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Direct Commission Engineer (DCE)


Civilians, Coast Guard members, and prior service members with a baccalaureate degree in a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) or command, control, communications, computers, cyber, and information technology (C5I) field have the opportunity to compete and apply for a commission through the Direct Commission Engineer (DCE) program.  Some currently enlisted CG members in the MK, EM, DC, AET, IT, or ET ratings with at least an associate degree in a STEM or C5I field of study are also eligible to apply.  CG members in other ratings who have an associate in a STEM, or C5I field and Naval Engineering, Civil Engineering, or C5I experience will be considered on a case-by-case basis.  Active duty CG applicants with only an associate degree must be an E-5 and be Coast Guard Commission TEMP eligible by the panel date, and have more than 4 years of active duty service (at least two in the USCG) by the date of the DCO course they would attend. The DCE program seeks to provide engineers and technologists with leadership opportunities in program management and systems implementation that enable Coast Guard missions.

Initial Assignments and Training:

DCEs work with a Coast Guard assignment officer following selection. The assignment officer will review the individual’s education, experience, and qualifications, in addition to their expressed assignment interests, and assign orders to a position at a Coast Guard operational or field unit that best aligns the selectee’s talents & potential with the needs of the Coast Guard. Following commissioning (which occurs approximately 30 days prior to attending the Direct Commission Officer (DCO) course in New London, Connecticut) new officers will execute permanent change of station (PCS) orders and report directly to their first unit for a brief period. DCEs will then go TDY to the DCO course. The DCO course will be 5 weeks in duration. At DCO training, DCEs receive initial indoctrination to the traditions and programs of the Service, and training on service-specific administration essentials needed for their success as a commissioned officer in the Coast Guard.  Following completion of DCO training, DCEs will return to their unit.

CG Naval Engineering Assignments: Assignments will be influenced by the selectee’s specific degree, training, experience, and desires, but is ultimately determined by the needs of the service.  Selectees will be assigned to one of the following fields:

  • Surface Forces Logistics Center (SFLC). Positions at this command include shore side support billets such as Port Engineer, Availability Project Manager, Quality Assurance Inspector, Maintenance Integrator, Asset Manager, and other shore side support positions. These jobs work directly with the Coast Guards legacy and modern surface assets including Icebreakers, National Security Cutters, Fast Response Cutters, and soon to be Offshore Patrol Cutters, and Polar Security Cutters.
  • Student Engineer Afloat Positions: Opportunities exist to serve aboard a Coast Guard cutter as a student Naval Engineer within the cutters Engineering Department. These jobs provide the ability to work on some of the most technologically advanced engineering machinery in service today on-board the Coast Guards most modern surface assets.
  • Coast Guard Yard Industrial Positions: Opportunities exist to be an integral part of the Coast Guard Yards proud 119 year heritage and essential member of the Coast Guards largest organic shipyard repair facility. The Coast Guard Yard works on nearly every Coast Guard surface asset and is continually expanding its capabilities to meet the services shipyard repair needs well into the future.
  • Coast Guard Industrial Operations: Opportunities exist to serve within the Coast Guard's National Industrial Enterprise managing repair work on Coast Guard surface vessels and engineering components.
  • Acquisition Program Offices and Project Resident Offices: Exciting opportunities exist to serve as part of the Coast Guard's newest surface acquisition programs to include the National Security Cutter, Fast Response Cutter, Offshore Patrol Cutter, Polar Security Cuter, and Waterways Commerce Cutter programs.
  • Coast Guard Headquarters: Opportunities exist to serve in the Office of Naval Engineering where you will directly influence enterprise level policy, program, and organizational management initiatives.

