Marine Corps Enlistment Requirements | The Hard Truth

Marine Corps Enlistment Requirements - What standards need to be met.

In This Article

(updated on August 3, 2022)

There are multiple factors taken into consideration, and some of them can be ‘waivered’ meaning your recruiter can ask the Marine Corps to accept you anyway.

Becoming a United States Marine means meeting high standards of moral, mental, and physical strength. You must pass an aptitude test, pass the Initial Strength Test, and meet the Marine Corps Enlistment Requirements. Then, you must also pass thirteen weeks of intense training in order to earn the title United States Marine.

The basic Marine Corps enlistment requirements are:

  • U.S. citizen or have your “green card”.
  • Be physically and mentally fit.
  • Be between the ages of 17-29. If you’re 17, you’ll need a parent consent form.
  • High school diploma
  • Take and pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test.
  • Pass a medical exam at a Military Entrance Processing Station.
  • There are other factors considered, including criminal history and tattoos.

Sometimes waivers are given for recruits not meeting just one or two standards — but these are rare. It’s best to ensure you are able to pass all the Marine Corps enlistment requirements if you want to become a US Marine.

Age Requirements

The Marine Corps enlistment requirements state that recruits are to be at least 17 years of age (with parents permission) before enlisting. The maximum age of enlistment is 35.

Prior service veterans may subtract their years of service from the maximum age of enlistment to see if they qualify. For example, if you are 38 years old and you served 10 years in the Air Force, your effective enlistment age is 28. But you’ll still have to go through recruit training.

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Marine Corps Enlistment Requirements | Height and Weight Standards

All Marines are required to maintain their height/weight within certain standards, and recruits must be within the range to begin training.

Many recruits lose a lot of weight or put on muscle to attend recruit training. There are different standards for male and female Marines. These are the updated 2017 standards.

Male Marine Height and Weight Standards

Male Marines must be a minimum of 4’8″ tall (56″). At that height they must weight between 85 and 122 lbs.

The maximum height listed is 6’10” (86″). Marines this tall must weight between 182 and 263 lbs.

Female Marine Height and Weight Standards

Female Marines must also be a minimum of 4’8″ tall (56″). At that height they must weight between 85 and 115 lbs.

The maximum height for women is 6’10” and they must weight between 182 and 248 lbs.

Physical Fitness Requirements

Marine Corps recruits are required to meet the standards of the Initial Strength Test in order to ship to recruit training.

The test includes pull-ups (or a flexed arm hang for women), max crunches in 2 minutes, and a 1.5 mile run.

For male Marines, they must do at least 2 pull ups, 35 crunches, and run 1.5 miles in 13:30. Female Marines have 15 minutes for the run and the option to do a flexed-arm hang (holding their chin over the pull-up bar) for 12 seconds.

Since 2016, Marines enlisting the combat arms MOS’s like the infantry have been required to meet slightly higher standards.

Infantry MOS’s need to do at least 3 pull-ups, 44 crunches, run the 1.5 miles in 13:30 or less, and also lift a 35 lb ammo can from shoulder height to overhead 45 times in 2 minutes.

Keep in mind that these are minimum requirements, and it’s a good idea to exceed them before you ship to training.

Marine Corps ASVAB Requirements

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is a short test to determine basic intelligence strengths and weaknesses for enlistees in the US Military.

Every branch of service takes the same test.

For the Marine Corps, you’ll need a minimum score of 32 out of 99 if you have a high school diploma. If you have earned your GED instead, you’ll need a score of 50 out of 99.

Marine Corps Enlistment Requirements: Tattoo Policy

Marine Corps enlistment requirements follow the tattoo policy for active-duty Marines.

The tattoo policy has changed a lot over the years, from being very liberal to strict, to more liberal again. The latest policy was enacted in 2022. 

Marines are only prohibited from tattoos on their face, head, neck, and hands. However, there is one exception, and that is a ring tattoo on one finger.

