Marine Intelligence Officer Career Path

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Marine Intelligence Officer Career Path

Marine intelligence officers are in a unique position to protect the homeland and our allies. They work in an environment where they are constantly challenged by new, unusual, and often unknown situations. Marine Intelligence Officers must be able to think quickly on their feet while under pressure from superiors and colleagues alike.

Marine intelligence officers have two main functions: a collection of information about foreign military forces or terrorist groups; and analysis of this information to assess its implications for US security interests. This article will guide you through the career path of Marine Intelligence Officers.

1. What Is a Marine Intelligence Officer?

A Marine intelligence officer collects, evaluates, and reports all information gathered about foreign military forces or terrorist organizations that might affect the security of the US. These officers act as a liaison between units and higher HQs to provide relevant, accurate information. They also plan reconnaissance missions for small units on land, sea, air, and electronic platforms.

Marine intelligence officers are primarily responsible for producing finished, all-source military intelligence products to support Marine Expeditionary Forces (MEFs) and other operating forces. These officers are also involved in the collection of information by using reconnaissance systems.

2. What Does a Marine Intelligence Officer Do?

The marine intelligence officer has several responsibilities. You will be involved in all types of military operations, from peacekeeping missions to full-scale war. Marine intelligence officers are responsible for collecting and evaluating information about foreign forces or terrorist groups that may affect US security interests. You will also work with other service members (including Air Force Intelligence Officers) to conduct reconnaissance and surveillance activities.

Additionally, marine intelligence officers will:

  • Assess foreign political and military capabilities and intentions.
  • Assist in the development of power projection requirements and associated Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) intelligence support.
  • Analyze all-source information during exercises, warfighting experimentation programs, training events, contingencies, and military operations.
  • Identify and report intelligence gaps and shortfalls, recommend courses of action to address the shortfalls, and monitor the effectiveness of implemented solutions.
  • Assist in the preparation of daily and long-term military intelligence forecasts.
  • Assess foreign information and analysis capabilities.
  • Coordinate with other units to ensure that the Marine Corps is properly represented at multi-service or joint high-level forums, i.e., centers/institutes, boards, working groups, etc.

3. What Types of Missions Will a Marine Intelligence Officer Be Involved in?

While marine intelligence officers are primarily responsible for collecting and reporting information used in military operations, they may also be involved in other types of missions. These types of missions include:

Maritime interception operations.- This type of mission is used to stop or seize ships that are illegally transporting people, weapons, or drugs. You may be the officer in charge of the patrol boat during these missions.

Search and rescue operations.- These types of missions are often conducted following natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. Marine intelligence officers might use reconnaissance assets to assist in locating survivors following a disaster.

Counterdrug ops.- Intelligence plays an important role in counterdrug operations conducted on land, sea, and air platforms. You will help plan these types of operations by assessing foreign capabilities and intentions with regard to drug trafficking into the US.

Conflict management.- Many problems between nations can be resolved through diplomatic negotiations; however, issues may require military intervention, including the use of armed force. Your analysis will help commanders decide when and how to use military force in cases that may have a diplomatic solution.

4. What Is the Pay for a Marine Intelligence Officer?

A Marine Intelligence Officer’s starting salary is based on rank as of 2017.

An officer in the grade of O-1 to O-3 with over four years of experience will earn an annual salary between $39,597.00 and $45,399.00 ( BAH for O-1 with dependents).

Those with over ten years of experience as an O-4 will receive between $58,865.80 and $64,765.60 per month (BAH for O-2 with dependents).

As for marine intelligence officers’ allowance, you should know that he or she may also be eligible to receive additional pay based on his or her marital status and number of dependents, as well as the cost of living in the location where he or she is stationed. For those who are stationed in a combat zone, you should know that they may be eligible to receive imminent danger pay and other entitlements.

