Marine Corps Promotions
Information for questions regarding promotions for enlisted Marines.
There is one question that any good Marine will ask on a regular basis. "How can I get promoted?" That answer will vary depending on the rank of the Marine. We will keep it simple and stick to the basics of getting promoted. If anyone wants to read a more in-depth description of the promotion system, click here to read the Marine Corps Promotion Manual.
Promotions to Private First Class and Lance Corporal
Marines who have served 6 months active duty as a Private are eligible for promotion to Private First Class (PFC), as long as their service is deemed satisfactory by the Commander. Time spent in boot camp does count towards the required 6 months. The same requirement exists for reservists as well. Marines who have served 8 months active duty as a PFC and 9 months time in service (TIS) are eligible for promotion to Lance Corporal (LCpl), again as long as their service is deemed satisfactory by the Commander. As a reservist, the same requirements apply.
Meritorious Promotions to Private First Class and Lance Corporal
A Commander can meritoriously promote a Marine to PFC if they believe they have shown outstanding leadership and performance. This applies to Reserve commands as well. A similar procedure occurs for meritorious promotion to LCpl. However, a command may hold a meritorious promotion board for LCpl each quarter; which will occur in December, March, June, and September.
Promotions to Corporal and Sergeant
Promotions to Corporal (Cpl) and Sergeant (Sgt) are slightly more complicated. The eligibility for promotions to these ranks is based on a composite score. The components that go into computing this score are:
- Rifle Score-Determined by the Marine's score on the rifle range.
- Physical Fitness Test-Based on the Marine's physical fitness test score.
- Combat Fitness Test-Based on the Marine's combat fitness test score.
- Proficiency Rating-A rating given quarterly by the Marine's supervisor based on the Marine's performance, ranging from 0 to 5.0.
- Conduct Rating-A rating given quarterly by the Marine's supervisor based on the Marine's conduct, ranging from 0 to 5.0.
- Time in Service-The total number of months of service.
- Time in Grade-The total number of months served in their present grade/rank.
- Drill Instructor/Recruiter/Security Bonus Points-Commands can add 100 bonus points for Marine's serving as Drill Instructors, Recruiters, and Marine Security Guards.
- Education-Marine's can receive up to 100 points for military and civilian education.
- Command Recruiting Referrals- E-3's and E-4's can refer individuals to recruiters. If those individuals enlist in the Marine Corps those Marine's will earn 20 bonus points per individual with a maximum of 100 points.
All of these components added together make up the Marine's composite score. Once their composite score is equal to or greater than the quarterly cutting score for that rank, they will be eligible for promotion. However, there is also a time in grade (TIG) and time in service (TIS) component to factor in. To be eligible for a promotion to Corporal, a Lance Corporal must have a minimum of 12 months TIG. This was updated in MARADMINS Number: 055/16. In order to be promoted to Sergeant, Corporals must have 48 months time in service. This was updated in MARADMINS Number: 697/19.
Meritorious Promotions to Corporal and Sergeant
A Commander can meritoriously promote a Marine to Cpl or Sgt if they believe that Marine has shown outstanding leadership and performance. There are quarterly promotion boards held in December, March, June, and September.
Staff Non-Commissioned Officer Promotions
Each fiscal year the Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC) holds selection boards to examine Marines in the rank of Sgt, SSgt, GySgt, MSgt, and 1stSgt. While evaluating the Marine they will take into consideration their performance, leadership, professional and technical knowledge, experience, growth potential, motivation, physical fitness, personal appearance, conduct, moral character, and maturity. Time in grade and time in service will also factor in. Sergeants looking to be promote to Staff Sergeant must have 60 months time in service and 36 months time in grade. The board will also refer to the Marine's Fitness Report (FitRep), which is a review of that Marine's performance during a specific time period. Meritorious promotions for Staff NCO's are slightly more complicated and can be read in depth in MCO 1400.32D,USMC Promotion Manual, starting on page 118.
Written by David Ogden, Sgt. USMC '11-'16.
David was a Sergeant with the United States Marine Corps from 2011-2016. He is a combat veteran. He has worked at Marine Parents as a writer since he left the Marine Corps. He is currently in college and writes for the organization full-time. Click here to read more about the author.