Pros and Cons of Joining the Marine Corps

The Marines have a long and storied history.

Joining the military is an option for high-school graduates and young men and women who want a career change or opportunity to serve their country. Each branch of the military offers benefits such as money for college and specialized skills training, and each branch also carries certain risks. Candidates for the U.S. Marines should obtain additional information specific to the branch.

1 Pride and Tradition

According to, members of the Marine Corps often join because it offers a positive sense of national pride or family tradition. The Marine Corps traces its history to 1775, making it older than the United States itself. The Marine insignia, "semper fidelis" (always faithful) motto and football team all project the branch's image and make membership in the Marines an exclusive right. Many American families have a long tradition of Marine Corps service through multiple generations, which can make joining into a fulfillment of family duty for some recruits. Following discharge from the service, Marines engage in civic activities and social networking with other Marines across the country and abroad.

2 Versatility

The Marine Corps offers a wide range of service opportunities, more so than other branches of the military. Individual Marines perform duties ranging from ground combat to highly technical and administrative duties. The branch also operates ships, helicopters, planes and ground transport, which means that members can pursue their interests or find duties that match their skills within the Marine Corps.

Benefits that Marines receive include medical care and a pension plan. After leaving the service, Marines can get treatment for health issues through the Department of Veterans Affairs. They're also eligible for college tuition allowances and support services, including career placement and psychological counseling.

3 Combat Risks

All branches of the military carry the very real drawback of the risk of physical and psychological harm during combat. This is especially true for Marines, who are the first responders and among the first American soldiers on the battlefield in an emergency situation. During wartime, a Marine recruit's chances of serving in combat are high. Marines routinely fight in the most dangerous and complicated scenarios. Death, injury and lasting psychological trauma are all risks that a Marine takes.

4 Rigorous Training

The process of becoming a marine is in itself a drawback and a barrier to membership for some potential recruits. Marines go through 12 weeks of rigorous basic training, which includes physical and emotional endurance tests. The process is intended to eliminate recruits who won't be able to serve in combat, so stress levels and physical discomfort increase in intensity as a recruit advances through each phase of training. At the end of basic training, Marine recruits must participate in the Crucible, which is a 54-hour field exercise that tests teamwork abilities and a recruit's ability to function in harsh conditions.