Coast Guard Officer Career Paths


What Happens After Training

Force Readiness Command 101

After completing training, Coast Guard members must be ready for assignment to any location around the world.

An assignment officer will assign a location based on the needs of the Coast Guard.

For those who attended the Aviation Training Center, they are required to return once a year for a one-week proficiency course.

Coast Guard aviators can expect assignments in the aviation career track as well as working within aviation training.

There are options for special assignments after training as well.

Special assignments are within sub-specialties such as training or human resources.

The Coast Guard Ably Programs The Present But Struggles To Build A Future

Strategic thinking and strategic planning are often conflated, but they are different, complementary capabilities. Strategic thinking synthesizes a whole from detailed knowledge of system parts it identifies patterns, cascading effects, multi-order impacts, relationships, and complexities. This leads to a comprehensive vision of desired future states and how to flexibly achieve them.10A common framework for strategic thinking has five elements: it shows a systems perspective is intent-focused incorporates intelligent opportunism thinks in time by linking the past, present, and future and is hypothesis drivenit identifies key drivers and causes.11The output, which we call strategy, is a logic chain that connects past, present, and future to explain what needs to change and why, and the boundaries of acceptable versus unacceptable solutions.12By contrast, strategic planning does not synthesize it analyzes. It breaks large objectives down into a series of discrete tasks that are then assembled in a logical order, with timelines and resources assigned. It constitutes strategic programming of existing and expected resources against already established and agreed-on strategy.13Both strategic thinking and strategic planning are necessary for organizational success, but strategic planning does notand cannotdevelop strategy.14

How To Join The Coast Guard

You can enlist with the Coast Guard right out high school or apply to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Academy graduates earn a bachelor’s degree and an officer’s commission, which translates to higher pay and greater responsibility.

Enlisted shipmates attend an eight-week basic training program that pushes the limits both physically and mentally. Although the pay might be low for the first year at just more than $15,000, health care is provided at no cost, as well as government housing where available.

Additional allowances are available for off-base housing and at-sea pay, and salary increases are earned for promotions and length of service

The reserve program can let you earn extra income while you gain valuable training and experience if the Coast Guard interests you but you’re not ready to make a full-time commitment.

You May Like: Career Goals For Project Managers

History Of The Coast Guard

The Coast Guard was originally part of the Department of Transportation, but soon after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush established the Department of Homeland Security , and the Coast Guard was transferred from civilian leadership to military leadership as part of DHS. Coast Guard roles were upgraded to encompass anti-terrorism and port protection, as well as other lifesaving, shipping security, and drug interdiction duties.

As one of the nation’s five armed services, the Coast Guard has been involved in every war from 1790 to Iraq and Afghanistan. It was officially established as the Revenue Marine by the Continental Congress at the request of Alexander Hamilton. Its first purpose was to collect customs duties in the nation’s seaports.

Make Strategic Thinking An Enduring Core Competency

Home  Today

Currently, strategic thinkers are not identified or rewarded, nor do they have a career path in the Coast Guard.36The service must create permanent billets to create this path, revamp evaluation instruments to identify good strategic thinkers, and offer educational opportunities to build the right knowledge base.

At lower echelons, this includes developing a systems understanding of the unit and its operating environment and, given the operational data, intelligence information, and other inputs, developing a probabilistic forecast of how its operations might need to change. These are evidence-based, causal models that can inform everything from operational planning and programming to headquarters-level budgeting and resource requests. At higher echelons, the strategic thinker encounters more complex systems and would be part of a strategy development team. Strategic management could occur at the headquarters level, ensuring that programmatic decisions support and implement strategy. This charts a viable career path with roles at all echelons.

The Coast Guard can no longer rely on this generalist approach, and must create specialists at the executive levels by developing narrow, single track officer career paths for a small subset of its officer corps.