CG Civil Engineering Assignments: Assignments will be influenced by the selectee’s specific degree, training, experience, and desires, but is ultimately determined by the needs of the service. Selectees will be assigned to one of the following fields:

  • Civil Engineering Unit (CEU): Serve as part of the six regional Civil Engineering offices throughout the Coast Guard executing depot level maintenance projects. This is the most common assignment for a new Civil Engineering officer.
  • Facilities Engineering: An integral part of the management of facilities with a hands on role overseeing the day to day operation of the Bases, Training Centers, and Air Stations.
  • Shore Infrastructure Logistics Center (SILC): Positions at this command execute program priorities through creating procedures, and overseeing the CEUs.
  • Facilities Design and Construction Center (FDCC): Execute all new construction projects throughout the Coast Guard. FDCC is responsible for all phases of project execution including planning, design, contracting, and construction.
  • Coast Guard Headquarters: Serve in the Office of Civil Engineering directly influencing enterprise level policy, program, and organizational management initiatives.

CG C5I assignments: Assignments will be influenced by the selectee’s specific degree, training, experience, and desires, but is ultimately determined by the needs of the service. Selectees will be assigned to one of the following fields:

  • C5I Service Center (C5ISC), Center of Excellence (COE): This is the most common initial assignment where DCEs will engineer and support CG C5I systems.
  • C5I Staff Positions: C5I officers form and execute the CG’s C5I strategic vision and policy. 
  • CG C5I Field Positions: DCEs will provide front line support to units executing CG missions.

Career Path:

Following Initial Assignments, DCE selectees can anticipate broadening their experience within the Naval Engineering, Civil Engineering, or C5I communities, with increasing levels of leadership and management exposure with progression in rank. Likewise, DCE officers may have opportunities for special assignments, mission support assignments, Command Cadre afloat/ashore, and graduate school opportunities.

DCE Eligibility Requirements:

