Joining the Marine Corps Reserve

Marine Corps Reserve Centennial ceremony
Lt. Gen. Rex C. McMillian, commander of Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces North, greets New York Police Department officers attending the Marine Corps Reserve Centennial ceremony in Times Square, Aug. 29, 2016. (Lance Cpl. Ricardo Davila/U.S. Marines)

The United States Marine Corps Reserve consists of highly trained individuals that can be mobilized for active duty in time of war, national emergency or contingency operations.Over the past eight decades, Reserve Marines regularly have operated alongside the active component in two World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Shield/Storm and Enduring and Iraqi Freedom.

What Does It Take to Be a U.S. Marine?

If you are interested in enlisting in the Marine Corps Reserve, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or a resident alien.
  • Meet exacting physical, mental and moral standards.
  • Be between the ages of 17-29. Seventeen-year-olds need parental consent. Prior service age limits differ.
  • Have a high school diploma.
  • Take and pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test. For tips on doing well on the ASVAB, see the Ace the ASVAB section.
  • Pass a Military Entrance Processing Station medical exam.
  • Women are eligible to enlist in all occupational fields.

What is the Marine Corps Reserve experience?

The Marine Corps Reserve offers four drill status options. These options let you decide on the amount of time spent in the active Reserves and in the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR).

Drills -- A drill consists of two days of training per month. Your pay will be adjusted automatically for cost-of-living increases. You'll get pay increases for every two years of accumulated service and may earn special duty pay. To calculate your drill pay, visit the Drill Pay Charts.

Annual training -- Annual training in the Marine Corps Reserve is held for two weeks per year. Depending on the unit and your specialty, you could be stationed at a shore location, with an aviation squadron or aboard ship.

The G.I. Bill -- Depending on your eligibility, the GI Bill allows you to attend school full time while serving in the Reserve and get full tuition and stipends, in addition to your Reserve paycheck and any other Reserve educational benefits you may be eligible to receive. For more on the GI Bill for Reservists, go to the GI Bill resource section.

Credits for experience -- Members of the Reserve can take advantage of free College Level Examination Program tests (CLEP). For every test you pass on a particular subject, you earn three transferable college credits.

You can pursue college and university independent study courses through the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Educational Support (DANTES) as a member of the Reserve. The program is comprised of nearly 2,000 colleges and universities nationwide, which help service members transfer credits from school to school and get college credits for military training and experience.

Travel -- As a member of the Marine Corps Reserve, you will have the opportunity to travel on duty and off. You also qualify for military space-available travel within and between the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and Puerto Rico. For more on military travel options and benefits, see the Travel Center.

Life insurance, medical care -- The Marine Corps Reserve provides comprehensive medical care while on duty. You also qualify for low-cost life insurance. For more on these and other benefits, visit the Benefits section.

VA Home Loan Program -- Members of the Marine Corps Reserve with at least six years of service are eligible to apply for the Department of Veterans Affairs Home Loan Guaranty program. For more on this program, go to the Money section.

Base privileges -- As a member, you can access all recreational facilities on military bases such as gyms, tennis courts and libraries. You and your family can enjoy unlimited access shopping at any Military Exchange nationwide. Marine Corps Reserve members and their families are entitled to use base commissaries.

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