Don’t Miss: Journal Prompts For Career Exploration

Congress Forces The Coast Guard To Change

Like every agency, the Coast Guard is a service subject to external powers as part of its operating environmental system. A refusal to act can be met with mandates. Congress has forced major changes upon the Coast Guard at least twice as a response to the service failing to examine and act on its future. One such change restructured Coast Guard acquisition processes and personnel. The other mandated changes to Coast Guard specialties and career paths. Both were spearheaded from 2007 to 2010 by then-U.S. Representatives Elijah E. Cummings and James L. Oberstar .

The Coast Guards attempt to recapitalize its aging equipment and assets began with the Integrated Deepwater System program in the late 1990s. The program was initially planned for a pre-9/11 workload that did not include many aspects of port and maritime security. In 2002, the Coast Guard asked the RAND Corporation to evaluate if the planned assets would meet post-9/11 burdens. RAND found that the Coast Guards program of record undershot the original needs and met only about 60 percent of post-9/11 estimates.30Apart from this, IDS was beset from the beginning by contract management and oversight problems created by insufficient Coast Guard expertise and capability, so in 2010 Congress imposed laws preventing the service from using certain practices and mandated changes to acquisition policy, organization, training, and execution.31

Promotions In The Coast Guard

Individuals enlisting in the Coast Guard can receive advanced promotion, up to the rank of Seaman , for such things as college credits, JROTC, Eagle Scout, Civil Air Patrol, etc. Coast Guard Enlisted are promoted to E-2 after the completion of boot camp, and while advancement to E-3 is virtually automatic, an E-2 is has certain performance qualifications and nonresident exams required before a recruit is eligible.

In addition, members must have their commanding officer’s approval and six months time-in-grade or have completed technical training to qualify for E-3. In some cases, you may also be eligible to advance to E-3 upon graduation from boot camp based on either enlisting for six years or prior military experience.

Some ratings also have a sea time requirement for advancement.

Also Check: How Do Virtual Career Fairs Work

Safer Lives Safer Ships Cleaner Seas

Whatever skills you may have, we can support you in developing a rewarding career that makes a difference and contributes to saving lives.

What we do matters our work affects people every single day. Whether at the beach, coast or sea, people rely on our 24-hour emergency service 365-days a year, whilst our Marine Surveyors operate to ensure high standards of safety for all boat users. Our staff understand the significance of their work and its contribution towards our vision to be the best maritime safety organisation in the world.

Whether you’re starting out on your career journey, changing paths, or joining us as an experienced professional, you’ll play a vital part in improving safety at sea. You could be dispatching search and rescue teams, inspecting ships, ensuring sea-goers are fit and properly qualified, enforcing or shaping maritime law, or developing how we communicate with people on the water.

You’ll have the chance to work in a location convenient for you. The MCA has offices based all around the UK, with our Head Office in Southampton, which has excellent transport links in and around the city.

I lead a team, which builds and maintains the vital communications infrastructure that links people out on the water with HM Coastguard. I feel massively proud to be part of this team ultimately, we save lives at sea.

Rob TownsendHead of Radio, Navigation and Telecoms Services

Coast Guard Basic Training

Want a career in the U.S. Coast Guard?

As in all branches of the military, physical demands can be intense, and so new Coast Guard recruits are rigorously trained and tested at boot camp. The Coast Guard only has one location for enlisted basic training: Coast Guard Training Center Cape May in Cape May, New Jersey.

In addition to strength an endurance requirements , all Coast Guard personnel must be able to demonstrate decent swimming skills at boot camp you can expect to jump off a 5-foot platform into a pool, swim 100 meters, and tread water for five minutes.

Read Also: How To Start In It Career

Path : Direct Commission Aviator

Applying through the Direct Commission Aviator program allows individuals to expect a career as an aviator.

This program is open to pilots from other services.

Officers will execute a permanent change of station and report to their new duty station for a short period of time prior to attending the Direct Commission Aviator course.

The Direct Commission Aviator course is in New London, Connecticut, and is approximately four weeks in length.

