How hard is it to join?
In order to join the Coast Guard, you must not only meet qualification criteria, but also meet a whole person evaluation. You must sincerely desire to serve your country and develop your leadership and professional potential.
Think of your meeting with a recruiter as a job interview, where your personal skills and attributes will be evaluated and compared with other eligible job applicants. Your recruiter will work with you to fill out a variety of forms that validate your eligibility. You must honestly answer all questions and provide supporting documentation/ information.
The qualification criteria include:
- You must be a U.S. citizen or a resident alien.
- You also must be between 17-35 (If you are 17, you'll need parental consent.) though some reserve and officer programs allow you to be older.
- Reservists must be between ages 17-40. Prior-service personnel should contact their local recruiter for specific programs.
- You must have a high school diploma. GEDs are accepted in rare circumstances.
- You can have no more than three dependents.
As part of the recruitment process, you will have to pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test and a military entrance medical exam.
You will also be subject to a police background check and as with other military services; felony convictions will disqualify you from consideration. Your credit will also be evaluated.
The whole person evaluation considers your attitude, professionalism, honesty, respect, language proficiency, height/weight, physical abilities, and work ethic.
As the first step in the process, we recommend you complete the APPLY NOW form on gocoastguard.com. Your information will be forwarded to your local recruiting office. You will also receive an email verifying that your information has been forwarded. However, our recruiters are very busy and it may take up to 72 hours to contact you. If you don't hear back within 72 hours. Because of the personal/sensitive nature of the information you've submitted, only limited individuals have access to it. You do not need to reapply but simply go into the general chat forum to discuss your issue or concern.
How do I learn more about the Coast Guard?
For more information, please fill out the request form.
As a member of the Coast Guard, do I get paid time off for maternity leave?
The Coast Guard is proud to have fully integrated women in our operations at all echelons since 1978. The Coast Guard recognizes that our mission readiness is directly tied to the health and well-being of our service members and that childbirth can be a challenge for women in the service. Accordingly, the Commandant has directed eligible members be authorized up to 12 weeks of maternity leave following the birth of a child.
Can my son or daughter attend religious services?
The Coast Guard does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, or religion. Members are allowed to participate in religious services as the mission permits.
How can my son or daughter prepare for basic training?
Their recruiter will provide instructions regarding both physical and mental preparation for basic training. They will also receive a copy of the Helmsman, a recruit guidebook, which details items that they can and cannot bring to basic training. The recruiter will help guide your son or daughter through the process. You can learn more about physically preparing for basic training by going to the following link.
How will I communicate with my son or daughter?
During boot camp, letters are welcome, but care packages are not. Phone calls are not permitted unless it is an emergency. If there is a family emergency, you should contact your local Red Cross office who can relay messages to military personnel worldwide. Upon arrival at Cape May, a letter from the Commanding Officer is sent home by each recruit within the first few days of entering recruit training. In later weeks of basic training, recruits may be allowed to use pay phones at the discretion of their company commander. You are invited and encouraged to attend their graduation from basic training. After graduation and assignment to a unit, they can communicate with you during non-duty hours as they wish.
What are the enlistment options for my son or daughter?
Your son or daughter can join on a full time (active duty) or part time (reserve) basis. Depending upon their citizenship, education level, or prior-military service, they may enter at either the enlisted or officer level. Potential enlisted members must have a high school degree or equivalent. Officer candidates must have or be working toward a college degree. Active-duty enlistees and officer candidates can select from among a variety of job specialties. Many officer programs are available targeting college sophomores and juniors, college graduates, those with professional degrees and aviation training, and current Coast Guard enlisted personnel with college degrees.
What are the qualifications to join the Coast Guard?
Following are the basic requirements for becoming a member of the Coast Guard:
- You must be a U.S. citizen or a Resident Alien.
- Be between the ages of 17-35.
- Reservists must be between 17-40. Prior-service personnel should contact their local recruiter for specific programs.
- Have a high school diploma. GEDs are accepted in special circumstances.
- Have no more than three dependents.
- Pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test.
- Pass a military entrance medical exam.
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.
What is a Port Security Unit (PSU)?
Port Security Units (PSUs) are expeditionary forces primarily responsible for providing the Department of Defense layered defensive protection utilizing both waterside and landside security forces. The PSUs can also provide limited domestic support to Captains of the Port in executing port security operations. To learn more, watch this short video.
What is a typical day like in the Coast Guard?
It really depends on the type of unit. Life at a small boat station is much different than life on a ship. Most boot camp graduates will receive orders either to a ship or a small boat station. At this point, they will start to perform the duties of a crewman at their unit. They must learn everything about their ship or small boat station. They may be assisting with law enforcement, working aids to navigation, conducting search and rescue, or responding to a natural disaster. Regardless of the unit, Coast Guard men and women live to uphold the motto Semper Paratus... always ready.
What is the difference between active duty and reserve service?
Active-duty service is a full-time commitment for the period of the enlistment while reserve service is a part-time commitment, 2 days a month and 2 weeks a year. Please note that reservists are subject to active-duty activation in times of national need.
What kind of training will my son or daughter receive?
Basic training is tough. It's eight weeks of physical and mental challenges. We want to shape an individual into a fully prepared Coast Guardsman, who can take charge and react in the most harrowing situations. Upon graduation, he or she will be a stronger mentally and physically. After boot camp they will receive additional training depending upon their job specialty and enlistment status as either active duty or reserve.
What kinds of benefits does the Coast Guard provide?
All incoming Coast Guardsmen earn a competitive salary based on rank and additional benefits that are hard for young people to come by in the civilian world like free medical, dental and eye care, and for active - duty members, possible housing, meal and uniform allowances.
What kinds of jobs and training are available?
What will happen when I fill out the APPLY NOW page?
Your information will be forwarded to your local recruiting office. You will also receive an email verifying that your information has been forwarded. However, our recruiters are very busy and it may take up to 72 hours to contact you. If you don't hear back within 72 hours, it is recommended that you click here to speak with a chat representative. Because of the personal/sensitive nature of the information you've submitted, only limited individuals have access to it. You do not need to reapply but simply go into the general chat forum to discuss your issue or concern.
Are there credentialing opportunities for the skills I learn in the Coast Guard?
Credentials can have a significant impact on a Coast Guard service member's career. Coast Guard training often aligns closely to civilian credentials. By visiting https://www.cool.osd.mil/uscg/index.html, you'll be able to view COOL’s unique features that will culminate into a better understanding of the credentialing, certifications, and licenses options along with the steps to earn credentials.
There is no cap on the number of credentials that can be obtained and the Coast Guard will support service members in identifying the various sources for funding credential, licensure, and certification renewals as part of the benefits package of military service.