5. How Does a Marine Intelligence Officer Do His Job?

To do your job, you will use the information gathered by all US intelligence agencies to make assessments about foreign forces and terrorist groups. You will also conduct reconnaissance missions to gather more in-depth information on potential threats. After getting information from a variety of sources, you will piece together a big picture of the situation. You will give briefings to commanders and other intelligence officers so they have all the pertinent information on enemy forces.

As an Intelligence Officer in the Marine Corps, you’ll be expected to work with computer systems such as geographic information systems (GIS) and the Marine Corps Intelligence Operational System (MCIO). You will also be responsible for managing intelligence data and organizing, prioritizing, and analyzing it. Finally, you’ll use the information to determine what new information is needed and how best to obtain that information.

6. How to Become a Marine Intelligence Officer?

The path to becoming an officer is long and challenging. You must complete several phases of training before you are ready to serve as a Marine Intelligence Officer.

To become a marine intelligence officer, you’ll first need at least a bachelor‘s degree from an accredited college or university. Your degree can be in any subject; you do not necessarily have to study intelligence or foreign affairs. Once you complete your undergraduate degree, you’ll need to complete Officer Candidate School (OCS).

After OCS, you’ll attend The Basic School (TBS), which is where all new Marine Corps Officers learn the basics of being a Marine. During TBS, officers will spend six months in rigorous training, learning leadership skills and the art of war. After TBS, you will go to The Basic Intelligence Officers Course (IOC) in Dam Neck, Virginia, for intelligence training.

After you complete TIOC, marine intelligence officers attend The Expeditionary Warfare School (EWS) and then The Marine Combat Training (MCT) course in Camp Pendleton, California. MCT is a three-week course that provides Marines with the basic knowledge and skills they need before embarking on their first deployment. To learn more about how to become a marine intelligence officer, visit here.

To make yourself stand out from other applicants, you should list all relevant skills and experiences under each category when creating your resume for recruiting purposes. Also include any previous military service or extra-curricular activities such as language courses, leadership roles, and educational achievements.

If you’re planning to attend law school, medical school, or a Ph.D. program after you complete your initial officer contract, you may be able to apply for a deferment. It’s important to remember that you will have to serve three years of active duty upon completion of your degree and the deferment period.

You’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and must score at least 110 in each area on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test before you can join as an intelligence officer in the US Marines. You must also be between the ages of 18-30 and a US citizen. To qualify, you must pass a medical exam, physical fitness test, and security clearance investigation.

7. Is It Possible to Move Up the Ranks as a Marine Intelligence Officer?

It is definitely possible to move up the ranking system as a marine intelligence officer; however, these promotions will be based on your performance and recommendations from your superiors.

To be promoted, both officers and enlisted marines must meet certain time-in-grade requirements (TIG) as mandated by law. Time in grade simply means the amount of time you have been serving at your current rank before you can be considered for promotion. Additionally, you must meet certain time-in-service (TIS) requirements which depend upon the TIG for your rank. For any marine who has served in the military for less than 24 months at the O-1 grade, there are no TIS requirements.

8. What Training Will I Receive As a Marine Intelligence Officer?

Newly commissioned Marine Corps Intelligence Officers attend The Basic School (TBS) in Quantico, Virginia, for six months before moving on to the Military Intelligence Officer Course at Fort Huachuca in Arizona. You’ll learn everything from basic leadership skills to advanced techniques in military intelligence. Additionally, you will study foreign cultures during your time in the Marine Corps. Being able to understand different cultures is significant since the Marine Expeditionary Force is involved with missions throughout the world.

During your time in the military, you will also be required to pass three more intelligence-related courses. One of these courses is The Basic Intelligence Officer Course (IOC). This course lasts five months and covers tools used for defense planning by major commands and combatant commanders.

The Expeditionary Warfare School (EWS) teaches students how to plan missions that support the force’s objectives on land, at sea, or in the air. After completing EWS, students are awarded a certificate in Naval Expeditionary Combat Command Studies. Lastly, marine officers attend The Marine Corps Intelligence Center Advanced Training Course (MCC), where they study advanced image analysis techniques through four different Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) intelligence systems.