The course covers Coast Guard traditions, administration essentials, and programs related to the Coast Guard.

After completing the Direct Commission Aviator course, they will return to their unit.

Direct Commission Aviator officers will transition into flying Coast Guard aircraft and attend the Aviation Training Center in Mobile, Alabama.

This program will result in a five-year active duty service obligation.

This program has additional requirements to the ones listed above:

  • Two years minimum active duty service as an Army Warrant Officer or a commissioned officer in any US Armed Forces, but no more than 10 years of active duty service, with pilot being the primary employment
  • 500 hours of manned, non-flight training/simulator, flight time
  • Approved DD 368 conditional release form
  • Completion of a flight training program

Path : Commissioned Officer

Commissioned Officers can enter into the aviation program after completion of officer training.

To become a Commissioned Officer in the Coast Guard you must either attend the Coast Guard Academy or attend Officer Candidate School.

Coast Guard Academy

The Coast Guard Academy is open to high school graduates who would like to attend college while earning a commission.

It is located in New London, Conn. and has about 300 individuals enrolling annually.

This program results in a bachelors degree and a commission.

Getting into flight school through this path is not guaranteed.

Individuals will compete to get into the aviation program.

Officer Candidate School

Coast Guard Officer Candidate School is 17 weeks long and focuses on providing Coast Guard members with the skills to be adequate leaders.

It is open to civilians or current enlisted members.

Towards the end of Officer Candidate School, individuals will compete for assignments in available areas.

Their progression and success in the program will have an effect on their ability to join the aviation program.

Also Check: Best Degree For Insurance Career

What Happens During A Deployment

Deployment generally refers to an extended assignment away from your home base. Larger Coast Guard cutters may have extended deployments of up to three months or longer during which they patrol and visit other ports. However, mid-size and smaller cutters as well as air assets generally function in and around the home base where your son or daughter is assigned and generally deploy for a few days to a few weeks at a time.

Do I Have Any Choice In Selection Of Location Or Assignments


Every member of the Coast Guard, officer and enlisted alike, request assignments on something similar to an electronic resume. The request may contain several choices final determination of assignment is made by an assignment officer, who must balance the workforce nationwide. Not every location is always available.

Don’t Miss: What Is Career Path Example

The Coast Guard: Past And Present

The modern Coast Guard was established in 1790 as the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service, which enforced customs laws. In 1915, the Revenue Cutter Service merged with the U.S. Life Saving Service to create the Coast Guard. Over time it absorbed more missions, organizations, and authorities, including the U.S. Lighthouse Service in 1939 and the Navigation and Steamboat Inspection Service in 1946. In keeping with these varied backgrounds, the Coast Guard has been in three departments in its history: the Treasury Department from 1790 to 1967, the Department of Transportation from 1967 to 2003, and the Department of Homeland Security from 2003 to the present day.2In addition to its daily operations, the Coast Guard is an armed military servicethe only one outside the Department of Defense and has participated in every major conflict from 1790 until today.3

The Homeland Security Act of 2002, which created DHS, broke apart some agencies and created others. However, it incorporated the Coast Guard under DHS without ceding any of its assets or responsibilities, although it did finally codify its 11 missions in statute .

Create A Permanent Strategy Development Office At Headquarters

Strategy is the input for planning.38There is currently no standing body to provide strategy development continuity across service leadership teams, which change every four years. The Coast Guard has two units that might form the core of a permanent strategy development office, the Emerging Policy Staff and the Commandants Action Group. Both examine emerging issues and make recommendations. Combining these teams and converting them to a permanent strategy development office would provide the continuous cycle of development, evaluation in response to data, and strategy adjustment necessary to achieve strategic change. Both the processes of strategy development, and the strategies themselves must be socialized with the Coast Guards vice admirals , who are all possible candidates for the next commandant and vice commandant. Otherwise, the service runs the risk of abruptly versus smoothly transitioning shifts in strategy every four years.

