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Why Join

Joining the United States Coast Guard is a life-changing decision. Before you apply, make sure you understand the process. These helpful tips will make your application process easier.

1. Contact a Recruiter

For help with your decision, first reach out to a Coast Guard recruiter to discuss your interest. You can do this on our website, by phone, or email.

2. Interview & Screening

When you connect with your recruiter, be prepared to discuss your goals. You will learn about opportunities that best fit your goals, and your recruiter will ensure you meet the basic requirements to join. If you both agree joining the Coast Guard is the right decision for you, you'll begin your new journey. Review eligibility criteria here.

3. Testing & Examination

The first big steps include a standardized test and a physical exam administered by a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS).


The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is used by all military branches to qualify for enlistment, and will also give you an idea of what jobs you are most suited for. If you haven’t already taken it, a practice test can predict how you’ll score. The minimum ASVAB AFQT score for enlisting in the U.S. Coast Guard is 36. Officer programs have different standardized test requirements.

Physical Exam

A complete medical exam and drug test at MEPS ensures that you meet service medical standards. Prior to scheduling your exam, you’ll need to submit a detailed, well-documented medical history for MEPS to review.

4. Background Check

Once you have a qualifying ASVAB score and medical exam, your recruiter will ensure all other qualifications are met, such as criminal background and credit checks. At this point, your path will change based on what program you’re applying to. Active duty enlisted, reserve enlisted, and officer applications have different procedures. One of the last steps in the process will be a national security background check. 

Helpful Tips

  • Build a relationship with your recruiter early. Your recruiter will have the most up-to-date information and is experienced at walking applicants efficiently through the hiring process.  
  • Do research. Review the qualifications and eligibility requirements for joining. Look at what careers and programs match your personal goals.
  • Focus on fitness. To improve your chances of being approved for service, you should commit to a healthy, fit lifestyle as soon as you consider joining. Don’t wait.
  • Treat it like a job interview. Your professionalism and integrity will be evaluated by your recruiter. Present your best self. Only those applicants who behave in a way that upholds the Coast Guard’s values—honor, respect, and devotion to duty—will be accepted. 
  • Stay organized. You own your application, so you must make sure it’s complete, accurate, and timely. You may need to collect detailed documentation. Keep your important documents in a safe and accessible place. Make sure you meet the deadlines set by your recruiter.