Steps to Become a USMC Drill Instructor: From Enlistment to Training

Becoming a United States Marine Corps (USMC) drill instructor is a challenging and prestigious career path that requires dedication, discipline, and a strong commitment to the Corps. Only the most elite Marines are selected to serve as drill instructors, and the training to become one is rigorous and demanding.

The first step on the path to becoming a USMC drill instructor is enlisting in the Marine Corps. Prospective recruits must meet the necessary requirements and complete the enlistment process, including the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test. Once enlisted, recruits undergo basic training, also known as boot camp, where they are introduced to the fundamentals of military discipline, physical fitness, and combat skills.

After completing basic training, Marines who aspire to become drill instructors must demonstrate exceptional leadership skills and a deep understanding of Marine Corps values and traditions. They must consistently exhibit a high level of professionalism and an unwavering commitment to the Corps. Promotions and assignments to positions of leadership within their units are key indicators of their potential to become drill instructors.

Once selected for drill instructor duty, Marines undergo additional specialized training at the Drill Instructor School (DIS) in Parris Island, South Carolina, or San Diego, California. This intense training program prepares them to effectively train and mentor recruits, instilling the necessary skills, knowledge, and values required to become successful Marines. The training includes physical fitness, drill instruction techniques, leadership development, and the ability to effectively communicate and motivate recruits.

Becoming a USMC drill instructor is an arduous journey that requires unwavering dedication, commitment to the Marine Corps values, and the ability to inspire and lead others. It is a role that carries great responsibility, as drill instructors shape and mold the next generation of Marines. However, for those who have what it takes, the reward of producing disciplined, motivated, and successful Marines is unparalleled.

Enlisting in the USMC

Enlisting in the United States Marine Corps (USMC) is the first step towards becoming a USMC Drill Instructor. The process of enlisting in the USMC involves several steps and requirements that individuals must meet. Here is an overview of the enlisting process:

1. Research

1. Research

Before enlisting, it is important to do thorough research about the USMC. Understand the roles and responsibilities of a USMC Drill Instructor and consider if it aligns with your career goals and personal interests.

2. Contact a Recruiter

Reach out to a USMC recruiter who can provide you with detailed information about the enlistment process. The recruiter will guide you and answer any questions you may have. They will also provide you with the necessary paperwork and help you complete the application.

3. Meet Eligibility Requirements

Ensure that you meet the eligibility requirements for enlisting in the USMC. These requirements include being a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, being at least 17 years old (with parental consent) or 18 years old, having a high school diploma or GED equivalent, and passing a physical fitness test.

4. ASVAB Test

Take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test. The ASVAB test is used to assess an individual’s abilities and aptitudes in various areas and determine their suitability for different military occupations. A minimum score is required to qualify for enlistment.

5. Medical Examination

Undergo a medical examination to ensure you are physically fit for military service. This examination includes a review of medical history, physical measurements, vision test, and drug and alcohol screening.

6. Choose a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS)

After passing the ASVAB test, you will meet with a career counselor to select a military occupational specialty (MOS). Research different MOS options and choose the one that aligns with your interests and skills.

7. Take the Oath of Enlistment

Once you have completed all the necessary steps, you will take the Oath of Enlistment. This is a solemn commitment to serve in the USMC and follow its code of conduct.

Enlisting in the USMC is a significant decision that requires careful consideration and preparation. By following the steps outlined above, you can begin your journey towards becoming a USMC Drill Instructor.

Completing Basic Training

1. Enlist in the Marine Corps

In order to become a USMC Drill Instructor, the first step is to enlist in the Marine Corps. This requires meeting the eligibility requirements, such as being a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, passing a physical fitness test, and having a high school diploma or equivalent. The recruitment process involves meeting with a recruiter, taking the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test, and completing all necessary paperwork.

