Marine Ranks

Marine Ranks

If you’re not in the military or exposed directly to the military system, Marine ranks can seem confusing and arbitrary. However, rankings are necessary in the Marine Corps to establish a system of order and a promotion avenue just like any other job would have. Let’s talk about ranking for enlisted, warrant officers, and officers in the Marines.


Enlisted Ranking

Enlisted Marines are the majority of the Marine Corps. These Marines make up the bulk of the Marine Corps and without them, missions would never be accomplished. Enlisted Marines have a skillset to ensure their unit can accomplish their mission. They accomplish specific job duties and have the training from the Marine Corps to back them up. Enlisted Marines do not need a college degree. Higher level ranked enlisted members are considered staff non- commissioned officers. First sergeant and sergeant majors assist the commanding officer with duties of the unit. Some Marines only stay in the enlisted ranks in the beginning of their career before going to college and becoming an officer, while others climb up the enlisted ladder their entire career. Either choice is a noble one.

Here are the enlisted ranks from lowest rank to highest rank:

  • Private
  • Private First Class
  • Lance Corporal
  • Corporal
  • Sergeant
  • Staff Sergeant
  • Gunnery Sergeant
  • Master Sergeant
  • First sergeant
  • Master Gunnery Sergeant
  • Sergeant Major
  • Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps

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Warrant Officer Ranking

Beyond the enlisted ranks, you can become either an Officer or a Warrant Officer. A Warrant Officer is trained to command their specific field. A Warrant Officer does not have to be college educated and at the level or Sergeant can be selected to move onto the path of Warrant Officer. Many Marines stay on the enlisted path, while some are promoted to Warrant Officer ranking. Chief Warrant Officers are specialists in the field of their choosing and command those under them in that selected field.

Here are the Warrant Officer ranks from lowest rank to highest rank:

  • Warrant Officer
  • Chief Warrant Officer 2
  • Chief Warrant Officer 3
  • Chief Warrant Officer 4
  • Chief Warrant Officer 5

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Officer Ranking

Officers have to be college graduates. Officers are appointed by the President of the United States and are in charge of leading the Marines. Officers, unlike Warrant Officers, are in charge of the whole rather than a specific sector of the Marine Corps. You can not be a Warrant Officer and a Commissioned Officer at the same time. Officer rankings can be further subdivided into generals, field- grade, and company- grade officers.

Here are the Commissioned Officer ranks from lowest rank to highest rank:

  • Second Lieutenant
  • First Lieutenant
  • Captain
  • Major
  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • Colonel
  • Brigadier General
  • Major General
  • Lieutenant General
  • General



Marine Corps rankings can seem confusing on the surface, but as you can see, they easily break down into three distinct groups. Ranks are used for promotional and categorical reasons, but at the end of the day, a Marine is a Marine.

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