Don’t Miss: The Highest Paid Career In The World

What Does A Rescue Swimmer Do

When everyone else is heading back in to port because of bad weather, youll be doing the opposite: heading in to harms way.

Rescue swimmers are tasked with doing exactly what you would think rescuing people from rough seas!

The Coast Guard will routinely receive SOS and distress calls in all types of weather.

They are tasked with going out and rescuing people in distress, and do a mighty fine job of it!

In 2017 alone, they were credited with saving over 3,900 lives!

It truly is an honorable and enviable job, and to top it off, they also can serve in some of the coolest places you can think of.

Path : Wilks Flight Initiative

Meet Officer Cadet Jérémie Lemoine

The Wilks Flight Initiative is open to those in the College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative, program.

CSPI is a scholarship program that ends with individuals receiving a guaranteed commission as an officer.

During their senior year of college, individuals can apply for this program.

This program is unique because it allows for applicants to have a guaranteed flight school position, versus those that take the direct OCS path, who have to compete for a position.

This pathway requires a three-year initial active duty service obligation with an eight-year service obligation, for a total of 11 years.

After completing school, WiFI applicants will attend Officer Candidate School prior to flight school.

Additional requirements for this program include:

  • WiFI application interview and three letters of recommendation
  • Take the ASTB test and receive a score of 4 on AQR and 5 on PFAR

Also Check: Career Path To Private Equity

What Does A Coast Guard Helicopter Pilot Do

The US Coast Guard is tasked with a wide variety of responsibilities, but primarily focuses on search and rescue and drug interdiction.

They respond to calls of distress, and will fly in some of the worst weather mother nature throws at them to rescue civilians.

They also will rescue downed military and civilian aviators, and work hand in hand with the other branches of the military.

Drug interdiction involves tracking and intercepting sea going vessels and aircraft that are smuggling in illicit drugs, as well as human trafficking.

Related ArticleUS Army High School To Flight School: How To Get In And More

Direct Commission Officer Programs

The US Coast Guard offers a number of direct commission officer programs that provide civilians the opportunity to become Coast Guard officers. These programs are a great way to enter into a career in the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard offers several direct commission officer programs for college graduates with diverse backgrounds and interests. In order to qualify for a direct commission, you must have a four-year degree from an accredited institution and meet certain experience, academic, and military requirements. You must also be a United States citizen between the ages of 18 and 41.

The Coast Guards officer education programs include opportunities for hands-on training and experience in aviation electronics, machinery technician, information systems technician, and law enforcement. Officers who complete one of these programs are eligible for advanced rank and command positions.

Also Check: Career Paths In The Military

What Do Avionics Electrical Technicians Do

In short, AETs take care of everything relating to avionics systems and the aircraft as a whole.

It is their responsibility to make sure that the avionics systems are able to perform communications, navigation, target acquisition, collision avoidance, and automatic flight-control functions.

AETs also are responsible for conducting routine aircraft inspections and aviation administrative duties, including maintaining the conversion and distribution systems and electrical control.

If necessary, they will fill aircrew positions.

Related ArticleHow To Join The US Military As A Non-Citizen

Naval Architecture And Marine Engineering

Command Philosophy from Flotilla Leadership

NA& ME graduates serve as Coast Guard officers in a wide spectrum of Coast Guard missions and careers. The program provides graduates a solid foundation for professional engineering practice, both in and outside the Coast Guard. Many NA& ME majors go on to pursue post-graduate study in naval architecture, marine engineering, mechanical engineering and other related fields, as well as a wide range of other subjects and degrees.

Read Also: Career Diploma Vs Career Certificate

Share post:



More like this

Administration Of Justice Career Options

About The...

Certified Professional Career Coach Cost

Emotional Intelligence...

Career Paths In The Air Force

Job Growth...

What Are The Career Opportunities In Cyber Security

Chief Information...