2. Attend Basic Training

Once enlisted, new recruits will attend Basic Training, also known as boot camp, at either Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina or Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego in California. Basic Training is a 13-week program that focuses on physical fitness, combat skills, and discipline. Recruits endure rigorous physical training, learn military tactics and procedures, and develop a strong foundation of discipline and teamwork.

3. Complete Infantry Training

After successfully completing Basic Training, recruits will then move on to complete Infantry Training at the School of Infantry (SOI) at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. This training specifically focuses on combat tactics, marksmanship, land navigation, and other essential skills for Marines in combat roles.

4. Achieve the Rank of Sergeant

In order to become a Drill Instructor, individuals must first achieve the rank of Sergeant (E-5). This can typically be accomplished within the first few years of service, depending on individual performance and promotions.

5. Attend the Drill Instructor School

Once promoted to Sergeant, Marines can apply to attend the Drill Instructor School at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. This school is an intensive 11-week program that trains Marines to become Drill Instructors. The curriculum includes both classroom instruction and hands-on training in drill and ceremony, physical fitness, leadership, and mentorship.

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6. Serve as a Drill Instructor Candidate

After successfully completing Drill Instructor School, Marines will be assigned as Drill Instructor Candidates (DI-C). During this period, they will work alongside experienced Drill Instructors, honing their skills and gaining practical experience in training recruits. This phase typically lasts for several months and involves working long hours and maintaining high standards of discipline and professionalism.

7. Earn the Title of Drill Instructor

7. Earn the Title of Drill Instructor

Once they have successfully completed the training period as a Drill Instructor Candidate, Marines will earn the title of Drill Instructor and be responsible for training and mentoring new recruits. They will lead training platoons, conduct drill and physical fitness sessions, teach classes on various topics, and instill discipline and values in the recruits under their supervision.

Becoming a USMC Drill Instructor is a demanding and rewarding process that requires dedication, hard work, and a commitment to shaping the next generation of Marines.

Choosing a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS)

Choosing a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS)

Choosing a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) in the United States Marine Corps (USMC) is an important decision that will determine the specific job you will have within the Corps. With over 180 MOS options to choose from, it’s essential to carefully consider your strengths, interests, and career goals before making a decision.

Evaluating Your Skills and Interests

Before choosing an MOS, it’s important to evaluate your skills and interests to determine which roles may be the best fit for you. Consider your strengths in areas such as physical fitness, leadership, technical skills, communication, problem-solving, and teamwork. Identify areas that you excel in and enjoy, as these can provide a good starting point for selecting an MOS.

Additionally, think about what you are passionate about. Do you have a particular interest in aviation, logistics, combat operations, intelligence, or any other specific field? Identifying your interests can help narrow down the options and guide you towards MOSs that align with your passions.

Researching MOS Options

Once you have evaluated your skills and interests, it’s time to research the different MOS options available in the USMC. The Marine Corps’ official website provides detailed information about each MOS, including the responsibilities, required training, promotion opportunities, and potential career paths.

Make a list of MOSs that align with your skills and interests, and dive deeper into each one. Look for testimonials from Marines who currently hold those MOSs to gain insights into the daily tasks, challenges, and rewards associated with each role.

Consulting with a Career Counselor

When you have narrowed down your choices, it can be helpful to consult with a career counselor. These professionals have expertise in guiding individuals towards suitable MOSs based on their skills, interests, and overall career goals. They can provide valuable advice and potentially offer additional information that can help you make an informed decision.

During your consultation, be sure to ask any questions you have and discuss any concerns you may be experiencing. The career counselor can address your inquiries and provide further clarification on aspects of different MOSs that are important to you.

Consider Long-Term Goals

While choosing an MOS, it’s essential to consider your long-term goals. Think about the skills and experiences that can be beneficial not only during your time in the Marine Corps but also in your future civilian career. Consider how the skills acquired in a specific MOS can translate into the civilian job market, and choose an MOS that aligns with your desired career path.