9. What Is the Job Outlook for a Marine Intelligence Officer?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are around 54,320 people employed as police, detectives, and criminal investigators throughout the US. The BLS also states that there will be an increase of five percent within this profession from 2012-to 2022.

In 2011, a marine intelligence officer’s average annual salary was listed at $56,500, which is slightly higher than the national average for all other jobs in law enforcement. Due to security clearances required for this position, there may be opportunities for those who want to become a marine intelligence officer through a federal agency such as the Central Intelligence Agency or Federal Bureau of Investigation.

10. What Skills Does a Marine Intelligence Officer Need?

Some of the skills you need to become a marine intelligence officer include:

Strong leadership skills- You will lead both marines and civilians while on your missions.

Ability to make logical decisions quickly- Intelligence officers must be able to assess any given situation and react accordingly. You’ll also need critical thinking skills in order to give intelligence reports.

Strong writing abilities- Before deployments, intelligence officers must write information for their briefs which may include target profiles, weapons systems, and other data.

Good communication skills- Marine intelligence officers must be able to present information clearly and concisely in front of groups. You will also need good interpersonal skills in order to get the most accurate information from your sources.

Computer expertise- Intelligence officers spend a great amount of time making use of computer programs, databases, and other tools which are used for research.

Knowledge of foreign cultures- It’s essential for intelligence officers to understand the culture of where they are operating in order to get information from sources.

11. How Long Does It Take to Become a Marine Intelligence Officer?

Becoming a marine intelligence officer requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. You will first need to apply to be a Marine Corps Officer Candidate by taking the Officer Candidate Test (OCT), which measures your critical thinking and writing skills. After being accepted as an officer candidate, you’ll attend the Basic Officer Candidates School at Quantico for six months, where you will learn basic leadership and Marine Corps knowledge.

Marine intelligence officers typically spend their first year as an Intelligence Officer with the G-2 of either a regiment or division. After this, you may become a member of one of the three branch schools: The Ground Intelligence Training Center at Camp Pendleton, CA; The Aerial Reconnaissance Coordination Center at Moody Air Force Base, GA; or the Intelligence Training Center at Dam Neck, VA.

The length of time it takes to become a marine intelligence officer depends on your assignment once you’ve completed your training with one of the three schools. You’ll next need to complete several years of either field experience or technical training before advancing in rank and position within the Marine Corps. As an enlisted marine, you will typically enter as a sergeant (E-5) and work your way up through the ranks until retirement.

12. What Specializations Are Available Within the Marine Intelligence Officer Field?

Some of the specializations available to marine intelligence officers are:

Military Intelligence- Military Intelligence Officers, should possess the ability to work under stress, be resourceful, display initiative and be responsible. As a basic military officer, you will typically spend your first few years in one of three branches: Ground, Airborne, or Surveillance and Target Acquisition. 

Field Artillery Officer- Field Artillery Officers provide fire support for Marine Corps units during land engagements. You’ll need at least several months of training within this specialty before advancing to your next assignment.

Combat Engineer- Combat Engineers are responsible for constructing stationary explosive devices such as protective bunkers, bridges, and roadblocks that help improve mission efficiency. You must complete combat engineer training before becoming eligible for assignment.

Communication/Electronics- Communication/Electronics Officers are responsible for the installation, operation, and maintenance of electronic equipment used in global military operations. You will learn various forms of communications, including wire, radio, and satellite, in this specialty. You will need to complete communications officer training before being assigned.


The Marine Corps intelligence officer career path is an interesting and challenging one. It requires a unique blend of skills, including strong leadership abilities, critical thinking skills, and knowledge of complex systems. If you’re interested in pursuing a career as a Marine Corps intelligence officer, make sure you have the drive and determination to succeed in this highly competitive field. And above all else, always remember that the success of your team depends on your ability to lead them effectively and guide them through difficult challenges.

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