course of their tour of duty.

Officers can have the Marine Corps partially fund their studies through ROTC or the Platoon Leaders' Course if they go to a participating university. Alternatively, they can attend the competitive-entry U.S. Naval Academy, which is fully funded, and they can study at the post-graduate level, again funded by the Marine Corps.

Pro: Retirement and Healthcare

The Marine Corps has a very generous retirement plan that pays its retirees a 50% lifetime, adjusted-for-inflation pension after 20 years. This means that Marines can potentially retire as early as age 37, and it's fairly common for "retirees" to be in their 40s.

While on active duty, Marines can take advantage of Corps-provided medical and dental care, and they receive subsidized healthcare upon retirement.

Pro: Experience and Travel

The Marine Corps provides its enlisted men and officers the opportunity to travel. There are Marine bases around the world, in places like Japan, Korea, Germany and Hawaii.

In addition to this, the Marine Corps provides a unique life experience that will make ex-Marines' resumes stand out. This is particularly applicable to officers, who run teams of 20-40 people in their early 20s, an opportunity that's not usually afforded people of this age group in the private sector.

Pro: Serving Your Country

A final pro is the intangible idea of serving your country. This is why many Marines join--to defend the U.S. and protect the freedoms we hold so dear.

Con: Death or Injury

A major con for everyone in the Marine Corps is the fact that they're placed in harm's way on a regular basis. The odds of dying while young are high for Marines, particularly the lieutenants and privates who join in their late teens and early 20s.

Marines can escape death but be seriously injured, too. This can happen whether you're deployed in a warzone or not--even training exercises, when carried out with weaponry and explosives, can end in disaster.

Con: Unpleasant Locations

As of 2010, the U.S. is involved in two wars, in Iraq, a desert, and Afghanistan, a landlocked country featuring a harsh continental climate. Marines can expect to find themselves in places like this, which can be dreary, lonely, and generally unpleasant.

Con: Bureaucracy

The Marine Corps is a government entity, which means it comes with a great deal of bureaucracy. Red tape, waiting in line, and significant paperwork are common when dealing with the Marine Corps, and some Marines find this frustrating.