Finalizing Your Decision

Once you have considered your skills, interests, researched different MOS options, consulted with a career counselor, and considered your long-term goals, it’s time to finalize your decision. Select the MOS that best fits your unique combination of strengths, interests, and career aspirations.

It’s important to note that choosing an MOS is not a final decision, and there may be opportunities to switch MOSs later on in your military career. However, it’s still important to approach the selection process with careful consideration and make the best choice possible for your initial MOS.

Attending Drill Instructor School

In order to become a USMC drill instructor, individuals must attend Drill Instructor School. This rigorous training program is designed to prepare them for the responsibilities and challenges they will face in their role as a drill instructor. Here is an overview of what to expect when attending Drill Instructor School:

Application Process

Before attending Drill Instructor School, individuals must meet certain requirements and go through an application process. Some of the requirements include having a minimum rank of sergeant, a minimum of two years of active duty service, and a proven track record of professionalism, leadership, and physical fitness.

Physical Conditioning

Physical fitness is a crucial aspect of being a drill instructor, and therefore, physical conditioning is a significant part of the training at Drill Instructor School. Candidates will undergo rigorous physical training, which includes activities such as running, swimming, strength training, and endurance exercises.

Instructional Techniques

Drill instructors are responsible for teaching new recruits various military skills and techniques. Therefore, Drill Instructor School focuses on developing effective instructional techniques. Candidates will learn how to deliver clear and concise instructions, provide demonstrations, and effectively evaluate and correct trainees.

Leadership Development

As drill instructors, individuals will be required to lead and motivate their recruits to succeed. Drill Instructor School places a strong emphasis on leadership development. Candidates will learn how to inspire and motivate others, set high standards, and effectively manage a diverse group of recruits.

Subject Matter Expertise

Subject Matter Expertise

Drill instructors must have an in-depth knowledge of various subjects, including military history, customs and courtesies, weapons handling, and physical fitness. Drill Instructor School provides candidates with the necessary knowledge and skills to become subject matter experts in these areas.

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Evaluation and Testing

Throughout Drill Instructor School, candidates will be continuously evaluated and tested on their performance. This includes written exams, practical exercises, and leadership assessments. Those who do not meet the required standards may be subject to additional training or removal from the program.

Attending Drill Instructor School is a challenging and demanding experience. However, successful completion of this program is a significant accomplishment and paves the way for individuals to take on the role of a USMC drill instructor.

Learning Instruction Techniques

Aspiring USMC Drill Instructors must undergo rigorous training to learn effective instruction techniques. This training is designed to help them develop the skills necessary to lead and train recruits in the most efficient and effective way possible.

During their training, prospective Drill Instructors will learn a variety of instruction techniques that are specific to the Marine Corps. These techniques are designed to ensure that recruits develop the skills and knowledge necessary to become successful Marines.

Key Instruction Techniques

Here are some key instruction techniques that aspiring USMC Drill Instructors will learn:

  • Direct Instruction: Direct instruction is a teaching method where the Drill Instructor provides clear and concise instructions to the recruits. This method is used to ensure that recruits understand the task at hand and know exactly what is expected of them.
  • Demonstration: Drill Instructors will often demonstrate various tasks or exercises to the recruits. This allows the recruits to see how a task should be performed correctly and gives them a visual reference to follow.
  • Guided Practice: Once the Drill Instructor has provided instruction and demonstrated the task, recruits will engage in guided practice. This involves the recruits performing the task under the guidance and supervision of the Drill Instructor.
  • Correction and Feedback: Drill Instructors will provide immediate feedback and correction to recruits during training. This helps to reinforce proper techniques and address any errors or mistakes that may occur.

Training and Practice

Learning these instruction techniques takes time and practice. Aspiring Drill Instructors will have opportunities throughout their training to practice and refine their instructional skills. They will receive feedback from experienced instructors and have the chance to observe and learn from them as well.