Chest and back tattoos must remain below the collarbone and seventh cervical vertebrae and must be fully covered by a “properly fitting crewneck T-shirt with no portion of the tattoo showing,” according to the new policy.

Content of the tattoo also matters as the Marine Corps has banned tattoos that are drug-related, gang-related, extremist, obscene or indecent, sexist, or racist. 

The policy also bans tattoos related to terrorism, specifically those that “advocate, engage in, or support terrorism; advocate, engage in, or support the forceful, violent, unconstitutional, or otherwise unlawful overthrow of the government of the United States, any state, commonwealth, district, or territory of the United States; or advocates, engages in, or encourages military personnel or DoD or US Coast Guard civilian employees to violate laws or disobey lawful orders or regulation for the purpose of disrupting military activities.”

It’s important to tell your recruiter what tattoos you have if you want to become a Marine.

Marine Corps Citizenship Requirements

Can non-US citizens join the military? Absolutely.

Foreign nationals must meet all the other standards for enlistment, including being between the ages of 17 and 35.

Additionally, applicants must be legally residing in the United States and have a Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services Alien Registration Card (INS Form I-151/551 – also known as a “Green Card”).

The Marine Corps cannot assist foreign citizens in obtaining their green card, they must have completed the process prior to enlisting in the military.

After having served at least one year, foreign citizens may be eligible to become US citizens.

Marine Corps Enlistment Requirements: Past Drug Use

The Marine Corps is drug-free and regularly tests Marines. You will have to pass a drug screen at your local enlistment processing station before going to boot camp, and immediately upon reaching recruit receiving.

Past drug use is not necessarily going to disqualify you from enlisting in the Marine Corps.

Experimental use of marijuana, for example, might be waivered by your recruiter if you have only used it once or twice.

Regular use of cocaine, on the other hand, is a full disqualification.

If you have a criminal background, such as a drug arrest, you’ll need to be honest about it. This will come up in a background check. However, if you’ve done a bit of responsible partying in your past, it’s generally not a big deal.

Marine Corps Enlistment Requirements: Criminal History

Marine Corps enlistment requirements state that if you have been convicted of a felony, you are ineligible to serve in the United States Marine Corps.

Full stop.

If you have a misdemeanor conviction, it can often be waivered. However, multiple misdemeanors are usually a disqualification.

The Marine Corps will conduct a full background investigation on you, so be honest if you have any arrests or convictions. Any arrests that have been expunged from the record are not reported in the background check.

Marine Corps Enlistment Requirements: Medical History

The Marine Corps is very strict on medical history, and with good reason. Many medical issues are permanently disqualifying, and some are eligible for waivers.

If you have had a medical complication at any time in your life that’s listed here, it’s best to tell your recruiter.

If you don’t get an official waiver and it’s discovered you had a preexisting condition, you can be dishonorably discharged for fraudulent enlistment.

Some disqualifying medical conditions are:

  • Congenital abnormalities of the stomach, duodenum, or gastrointestinal system that resulted in surgery
  • Pancreatitis
  • Ulcers of the stomach or gastrointestinal system
  • Abdominal hernia (or an operation on them within the preceding 60 days)
  • Gastrointestinal bypass or stomach stapling
  • Diabetes
  • Gout
  • Acromegaly
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Anemia
  • Immunodeficiency
  • Leprosy
  • Limitations of joint mobility (past a certain extent)
  • Hearing loss of more than 35dB
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Acute or chronic arthritis
  • Joint replacements
  • Uncorrectable vision problems
  • Genitalia problems such as endometriosis, persistent ovarian cysts; for men, chronic epididymis, undescended testicles, and prostatitis
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Cardiomyopathy or congestive heart failure
  • Any congenital heart defects that affect regular function
  • Peripheral vascular disease including Raynaud’s phenomenon
  • Epilepsy
  • Psychological disorders and behavior disorders

This is just a partial list! There are many medical conditions that may disqualify you from military service, so check with your recruiter if you have any issues that require regular treatment.

In many cases, recruits may be given a medical waiver.

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