  1. Age: Have reached your 21st but not your 42nd birthday as of 30 September of the fiscal year in which the selection panel convenes.
  2. Character Standards:
    • All applicants must be of outstanding moral character.
    • Applicants currently in the Coast Guard: Applicants are ineligible for commissioning if in the 36 months prior to the first DCO class panel date in the selection cycle, they have been convicted by a court-martial, been awarded non-judicial punishment (NJP), received an “Unsatisfactory” conduct mark, received a negative Administrative Remarks, or been involved in an alcohol-related incident.
  3. Citizenship: Must be a U.S. Citizen.
  4. Clearance: Must be eligible for a Secret Clearance.
  5. Dependency:
    • May not have more than 3 dependents (your spouse is considered your dependent, regardless of military status).
    • Coast Guard active duty applicants, E-5 and above, with a minimum  of four years active military service (excluding active duty for training), at least two years of which must be Coast Guard active duty service may have sole or primary custody of dependents.
    • All eligible applicants must provide a dependent care plan with an indefinite general Power of Attorney.
  6. Education and GPA:
    • Must have a 2.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale.
    • To apply for this program, individuals must have a qualifying degree in one of the academic degree fields listed below:
      • Naval Engineering Specialty.
        Naval Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Fire Protection Engineering, Naval Architecture Engineering, Industrial Operations, or Industrial Administration.
      • Civil Engineering Specialty.
        Civil Engineering, Architecture, Environmental Engineering, Construction Management, Ocean Engineering, electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, or Engineering Management.
      • C5I Specialty.
        Communications Engineering, Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Command and Control, Electrical Engineering, Information Technology, Information Systems, Network Engineering, Software Engineering, Systems Engineering, Telecommunications Engineering.
    • College Seniors: are eligible to apply if all of the below are met:
      • Baccalaureate degree will be conferred prior to commissioning date, which will occur approximately 30 days prior to the first DCO course convening for which the panel is making selections.
      • The applicant provides an official letter from their college registrar certifying their enrollment, degree, major, GPA, and anticipated date of graduation.
    • Foreign Degrees: Applicants who have degrees conferred by a foreign school shall include in their application a course-by-course assessment from an organization such as Education Credential Evaluators, in addition to the inclusion of the translation of their degree (if in a language other than English).
    • Coast Guard Member Stipulations: Current CG enlisted members E-5 and above in the MK, DC, AET, ET, IT, or EM ratings with at least an associate degree in a STEM or C5I discipline are eligible. Other CG enlisted members E-5 and above with at least an A.S. degree in a STEM or C5I discipline, and practical work experience in the Naval Engineering, Civil Engineering, or C5I arenas, are eligible on a case by case basis. The associate degree must be conferred by the application deadline.  Members must make E-5 by the panel date and be Coast Guard Commission TEMP eligible, and must also have at least 4 years of active duty service (2 of which must be in the USCG) by the panel convening date.
    • Stipulations applying to all applicants and all degrees:
      • At least 50% of core Naval Engineering/Civil Engineering/C5I curriculum must be actual coursework, not converted work experience.  
      • Management degrees with a systems engineering, engineering management, or C5I concentration may be considered, if they meet the 50% requirement stated above.
  7. Financial: Must meet all financial obligations, and not have a debt to income ratio in excess of 80% (ratio of debt to projected income at applicant’s highest accession level, e.g., O-1, O-2E, etc., as applicable).
    • Must not have filed for bankruptcy in the last 10 years.
    • Student Loans: applicants shall also disclose to their recruiter any student loan payments that are in deferment, and the anticipated date and amount of repayment of those loans.
  8. Interview: DCE applicants must receive the recommendation of a Coast Guard Interview Board.
  9. Military Service: (all of the below must apply)
    • Not required.
    • Max Active Duty Service: Have less than 10 years of non-Coast Guard active-duty military service as of commissioning date, which is equivalent to the date that the applicant, if selected, will take their oath of office.
    • Conditional Release: Members currently in or under obligation to another military service (active or reserve) and CG reservists (any Reserve Component Category) must furnish an approved DD-368 form (conditional release) in their application package.  
      • Release approval (validity) period: The release shall be valid, at a minimum, through the date of the panel for which the applicant is applying.  Ideally, the release should be valid through the projected accession date for that panel.
      • CG Active Duty enlisted members: do not need a conditional release.
      • CG Reserve members (any Reserve Component Category): Recruiters shall submit the DD-368 (with only Section I complete) to CG RC Accessions Branch at
      • Members of Other Military Services: The applicant shall submit the DD-368 (with Section I complete) through their chain of command to their services’ authorizing official (which is different for each service).  Once approved, the DD-368 and any other approval documents, e.g., Service Memorandum, shall be submitted in the application package. 
      • Contact CG RC at if there are any questions regarding Conditional Release submission.
    • Coast Guard Officer Eligibility: 
      • ADPL Officers: Applicants currently holding a commission in the Coast Guard or Coast Guard Reserve who are on the Active Duty Promotion List (ADPL) are not eligible to apply.  
      • IDPL Officers: If an officer on the Inactive Duty Promotion List (IDPL) meets the eligibility criteria, he/she may apply for the program, provided a conditional release, approved by CG PSC-RPM, is included in the application package.
    • Commissioned Officers: who have been separated or removed from active duty from any Service as a result of non-selection for promotion, extension, or integration may not apply for any Coast Guard commissioning program.
  10. Physical Examination (Medical): Must pass a commissioning physical (including):
    • Normal Color Vision
    • Meet height/weight standards:
      • CG members: Must meet MAW or Body Fat standards as per COMDTINST M1020.8 (series)
      • Physical Fitness Program: DCEs shall complete a structured physical fitness program while at DCO School.
  11. Test Score: There is no test-score requirement for the DCE program.
  12. Tattoos: Applicants may not have tattoos or body markings that are inconsistent with the CG tattoo, body marking, body piercing, and mutilation policy. 
  13. DCO Pre-Reporting Guide: Applicants must have read and understood the DCO Pre-Reporting Guide.
  14. Program Specific Requirements: Applicants should provide copies of current Naval Engineering, Civil Engineering, or C5I relevant credentials as a separate element in their application.
  15. DCO Pre-Reporting Guide: Applicants must have read and understood the DCO Pre-Reporting Guide.

DCE Appointment Grades and Term of Service:

  1. Selected applicants will receive a 3-year active duty obligation.
  2. Selectees will receive a temporary or reserve commission as an active duty Ensign (O-1/O-1E) a Lieutenant Junior Grade (O-2/O-2E) or a Lieutenant (O-3/O-3E) in the U. S. Coast Guard or Coast Guard Reserve.

Application Process:

If you are ready to apply, you must contact a Coast Guard recruiter to begin the application process. Us the link to locate your closest Recruiting Office.