Additionally, aspiring Drill Instructors will also have the opportunity to lead training sessions and evaluate the performance of their peers. This helps them develop their leadership skills and gain experience in providing feedback and guidance to others.

Continued Development

Even after becoming a certified USMC Drill Instructor, the learning and development of instructional techniques continues. Drill Instructors participate in regular professional development courses and attend workshops to improve their teaching skills and stay current with the latest training methods.

This ongoing development ensures that Drill Instructors are always equipped with the most effective and up-to-date instruction techniques to train the next generation of Marines.

Undergoing Physical Fitness Training

Preparing for the Physical Demands

Before embarking on the journey to become a USMC Drill Instructor, it is crucial to undergo physical fitness training to ensure you are physically prepared for the demanding tasks ahead. The physical fitness tests and requirements in the Marine Corps are rigorous, and drill instructors must be in exceptional shape to lead and train recruits effectively.

The Physical Fitness Test (PFT)

The Physical Fitness Test (PFT)

The first step in the physical fitness training is passing the Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test (PFT). This test consists of three main components:

  • Pull-ups: Drill instructors must complete a minimum of 20 pull-ups to pass this portion of the test.
  • Crunches: A minimum of 100 crunches must be completed within a two-minute time frame.
  • Three-Mile Run: The final component is a three-mile run, which must be completed within a specific time frame depending on age and gender.

Endurance Training

In addition to the PFT, drill instructors must also undergo endurance training to build stamina and improve overall fitness levels. This training often includes long-distance running, obstacle courses, and high-intensity interval training.

Strength Training

Strength training is a crucial aspect of physical fitness training for drill instructors. Exercises such as weightlifting, calisthenics, and circuit training are commonly incorporated to build muscle strength and increase physical power.

Combat Fitness Training

Drill instructors also undergo combat fitness training to ensure they are prepared for the physical demands of combat situations. This training involves simulated combat scenarios, tactical drills, and other exercises that replicate real-life combat situations.

Continuous Physical Conditioning

Physical fitness training is not a one-time event but an ongoing process throughout a drill instructor’s career. To maintain their physical fitness levels, drill instructors engage in continuous physical conditioning, which includes regular workouts, fitness assessments, and adherence to the Marine Corps physical fitness standards.


Undergoing physical fitness training is an essential step for individuals aspiring to become USMC Drill Instructors. By preparing for the physical demands, passing the PFT, engaging in endurance and strength training, undergoing combat fitness training, and maintaining continuous physical conditioning, individuals can ensure they are physically prepared for the demanding role of a drill instructor.

Gaining Experience as a Junior Drill Instructor

Once you have successfully completed the rigorous training to become a United States Marine Corps (USMC) Drill Instructor, your journey doesn’t end there. As a newly minted Junior Drill Instructor, you will embark on a new chapter in your career, where you will gain valuable experience and continue to shape the future of the Marine Corps.

1. Mentorship from Senior Drill Instructors

As a Junior Drill Instructor, you will work closely with experienced Senior Drill Instructors who will serve as your mentors. They will guide you through the process of training new recruits and share their knowledge and expertise with you. This mentorship is an invaluable opportunity for you to learn from those who have already mastered the art of drill instruction.

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2. Refining Your Instructional Skills

During this phase of your career, it is important to continue to refine your instructional skills. You will have the chance to practice and perfect your drill techniques, commands, and overall ability to effectively communicate with recruits. The more experience you gain, the more confident and proficient you will become as a drill instructor.

3. Building Relationships with Recruits

As a Junior Drill Instructor, one of your primary responsibilities will be to build strong and respectful relationships with the recruits under your charge. You will be the role model and mentor for these young men and women, guiding them through the demanding training process and helping them develop the skills and discipline necessary to become successful Marines.

4. Assisting in Overall Training Operations

In addition to working directly with recruits, you will also have the opportunity to contribute to the overall training operations. This may include assisting in planning and executing training exercises, evaluating recruit performance, and providing feedback to both recruits and fellow drill instructors.

