Can a U.S. Marine Become A Navy SEAL? 

    According to recent global statistics, the United States has one of the strongest and most skillful armed forces. The estimated defense budget of the U.S. is $612.5 billion. Additionally, the U.S. Armed Forces have over 1.3 million active members and more than 800,000 reserve forces. 

The United States Marine Corps (USMC), commonly known as the Marines, is one of the most sought-after branches within the Armed Forces. It is also one of the smallest due to their stringent requisites and challenging duties. However, given the complexity of the United States’ military system, most people ignore the difference between a member of the U.S. Navy, a U.S Marine, and a Navy Seal.  

Know that the USMC is part of the U.S. Navy. In other words, even though the Marine Corps is an independent branch of the United States military, it falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Navy. The Navy SEALs, on the other hand, are a special operations force named after the environment in which they operate: Sea, Air, and Land.  

So, can a U.S. Marine become A Navy Seal? In short, a U.S. Marine or a U.S. Navy member could eventually become a Navy Seal. Nonetheless, the U.S. Navy SEALs are an elite unit —more selective and more stringent to be admitted to than the Marines or the U.S. Navy. As a result, a Marine would have to qualify for entry to become a Navy Seal.  

Below we will go over the differences between these three departments, their duties, what it takes to become a Navy SEAL, and more.  


Differences between the U.S. Marines and the Navy SEALs 

Can a U.S. Marine Become A Navy SEAL? 

The United States Marine Corps is part of the five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. It was founded in 1775 as a special service. And Although it falls under the U.S. Navy, as of 1798, the United States Congress established the USMC as a separate service. As a result, the Marines have a specific structure and chain of command.  

Navy SEALs are the U.S. Navy’s primary special operations force. They are part of the Naval Special Warfare Command (NSWC). They also are the maritime component of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM).  

As explained before, the U.S. Navy SEALs are an elite unit, considered more selective and harder to join than the U.S. Marines. But that is not the only difference between the two departments. Some other distinctions include: 



To start, the U.S. Marines specialize in expeditionary and amphibious operations. And although Marines have a wide variety of responsibilities, their primary focus is Marine combat. As a result, Marines: 

  • Protect and defend naval bases
  • Support naval campaigns
  • Guard U.S. embassies (and U.S. territories across the globe)
  • Provide intervention in international affairs on behalf of American interests
  • Are at the service of the President of the United States and the Department of Defense

The Navy SEALs specialize in special operations to conduct military actions that surpass the capability of conventional military forces. Their mission areas include: 

  • Unconventional warfare
  • Combating terrorism
  • Foreign internal defense
  • Information warfare
  • Counter-drug operations
  • Personnel recovery
  • Reconnaissance
  • And more
Can a U.S. Marine Become A Navy SEAL? 

The most significant trait that distinguishes Navy SEALs from all other military forces is that SEALs are maritime special forces. In essence, they strike from and return to the sea. 



Size is another distinct difference between the USMC and the Navy SEALs. As of 2019, there were roughly 185,000 active Marines and 102,000 members of the Marine Corps Reserve. Navy SEALs, on the other hand, account for less than 1% of the U.S. Navy. And according to the United States Naval Special Warfare Command (WARCOM), as of last year, there were approximately 2,450 active-duty SEALs and 325 SEALs serving in reserve units. 



The USMC and the Navy SEALs have two very different headquarter locations, strategically designed to allow them to go about their duties contentedly.  

Navy SEALs are stationed at two different bases: 

  • Teams 1, 3, 5, and 7, as well as the Naval Special Warfare Center, are located at NAB Coronado in California.
  • Teams 2, 4, 8, and 10 are based at NAB Little Creek in Virginia. 
  • Team 6 is considered the most elite team within the Navy SEALs and the U.S. Armed Forces. As a result, their exact location remains “top secret.”

However, it is said that the government keeps the total numbers of SEALs and SEAL teams a secret for national security purposes.  

The United States Marine Corps headquarter is located in Arlington County, Virginia.  



Marine boot camp training is considerably more challenging than the basic training programs of any of the other military branches. Additionally, it is also the longest with 13 weeks.  

According to recent statistics, every year, approximately 35,000-40,000 recruits undergo training to become a U.S. Marine. All recruits must pass a series of assessments before initiating training. Around 96%of male candidates pass basic training, and nearly 25% of females make it through. 

Training to become a Navy SEAL is even more strenuous than the Marine boot camp. Out of the 1,000 candidates that begin basic training every year, only about 200 complete it. Plus, the average Navy SEAL spends over a year in a series of formal training environments.   


The Marine Corps emblem goes back to the designs and ornaments that were worn by the British Royal Marines. It includes: 

  • Eagle, representing the United States
  • Globe, signifying the continued services across the world
  • Anchor, allusive to the sea where they operate

Moreover, there is a ribbon clasped in the Eagle’s beak, bearing the Latin words “Semper Fidelis” that translate into “Always Faithful.”  

The Navy SEALs Insignia is commonly referred to as the “Budweiser” or SEAL “Trident.” It was developed in the 1960s and is given to every SEAL upon graduation. 

The symbol was initially issued in two grades: gold badge for officers and silver for enlisted. However, in the 1970s, the silver badge was removed, and only the gold Budweiser remains.  


How to become a Navy SEAL 

Can a U.S. Marine Become A Navy SEAL? 

