United States Marine Corps rank insignia

United States Marine Corps rank insignia

Marine ranks in descending order, with tables indicating abbreviations in the style used by the Marine Corps, pay grades, and rank insignia:

Commissioned Officers

Commissioned Officers are distinguished from other officers by their "commission", which is the formal written authority, issued in the name of the President of the United States, that confers the rank and authority of a Marine Officer. Commissioned officers carry the "special trust and confidence" of the President of the United States.cite book
last = Estes
first = Kenneth W.
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = The Marine Officer's Guide, 6th Edition
publisher = Naval Institute Press
date = 2000
location =
url =
doi =
id = ISBN 1-55750-567-5
] Commissioned officer ranks are further subdivided into Generals, field-grade officers, and company-grade officers.


Enlisted Marines with paygrades of E-4 and E-5 are considered non-commissioned officers (NCOs) while those at E-6 and higher are considered Staff Non-Commissioned Officers (SNCOs). The E-8 and E-9 levels each have two ranks per pay grade, each with different responsibilities. Gunnery Sergeants (E-7) indicate on their annual evaluations, called "fitness reports", or "fitreps" for short, their preferred promotional track: Master Sergeant or First Sergeant. The First Sergeant and Sergeant Major ranks are command-oriented, with Marines of these ranks serving as the senior enlisted Marines in a unit, charged to assist the commanding officer in matter of discipline, administration and the morale and welfare of the unit. Master Sergeants and Master Gunnery Sergeants provide technical leadership as occupational specialists in their specific MOS. First Sergeants typically serve as the senior enlisted Marine in a company, battery or other unit at similar echelon, while Sergeants Major serve the same role in battalions, squadrons or larger units.

The Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps is a billet, not a rank, conferred on the senior enlisted Marine of the entire Marine Corps, personally selected by the Commandant of the Marine Corps. It and the Marine Gunner are the only billets which rate modified rank insignia in place of the traditional rank insignia.

Forms of address

Marines address all enlisted personnel by rank, and all Commissioned officers with "sir" or "ma'am". Warrant Officers, regardless of rank, are addressed just as commissioned officers, but may also be addressed as "Warrant Officer", or "Gunner", although the latter is improper unless the Warrant Officer holds the Military Occupational Specialty of Infantry Weapons Officer (MOS 0306). During recruit training, recruits are indoctrinated to address all superiors as "sir" or "ma'am".

The most junior ranks between pay grades E-1 and E-3 (Privates, Privates First Class, and Lance Corporals) are also referred to by proper rank and/or last name only, though the latter is informal.

During recruit training, recruits are not considered full-fledged Marines; as a result, all Marines who have completed recruit training are addressed as "sir" or "ma'am" by incoming recruits who are beginning recruit training. Also, incoming recruits must also refer to themselves in the third person (i.e. "this recruit"), and their rank is replaced with the word "Recruit". This usually lasts until the last week of recruit training when in most instances, recruits are then considered-full fledged Marines. Likewise, during officer training, officer candidates are not yet commissioned Marine officers, and must refer to themselves as "this candidate" or "the candidate", even though some officer candidates have evolved to officer training from the enlisted ranks where they hold enlisted ranks. During the period of Officer Candidate School, each candidate is referred to as "candidate", and not "Marine".

Informally, some enlisted ranks have commonly used nicknames, though they are not official and may be improper for use in formal situations. The acceptability of nickname use by juniors is at the discretion of the individual rank holder. A Gunnery Sergeant is typically called "Gunny" and occasionally "Guns", a Master Sergeant is commonly called "Top", a First Sergeant is sometimes referred to as "The First Shirt", and a Master Gunnery Sergeant is "Master Gunny" or "Master Guns". Differing from the US Army and Air Force, all ranks containing "Sergeant" are always addressed by their full rank and never shortened to simply "Sergeant" or "Sarge". A Private First Class is usually referred to as a PFC, instead of simply "private" as the Army does. The rank of Lance Corporal has some pejorative nicknames: "Lance Coolie" and "Lance Criminal." Senior Officers may informally address junior officers by first name. This typically only happens teacher/student or mentor/apprentice. Marines of the same rank may also address each other by first name when among peers only and never in the presence of junior or senior Marines.

Finally, Marines generally consider it an insult to be called a "soldier" (as soldiers are in the Army); the proper term is always "Marine." When writing journalism or scholarly references to the Marine Corps, its elements, and/or individual Marines, the correct attributions might include, "soldiers or sailors and Marines", "members of the U.S. armed forces", or even simply "troops", which is an acceptable collective reference.

ee also

* United States Marine Corps officer rank insignia
* United States Marine Corps enlisted rank insignia
* Comparative military ranks
* British and United States military ranks compared
* Ranks and insignia of NATO Armies Officers
* List of U.S. Marine Corps acronyms and expressions for more nicknames and forms of address


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