5. Continuous Professional Development

As a Junior Drill Instructor, your journey of growth and development never stops. You will have ongoing opportunities for professional development, including attending workshops, seminars, and training courses that are designed to enhance your leadership and instructional skills. Taking advantage of these opportunities will help you advance in your career as a drill instructor.

Benefits Requirements
  • Opportunity for mentorship
  • Chance to refine instructional skills
  • Build relationships with recruits
  • Successfully complete drill instructor training
  • Demonstrate leadership abilities
  • Possess strong communication skills

Evaluating and Advancing in the Role

Once you have become a USMC Drill Instructor, your performance in the role will be evaluated on an ongoing basis. This evaluation process is crucial for ensuring that you are effectively training and leading the recruits under your command. It helps identify areas where you can improve and grow as a Drill Instructor.

Performance Evaluations

Performance evaluations for Drill Instructors are typically carried out by senior staff and officers within the US Marine Corps. These evaluations take into account various factors, including your discipline, leadership abilities, communication skills, and your overall performance in training recruits. They aim to provide feedback on your strengths and areas for improvement.

During these evaluations, your superiors will assess your ability to effectively instruct and demonstrate the required skills and knowledge to the recruits. This includes evaluating your physical fitness, knowledge of drills and ceremonies, and your ability to maintain discipline and order.

It is important to take these evaluations seriously and to always strive for improvement in your role as a Drill Instructor. The feedback provided can help you develop your skills and become a better leader.

Advancement Opportunities

Advancement opportunities within the ranks of Drill Instructors are available for those who excel in their role and show potential for leadership. Advancement in this field is based on a combination of factors, including performance evaluations, time served, and the availability of positions.

Drill Instructors can advance to higher positions, such as Senior Drill Instructor or Drill Master, where they will be responsible for overseeing and mentoring other Drill Instructors. These higher positions come with increased responsibilities and require additional training and qualifications.

Advancing in the role of a Drill Instructor requires dedication, hard work, and a commitment to the mission of the US Marine Corps.

Continuing Education and Professional Development

As a Drill Instructor, it is important to continue your education and professional development to stay current with the latest training techniques and standards. The US Marine Corps offers various professional development programs and courses that can help you enhance your skills as a Drill Instructor.

These programs may focus on leadership development, instructional techniques, physical fitness training, or other areas relevant to the role of a Drill Instructor. Participating in these programs shows dedication to your profession and can contribute to your career advancement.

Additionally, staying updated with the latest regulations, policies, and procedures related to drill and ceremony training is essential to your role as a Drill Instructor. This will ensure that you are teaching recruits the most up-to-date information and techniques.

Overall, evaluating your performance, seeking advancement opportunities, and continuing your education are key components of becoming a successful and effective USMC Drill Instructor.


What are the requirements to become a USMC Drill Instructor?

The requirements to become a USMC Drill Instructor include being a sergeant or staff sergeant in the Marine Corps, having a minimum of two years remaining in your current enlistment contract, having a high school diploma or equivalent, and meeting certain physical fitness standards.

What is the role of a USMC Drill Instructor?

A USMC Drill Instructor is responsible for training and mentoring new Marines. They instill discipline, teach basic military skills, and prepare recruits for the challenges they will face in the Marine Corps.

How long does it take to become a USMC Drill Instructor?

The process of becoming a USMC Drill Instructor can take several months. After meeting the initial requirements, you must complete the Drill Instructor School, which is a 12-week training program. The entire process, from enlistment to completing the training, can take around two years.

Can women become USMC Drill Instructors?

Yes, women can become USMC Drill Instructors. The Marine Corps opened up all military occupational specialties to women in 2016, allowing them to serve in previously male-only roles, including Drill Instructor.


Harrison Clayton

Harrison Clayton

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