Becoming a Navy SEAL is no easy task. To do so, you must possess a wide range of aptitudes and skills — not only physical but also mental. Thus, if you are determined on joining this special task force, know that you must first comply with the following requisites: 

Have a High School Diploma (or its equivalent) 

Be 17-28 years of age  

Be a U.S. citizen 

Be eligible for security clearance 

Meet specific eyesight requirements (have vision correctable to 20/20) 

Have no history of drug abuse 

Meet the minimum Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) score 

Have a basic comprehension of mechanical, electrical, automotive, and shop principles 

If you qualify to become a Navy SEAL, you must attend the Naval Special Warfare Preparatory School located in Great Lakes, Illinois. Here, aspiring candidates receive a crash course in the physical criteria required to become a SEAL. 

All candidates must successfully pass the initial Navy SEAL Physical Screening Test (PST) by performing the following physical activities under the expected times:  

  • Swim 500 yards in 12.5 minutes (or less)
  • Do 42 push-ups in 2 minutes
  • Complete 50 sit-ups in 2 minutes
  • Perform 6 pull-ups
  • Run 1.5 miles in 11 minutes (or less)

After completing the program, candidates are required to take a more demanding Physical Screening Test. The goal is to increase the trainees’ physical readiness between the two tests. Aspirants who are unable to pass the final examination are removed from the SEALs’ training pipeline. 

Once you pass the final PST, you move on to stage two. Stage two consists of a 24-week training program called the “Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL” (BUD/S). Here, candidates are trained to have specific mental, physical, and team skills. The program is divided into 4 phases:  

  • Orientation (three weeks)
  • Physical conditioning (seven weeks)
  • Combat Diving (seven weeks)
  • Land Warfare (seven weeks)
Can a U.S. Marine Become A Navy SEAL? 

Each BUD/S phase has timed physical condition tests, that become more demanding with each week that passes. Consequently, only 1% of aspirants who enter the BUD/S program complete it. 

Upon completion, all trainees must receive both static line and free-fall parachute jumping training at the Tactical Air Operations’ headquarters located in San Diego, CA. The training lasts three weeks, and to complete the course, aspirants must pass through a series of jump progressions. The last assessment consists of a night descent (with combat equipment) from a minimum altitude of 9,500 feet. 

After the parachute trainee program, students go through a 28-week SEAL Qualification Training (SQT) program. Graduation from SQT ends in the awarding of the coveted Navy SEAL Trident. 

New SEALs are then assigned to a SEAL team and can now begin the advanced training program. It usually takes between 13-18 months to officially become a Navy SEAL and be assigned to a troop and subordinate platoon. Once you are assigned to their platoon, SEALs will partake in a variety of specialized training such as the Individual Specialty Training (IST), the Unit Level Training (ULT), and the Task Group Level Training.  


Female Navy SEALs 

Women make up 17% of the entire U.S. Navy, and they are virtually allowed to hold the same jobs as their male counterparts. However, up until 2016, women were not allowed in special forces units within the military.  

Note that female candidates are still required to undergo the same training as men. In other words, there are no special considerations.  

As a result, no woman has ever been selected to be part of the Navy SEALs. Nonetheless, in 2019, for the first time, a woman was able to complete the demanding Navy SEAL’s screening and training program. And even though she was not selected to advance to the BUD/S program, the fact that she was able to make through the initial stage is an achievement on its own.  


Wrapping it up! 

There are various notable differences between a U.S. Navy member, a U.S. Marine, and a Navy SEAL. Each department has a specific set of responsibilities and tasks. 

Any U.S. Navy member or Marine may apply to become a Navy SEAL and be part of an elite team focusing on special operations. Nonetheless, they would still need to undergo through the entire selection process, screening, and training as any other candidate or aspirant.  

The only benefit is that based on their experience, they would have a considerable advantage when compared to civilians who have not received any kind of military training. Plus, former Marines or Navy officers already have the discipline and mental skills required for the job. Thus, the only remainder is specialized training! 

 Wondering what Navy SEALs do once they retire? Find out here:

Related Questions

Is there a Marine equivalent to the Navy SEALs?

Even though we established that the U.S. Marines and the Navy SEALs are two different things, there is a Marine Corps “equivalent” to the Navy SEALs. It consists of a special operations unit known as the Marine Raider Regiment, which is the primary operating force of the Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC.) Their mission is to render tailored military combat skills and special operations capacities on special operations missions. 


How much does a Navy SEAL make?

According to the Department of Defense, the youngest Navy SEAL graduates usually make $2,600 to $4,100 a month. This means that the base salary level is almost the same as the median annual salary for teachers in the United States.  

Nonetheless, all military personnel is qualified to receive higher pay, depending on their skills and years of experience. Consequently, the average salary for a Navy SEAL is roughly $74,100.  

Keep in mind that an Admiral (which is the highest rank) receives nearly $15,800 per month or $189,600 per year, plus benefits.  

How long is a Navy SEAL’s deployment?

SEALs typically operate on 12-month to 18-month cycles, with six months deployed. However, some special units have their own operation and might include more frequent deployments or shorter cycles. 

Related Articles

Learning Spanish for Border Patrol: What you must know

To learn more on how to pass the ASVAB exam click here!

Interested to learn more about the civil service? Check out our free guide here: 

Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.