How to Become a Marine Pilot

Three Parts:Reaching a Decision to ServeMeeting Basic Eligibility RequirementsGetting Specialized Training

The United States Marine Corps helps guard the interests of the United States at home and abroad.[1] There are many different jobs a Marine can perform during the time of his enlistment.[2] You may be considering an exciting career as a Marine pilot but may not be sure of how to get into the profession. By seriously considering the career path, meeting requirements, and getting advanced pilot training, you can fulfill your dream of being a Marine pilot.

Part 1
Reaching a Decision to Serve

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    Learn about being a pilot. Before you begin making plans to become a Marine pilot, take some time to learn more about this career path, which is the longest and most extensive in the Marine Corps.[3] Familiarize yourself with the basic requirements, training, and types of duty, all of which can help you figure out if being a pilot is still the right choice for you.
    • A Marine pilot provides assault support and offensive air support, engages in anti-air and electronic warfare, controls aircraft and missiles and conducts aerial reconnaissance.[4]
    • A Marine pilot may get to fly some of the most advanced aircraft in the world.[5]
    • It draws on an incredible body of knowledge. You’ll train on a wide variety of subjects including warfare, how to fly a plane, as well as lead fellow troops.[6]
    • Protecting the United States, your fellow troops, and persons in other countries, along with getting to operate cool machinery can be very rewarding- both personally and professionally.[7]
    • It can be emotionally demanding. You’ll be exposed to a variety of situations, including active warfare and the death of fellow troops, that may cause you stress.[8]
    • It requires superior physical fitness. For example, you may have to fly extended missions or train for long hours. You may even need to survive in a hostile environment if your plane goes down.[9]
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    Determine if piloting is right for you. Once you’ve acquainted yourself with becoming a Marine pilot, actively weigh whether or not this is the right career path for you and your lifestyle. Ask yourself questions such as:
    • Do I meet basic requirements or am I able to attain them in the course of training?[10]
    • Does this fit into my current lifestyle? How would this change my life? Do I want to work on weekends and possibly not have vacations for long periods of time?
    • Can I perform the physical demands? Am I able to stay up for long hours performing physical and mental tasks?
    • Can I handle the emotional demands? Am I willing to be a leader and go into war situations? Am I willing to uphold commands and orders with which I may not agree?
    • Does being a pilot pay enough for my life? Can I support myself and a family?
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    Speak to a local recruiter. If you have any questions or want more information about being a Marine pilot, contact a Corps recruiter. He can give you an idea of what you need to enlist and do to become a pilot. This conversation may help solidify your decision to be a pilot or present you with other options in the Marines.
    • Visit a local recruiting station or schedule an appointment with a recruiter at a local office.
    • Contact a recruiter through the Marine Corps online site at
    • Understand that simply speaking to a recruiter in no way obligates you to join the Marines.[11]
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    Reach your final decision. Take time to seriously consider the pros and cons of pursuing your dream of being a Marine pilot. This may assist you in reaching a final decision if you become a pilot.
    • Write a list of all of the advantages and disadvantages you consider. Seeing them on paper can make it easier to commit to your decision.
    • Discuss your decision with friends and loved ones, but remember that your choice is yours alone.
    • Contact your recruiter and tell him your decision. At this stage, you should also indicate that you would like to pursue a path to become a pilot. He can advise you on how best to do this.

Part 2
Meeting Basic Eligibility Requirements

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    Meet the minimum qualifications. Anyone who wants to join the Marines, as a pilot or otherwise, must meet basic requirements. Check that you meet the following basic qualifications to join the Marine Corps:[12]
    • If you are enlisting, you must be at least 17 years of age.[13]
    • You may not have reached your 29th birthday at enlistment.[14]
    • You must be a citizen or legal resident of the United States and provide proof of it.[15]
    • You must pass a physical examination.[16]
    • Discuss any special circumstances with your recruiter. Not meeting all of the requirements doesn’t necessarily disqualify you.[17]
    • Women may become Marine pilots.[18]
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    Undergo basic training. Once you’ve met the minimum requirements and worked with your Marines recruiter to enlist, you’ll be processed and undergo basic training at Parris Island, South Carolina or San Diego, California. You may also take part in additional schools if you successfully make it through basic training.[19]
    • Boot camp will train you physically and mentally for the demands of being a Marine.[20]
    • Boot camp will also teach you how to use a weapon and about group cohesion and warfare. It will also teach you about the qualities and ideals of being a Marine.[21]
    • If you successfully make it through boot camp, you’ll be advanced to either the School of Infantry (SOI) or Marine Combat Training (MCT) and Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) School.[22]
    • After successfully completing boot camps and specialized training, you are considered a member of the Marine Corps.[23]
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    Become an officer. You must be an officer to be a Marine pilot. You can qualify to be an officer either through obtaining a university degree or by distinguishing yourself as an enlisted soldier.[24] You must also meet the following qualifications to be an officer in the Marine Corps:
    • You must be at least 20 years of age at the time of your commissioning.
    • You must not have reached your 28th birthday at the time of commissioning.
    • You must be a citizen of the United States.
    • You must attend The Basic School (TBS) and Military Occupational Safety (MOS) School.
    • You must also attend either the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC), Platoon Leaders Class (PLC), Office Candidate Course (OCC), or have attended the United States Naval Academy.[25]

Part 3
Getting Specialized Training

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    Possess pilot-specific criteria. Once you’ve passed all of the basic courses, you may qualify to become a pilot. In order to be a pilot, you need to have certain qualifications and meet certain criteria. You must:
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    Discover your aircraft options. Marine pilots specialize in flying specific types of aircraft. You will likely be assigned to a specific type of aircraft, but informing yourself beforehand and speaking to your commanding officer may help put you on the path to what you’d like to pilot.[28] Your options include being:
    • A helicopter pilot, which is also called a rotary or tilt rotor pilot. These pilots fly aircraft in coordination with ground troops and may be ship- or shore-based.[29]
    • A fixed wing pilot, which is also called a plane pilot. These pilots perform vital functions of Marine Corps Aviation including assault support, anti-air warfare, offensive air support, control of aircraft and missiles, and aerial reconnaissance in support of military missions throughout the world.[30]
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    Attend flight training schools. The Marine Corps Aviation training program happens in three phases. You must successfully complete all three phases to qualify as a Naval Flight Officer in the Marines.[31] The three phases of Marine flight training are:
    • Pre-flight training, which is six weeks of basic training in aerodynamics and how turbine engines work. This will help you more successfully pass the next two phases.
    • Primary flight training, which is 22 weeks long and will teach you how to handle the aircraft. Towards the end of this phase, trainers will select you to specialize in one type of aircraft.
    • Advanced training, which is 27-44 weeks and will train you on your specific aircraft at your assigned duty station. You’ll spend time in the actual aircraft as well as in a simulator.[32]
    • You are considered a Naval Flight Officer in the Marines once you’ve successfully completed all three phases.[33]
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    Continue your education and training. Because of the demands on Marine aviators as well as consistently updated aircraft technology, you’ll need to continue your education and maintain your physical fitness. This can help you perform your job as a pilot optimally and may make it more fun and adventurous.
    • Stay abreast of new technologies, combat and/ or flight techniques by taking part in courses, reading publications, and speaking to other pilots.
    • Maintain your physical fitness through regular exercise and healthy diet.
    • Get regular medical checkups to ensure you are fit enough to fly an aircraft.

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Categories: Careers in the Military