The Royal Marines or Commandos are the Royal Navy's frontline fighting force. They operate from the sea, from the air and on land. They specialise in combat in hostile environments, from the jungles of Sierra Leone to the mountains of Afghanistan. The Royal Marines also includes the Royal Marines Band Service, which represents the Royal Navy and Royal Marines at home and abroad.
After their initial training course commandos start out as General Duties Marines, usually as riflemen in a commando unit. After one to two years they can go on to train in one of 27 specialisations, including: aircrew, assault engineer, heavy weapon specialist, swimmer canoeist, medical assistant or mountain leader. Some recruits specialise at the end of their initial training.
As a Royal Marines Commando you could be:
- serving with the Fleet Protection Group, guarding the UK's nuclear weapons
- in the Fleet Standby Rifle Troop, boarding ships at sea that are breaking international laws – like arms or drug smugglers
- launching attacks on enemy troops
- on peacekeeping duty anywhere in the world
- rescuing civilians caught up in overseas conflicts.
As a member of the Royal Marines Band Service (RMBS), which has 5 different bands, you could be:
- training as a professional musician
- playing in a band or orchestra
- training as a bugler or drummer
- in war, helping the Medical Branch deal with casualties aboard ships
- helping to treat civilian casualties of natural disasters, such as floods.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
- where you work
- what job you do.
The starting salary for a Royal Marine is £14,700 during basic training. After completing 32 weeks training, this rises to £20,000. Salaries increase as you could up the ranks. Potential earnings can reach £48,000 as Warrant Officer 1.
You get extra allowances in some jobs and for being overseas. The Royal Marines service provides subsidised food and accommodation, uniforms and protective clothing, free healthcare and a pension.
- Working conditions vary, depending on where you are and what you are doing, but you could often be working in difficult and dangerous environments.
- You may be away from home and family for several months on end.
- You can be sent anywhere in the UK or abroad, sometimes at short notice.
- You might have to work in very hot or very cold weather or in other extreme conditions.
- Hours might be long and irregular, and you might have to work shifts.
- You are entitled to six weeks holiday.
- It is not always adventurous and exciting; there is a lot of routine work.
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- You do not need any formal qualifications, but a good standard of general education is important. If you are applying to join as a musician or bugler, you must be able to read music and play a musical instrument to a high standard.
- You must be at least 15 years and 9 months when you apply, and aged between 16 and 32 when you join as a marine, a musician or a bugler. If you are under 18 your parents or guardians must agree to your joining.
- The Royal Marines is open to men and women.
- You must be a British, Irish or Commonwealth citizen.
- You must be fit and healthy – there is a strict medical examination and a fitness test.
- Men must be at least 151.5cm (5ft 0in) tall and weigh at least 65kg. At present there are no height and weight limits for women. You must be within the healthy range for BMI (max 28).
The selection process involves a series of interviews, plus mental and physical tests.
- You will take the Naval Service Recruitment Test (NSRT), which includes English, maths, problem solving skills and understanding of mechanics. You will find examples on the Royal Navy website.
- Undertake a medical and eye test as well as Royal Navy pre joining fitness test. If you are applying for the RMBS you will also need to sit an audition.
- If you pass this stage you do a four-day 'Potential Royal Marines Course' at the Commando Training Centre at Lympstone, in Devon or, if you are a potential RMBS recruit, you will be invited for a second audition and interview. You will be required to pass a range of physical and mental tests in the gym, the classroom and on the assault course.
- Security checks will be carried out.
If you are accepted, you are offered a career for 12 years, but on first promotion this is extended to 20 years or to the age of 40, whichever is longer. In some cases you can serve to the age of 50.
The conditions on leaving and how much notice is required varies depending on which branch or specialism you are in. The Royal Navy recruitment offices would advise on this.
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What Does it Take?
You should be:
- reliable and adaptable
- able to react quickly
- able to remain calm under pressure and work in dangerous situations
- an excellent team worker.
You should have:
- good physical and mental stamina
- a sense of adventure.
- All new entrants complete a basic training course.
- Commandos train for 32 weeks at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM) at Lympstone, in Devon. This physically demanding set of endurance tests includes jungle, mountain and arctic warfare.
- Musicians and Buglers complete a Basic Military Skills course which lasts around 15 weeks, depending on individual progress, and then move onto Phase 2.
- Musicians complete two years and eight months of training at the Royal Marines School of Music (RMSoM), learning one or more instruments. During your career in the band you will have to become skilled in at least one string plus one wind instrument. You will play in the orchestra as well as the band and you play a range of music: military, classical, jazz and pop.
- Buglers complete one year and eight months phase 2 training.
- You keep up to date by attending short training courses during your time in the Royal Marines.
- You may be promoted to corporal after passing the Junior Command course and a specialist course; and to sergeant after passing the Senior Command course and a specialist course. This requires a number of years of experience.
- Taking training courses and doing well in your work will help you move on.
- You can progress to become a Royal Marines officer.
- RMBS members can progress to become a Band Sergeant and in some cases, a Warrant Officer Bandmaster.
- Before leaving the Royal Marines you can retrain if you wish, but many marines gain qualifications and experience that can be used afterwards.
For detailed information about the Royal Marines visit the Royal Marines website. The Band of the Royal Marines Scotland is based at the Royal Naval Support Establishment HMS Caledonia, Rosyth. Visit the Royal Marine Bands Online for more information.
The following organisations may be able to provide further information.
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