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Why Join

You’ve completed the first steps of the process, and you’re now qualified to enlist. At this point, your recruiter will work on completing your enlisted application.

Active Duty (Full-time)

Active-duty Guardsmen

If you plan to enlist in the active duty Coast Guard, you’re almost there. The final steps in the process include:

  • Incentives. Your recruiter will determine if you qualify for any hiring incentives such as bonuses or guaranteed specialty training.
  • Application. Your recruiter will submit your application through their supervisor to Coast Guard Recruiting Command.
  • Result. You’ll receive either notification to resolve any issues discovered, or a final determination on your application.
  • Reservation. If approved, you’ll be assigned a date to ship out to recruit basic training, and your recruiter will prepare an enlistment contract for you to sign.

Reserve (Part-time)

Enlisting in the Coast Guard Reserve follows nearly the same process as active duty, but with a few additional considerations.


You’ll need to fit into one of the specific reserve accession programs. Depending on the program, you’ll either be approved to directly enter a specialty or assigned to a specialty training class:

  • RA: Applicants who have completed some college credits and will be assigned to Coast Guard specialty training.
  • RX: Experienced professionals whose skills already translate to a Coast Guard specialty.
  • RK: Full-time students who need Coast Guard specialty training to fit their academic schedule.
  • RQ and RN: Prior military service applicants.


To join the Reserve, there must be an assignment that matches your location and specialty. Your recruiter will help find one.

English Language Training Program

If you have what it takes to serve in the Coast Guard, don’t let language skills stand in your way of pursuing new opportunities. The Coast Guard now has English proficiency training available for otherwise qualified applicants. If English is not your native language, you will take the English comprehension level exam when processing at MEPS. A score of 75 is required for regular boot camp. However, applicants with scores between 45–74 can enlist and complete an English proficiency course at the Defense Language Institute English Language Center in San Antonio, TX, before beginning basic training.

Spanish-speaking Recruiters

The following offices have recruiters who are certified Spanish linguists. Additional offices may have native speakers on staff.

  • Corpus Christi: AMT1 Sierra
  • El Paso: MK1 Cortez and SK2 Linares-Posadas
  • Fresno: YNC Gutierrez
  • Miami: YN1 Rosero
  • New Orleans: MECS Molina
  • San Juan: YN1 Galarza
  • Tampa: IS1 Perez-Bas

Basic Training

Inside view of basic training

The Coast Guard’s only enlisted basic training is held at the Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May, NJ. You'll be challenged mentally and physically every day. You'll be pushed, tested, and worked harder than you ever thought possible. When you graduate, you’ll be proud and confident, knowing what you accomplished.