How To Become a Marine Military Police Officer (MOS 5803)

Updated January 4, 2023

Marine Corps officer surrounded by medals of different ranks

The United States Marine Corps offers a diverse array of job opportunities, including in the area of law enforcement. The Marine Corps military police perform similar duties as civilian police officers, though they work on military bases worldwide. If you find this career interesting, you may want to learn more about its requirements. 

In this article, we discuss the role of a Marine Corps military police officer, list the requirements for this position and share steps you can take to become a Marine military police officer.

What is the Marine Corps military police?

The Marine Corps military police is a law enforcement branch responsible for guarding and protecting military bases. These Marines monitor the base's entrances, patrol by foot or vehicle and respond to emergency calls from military members who live there or in military housing. Their other responsibilities include protecting prisoners of war, refugees or evacuees, guarding military prisoners and performing small-unit offensive and defensive combat operations. They also perform similar day-to-day duties as civilian police officers, such as providing first response aid, managing vehicle and pedestrian traffic, preventing crime and overseeing investigations.

Each job specialty within the Marine Corps has a unique four-digit military occupational specialty code (MOS). The military places roles in groups based on occupational fields, represented by the code's first two digits. Roles within the military police and corrections field start with 58. For example, the Marine Corps Military Police code is MOS 5811 and the Marine Corps Military Police Officer code is MOS 5803.

Related: US Marine MOS List: Guide to Military Occupational Specialty Codes

Requirements for joining the Marine military police

It's important that candidates applying for Marine Corps military police positions meet the following requirements:

  • Be a citizen of the United States

  • Have a valid U.S. driver's license

  • Be at least 19 years old before completing training

  • Have normal, color vision that's correctable to 20/20

  • Be at least 65 inches tall

  • Have the ability to speak clearly

  • Be eligible for a secret security clearance

  • Be free of mental, nervous or emotional conditions

  • Receive a score of at least 100 on the General Technical (GT) portion of the ASVAB

  • Be free of convictions by special- or general courts-martial or civil courts, excluding minor traffic violations

  • Be free of convictions involving illegal drugs, spousal or domestic abuse or immoral character

  • Complete the basic military police course

Related: How To Join the Marines in 8 Steps (With Tips)

How to become a Marine Corps military police officer

There are several requirements to fulfill in order to become a Marine Corps military police officer. If you plan on pursuing this career, you can follow these steps:

1. Participate in Marine Corps basic training

If you're new to the U.S. Marine Corps, the first step is to attend basic training. You can attend training at one of its two Recruit Depots, which are in San Diego, California, and Parris Island, South Carolina. Training lasts 13 weeks and includes physical drills and academic instruction. Some skills you learn include hand-to-hand combat, swimming, marksmanship and combat survival. In the 10th week, you undergo a test on what you learned.

This testing consists of a physical fitness test, written exam, final drill evaluation and a 54-hour field event called the Crucible. To enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps, it's vital that you meet the following requirements:

  • Be a United States citizen

  • Be between the ages of 17 and 28

  • Have a high school diploma or Generational Educational Development (GED)

  • Be able to pass a criminal background check

  • Be free from any felony convictions

  • Pass the Initial Strength Test (IST)

  • Receive a score of 31 or more on the Armed Service Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test if you have a high school diploma or at least 50 if you have a GED or nontraditional degree

Related: What Is Marine Training? (With Training Phases and FAQ)

2. Attend Marine Combat Training

After graduating from basic training, you attend Marine Combat Training at the School of Infantry located in Camp Pendleton, California, or Camp Geiger, North Carolina. This condensed training lasts 29 days and applies to individuals whose military occupational specialty is anything other than infantry, such as military police officers, cooks and administrative personnel. During this training, you learn basic combat and weapons skills, along with more specialized training related to improvised explosive devices, convoy operations and tactical communications.

Related: 20 Marine Corps Jobs: Duties and Salary Info

3. Train at the Marine Corps Police Academy

To become a U.S. Marine Corps military police officer, the next step is to attend Law Enforcement Military Police training within the Marine Corps Police Academy (MCPA) at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. For up to 20 weeks, you learn various law enforcement techniques using a combination of verbal instruction and practical application. This training comprises the Basic Police Officer Course (BPOC) and MCPA Advanced Training courses.

Under the basic course, you study the following areas:

  • Law enforcement operations

  • Weapons and non-lethal weapons

  • First aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillator (AED)

  • Force protection

Advanced courses focus on specialized skills that may enable you to perform specific assignments. Here are the courses available:

  • Field Training Officer (FTO)

  • Desk Sergeants/Patrol Sergeants

  • Watch Commanders

  • Patrol Rifle

  • Police Commanders

  • Special Reaction Team (SRT)

Related: How To Earn a CPR Certification in 6 Steps (Plus Benefits)

4. Progress to your first role

After you complete your training, you may begin your first Marine military police role. Some tasks you may perform include guarding the entrances, verifying visitors' credentials and monitoring the area for suspicious activities. Military police may oversee specific patrol zones throughout the base, which you can do via vehicle or foot. They might also assist with detainees and forensic investigations.

Related: US Marine Corps Promotions: How To Advance

Advancement opportunities for Marine Corps military police officers

After spending time in the Marine military police, you may consider furthering your skill set. The Marine Corps offers several opportunities to advance or specialize. Based on the types of advanced training or courses you participate in, you can choose to pursue Marine Corps positions related to the military police, such as:

  • Dog handler: Additional training enables military police to support investigations by working with dogs. They may use dogs to detect explosives, drugs or unauthorized personnel and locate missing individuals.

  • Accident investigator: Military police can receive additional training to help them enforce traffic laws and regulations. They also gain knowledge regarding accident investigations and reports and traffic control studies.

  • SRT member: With SRT training, military police gain additional capabilities to counter or contain special threat situations like hostage, terrorist or sniper situations. Some skills used include marksmanship, tactical movement and building entry and clearing.

  • Military police investigator: In this more advanced military police role, individuals investigate violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which is the internal code that guides service members. They may perform criminal investigations, personal protective services and crisis management and negotiation tasks.

  • Criminal Investigation Division special agent: These individuals assist with felony criminal investigations regarding crimes against Marine personnel or property. They may perform duties such as covert operations, personal protective services and polygraph examinations.


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