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Coast Guard Career Paths

Serving as an officer in the Coast Guard is different from serving in any other military branch. You are charged to be a law enforcement officer and sailor, humanitarian and defender, regulator, steward of the environment, diplomat, and guardian of the coast. With so many roles to fill, it’s no surprise that the Coast Guard offers many opportunities for professional specialization.

Operations specialists carry out the missions of the Coast Guard in the field. Careers include:

As a sea-going officer, you lead ship-board operations on USCG cutters. These officers, from apprentice Deck Watch Officers to command cadre, are responsible for the safe navigation of the ship and prosecution of all assigned missions worldwide.
As a Coast Guard aviator, you will fly fixed or rotary wing aircraft, homebased in 24 air stations in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. These officers, from co-pilot to instructor pilot and command cadre, are responsible for the safety of their aircraft and crew, and the prosecution of all assigned missions worldwide.

In this specialty you will coordinate and execute Coast Guard response operations from command and control centers ashore. These range in size from a regional Sector to the Pacific Area Command Center encompassing seven continents, 71 countries, and 74 million square miles of ocean. You direct government and private sector assets to carry out all Coast Guard responsibilities in your area of operations.

As an officer in this specialty, you will prevent accidents from happening. Start as a vessel inspector then broaden your knowledge and skill to develop and enforce regulations for facilities; lead investigations; enforce waterway safety and security standards; and conduct waterway analyses.

As a cyber officer you are trained, cleared, and qualified to build, operate, and protect Coast Guard and U.S. cyberspace assets including classified and national security networks; conduct intelligence activities; enable future operations; and project power using cyberspace.
As an Intelligence Officer, you will collect, analyze, process, and disseminate intelligence information, to make Coast Guard operations more effective, often collaborating with other intelligence entities.

Support specialists deliver resources needed in the field.

As a Naval Engineer, you will be responsible for the design, construction, replacement, operation, and maintenance of ships and boats. Highly trained naval engineers ensure the Coast Guard conducts missions seamlessly.
As a Civil Engineer, you will manage the shore infrastructure for the Coast Guard. You will also manage the entire life cycle of real property by planning, budgeting, designing, building, operating, and maintaining, land, buildings, and structures.

These specialists are the focal point for technical and logistics support for aviation systems and equipment. As an Aeronautical Engineer, you will keep the Coast Guard in the air through avionics systems acquisition, planning, design, operation, maintenance, and alteration of systems and aircraft.

As an IT specialist you will design, build, configure, operate, maintain, and integrate IT networks and capabilities including classified and national security networks.

As a Financial Manager, you will control the fiscal assets of the Coast Guard. You will create budgets, spend and account for money, conduct audits and manage inventory.

As a member of the Coast Guard legal program (CGJAG), you will be actively engaged in every facet of Coast Guard regulatory matters, operations, and support, from law enforcement to disaster response, from intelligence operations to marine safety and security. CGJAG provides commanders a decision-making advantage across the full spectrum of Coast Guard activities.

Special Experience Credentials

Like many officers, you may choose to develop expertise in secondary areas of specialization in addition to your primary career path in Operations or Support.

Leading multi-agency emergency operations using specialized skills earned through certification in a national management structure called the Incident Command System.
Managing the law, policy, and operations used by the Coast Guard to protect marine species and habitats.
Exercising specialized tactical, operational and strategic skills to support the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense in protecting and defending the nation.
Discerning quantifiable patterns and using the results to optimize outcomes.
Carrying out the Coast Guard’s international strategy through foreign governments, and U.S. agencies including the Departments of Defense and State.
Engaging and communicating effectively with audiences outside the Coast Guard
At the organizational level, budgeting, planning, assessing risk, evaluating policy and programs, and improving performance and efficiency. Making resource plans, and executive decisions.
Acquiring the major platforms, technology, and assets used by the Coast Guard.
Providing the right people with the right skills and experience, at the right place and time to accomplish missions.
Reviewing, evaluating, and reducing hazards in various work environments.
Applying science and technology to improve human performance and system outcomes.

Challenge and Growth

The Coast Guard continually challenges its officer corps through new, more responsible assignments every 2-4 years. Each assignment provides new duties, environments and unique opportunities that result in rapid growth, development, and the opportunity to live a life of purpose.

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