Coast Guard Officer Careers

Discussion in 'Coast Guard Academy - USCGA' started by Army2022Hopeful, Aug 18, 2017.

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  1. Army2022Hopeful

    Army2022Hopeful Member

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    I'm currently an upcoming senior applying for USCGA class of 2022. Does anyone have a specific list or have a solid idea of what all the coast guard officer careers are? I have tried using the Coast Guard website, but can only find broad categories of what coast guard officers do (for example, environmental protection, law enforcement). I understand that about ten percent of all CGA graduates go on to pilot training, but what does the other 90% do?
    Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. USCGA13STN

    USCGA13STN 5-Year Member

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    Since nobody has gotten back to you, let me take a crack at this one:

    (A caveat here; I am by trade a cutter guy, so the information there may be more complete than the other sections).
    1. The Coast Guard, as you may have imagined, has a variety of career opportunities at SEA (where you get to drive a ship... which is awesome):
      1. Red Hull Community
        1. This is really limited to three cutters - POLAR STAR, HEALY and MACKINAW. These cutters are in the business of cutting through ice; they deploy to the Arctic (STAR and HEALY), Antarctic (STAR) and Great Lakes (MACKINAW). Notably the MACKINAW has a dual purpose... but more on that later.
      2. White Hull Community
        1. The majority of your cutters, and by extension Cuttermen (officers and enlisted personnel who serve at sea), serve on White Hulled vessels. These vessels are tasked with everything from Search and Rescue, Enforcement of Laws and Treaties, Fisheries, Migrant Interdiction and Drug Smuggling prevention. In simpler and much reduced terms - these are your primary seagoing law enforcement platform.
        2. The sizes of these boats range from 87' to 418' and there are officers on almost every one.
      3. Black Hull Community
        1. These are your buoy tenders; they are responsible for maintaining the aids to navigations and waterways of the US. Depending on where they are located, they will also do some sort of law enforcement and/or MARPOL response. They are multi-mission assets like the white hulls, but they're PRIMARY mission is tending to buoys.
        2. I mentioned the MACKINAW having a dual purpose earlier; she is also a buoy tender.
        3. Virtually every black hull is also a light ice breaker; used in rivers, harbors etc.
    2. In addition to opportunities at sea the Coast Guard also has opportunities in the AIR:
      1. Rotary Wings
        1. These would be your helicopters there are currently two types in the Coast Guard 60s and 65s
        2. Helos are primarily responsible for Search and Rescue, however when deployed as an AVDET to a cutter they can be used to spot and chase drug runners and migrant boats.
        3. Also you get to fly a helicopter, which I have been told is pretty cool.
      2. Fixed Wings
        1. You have C-130s (H and J series) as well as the CASA.
        2. These units are used for long range search and rescue, as well as for intel collection and general transportation.
        3. There may be other uses; most of my pilot friends are Helo pilots.
    3. In addition to the sea and air, the Coast Guard has opportunities ASHORE:
      1. Response Ashore:
        1. Response Ashore is a field almost as varied as the cutter community. Possible jobs include organizing boardings, managing small boat stations, coordinating multi-national/multi-service operations etc.
        2. There is a lot of cool stuff in response ashore; I'll let others in this forum fill you in on that.
      2. Planning/Prevention:
        1. Inspections
          1. Inspections is exactly what it sounds like; inspecting vessels and shoreside facilities for compliance with Coast Guard and federal policy. These guys are the unsung heroes of the Coast Guard. Whereas most of the rest of the CG responds to casualties, these guys work to prevent them.
        2. IMD
          1. I know they exist... someone else can fill you in here.


    I hope this helps map things out a little bit for you. Mind you there are still a variety of other jobs that aren't included here; these don't include staff tours, special assignments, grad school, payback tours or anything else like that. There are as many different options as there are Coasties and no two options look exactly alike.

    A final food for thought. At graduation your numbers look approximately like this:

    5% -> Straight to Ashore billets
    10% -> Direct to Flight School
    85% -> Underway

    If you start off ashore or aviation, you will be stuck there the rest of your career. If you go afloat first, you have an opportunity to lateral over to the other specialities.


    Best of luck in your application process!
     
  3. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006 10-Year Member

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    Above you see the "operational" track for careers. There are also, kinda-sorta "staff" tracks. Often your career will alternate between these two tracks (there can be some variation).
     
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  4. Army2022Hopeful

    Army2022Hopeful Member

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    Thank you for your responses. This information truly helps a lot when writing my admissions essays and helps me better understand the nature of the US Coast Guard.
     
  5. USCGA13STN

    USCGA13STN 5-Year Member

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    I don't think it's even possible to list out all the variations in possible staff tours. Too many!
     
  6. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006 10-Year Member

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    Exactly.... and not as fixed.
     
  7. vmi9d3

    vmi9d3 Member

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    Great synopsis of the Operational or Mission side of the CG but a majority of the CG is providing Mission Support. Specialties such as Naval Eng, Civil Eng, or C4IT ensure the Mission can happen and support it as it is happening. Several individuals have a specialties in both Operations and Missions support as previously mentioned by Lineinthesand, but 'staff' is not a specialty. Don't forget about Personnel, Acquisition, and Lawyers.
     
  8. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006 10-Year Member

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    Forget about lawyers!!! Hahaha

    That's right. Staff is used VERY loosely. Also, the more senior you are the more things start to develop. Many operational or staff assignments can build on each other.

    My first tour was as a deck watch officer on a white hull. I was also a collateral duty public affairs officer. My next tour, which was a staff tour, was as a public affairs officer.

    If you look at the hurricane response, you'll see a three star admiral and a captain providing briefings. A Lt. Commander coordinates the briefings. That guy is Lt. Cmdr. Scott McBride, a guy with a public affairs background (and a USNA grad). The three star admiral is the Atlantic Area commander... he is also a past Director of Governmental and Public Affairs for the Coast Guard. The captain is the CO of the air station (and is the incident commander). He is also the past chief of public affairs for the Coast Guard. The admiral and captain are CGA grads.

    Those past staff experiences only help them in their current positions.
     
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  9. mswmommy

    mswmommy Member

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    I don't know if this interactive video on Coast Guard Officer Careers would be helpful for your purposes but it's fun to watch! http://www.youvisit.com/tour/uscga/138289?tourid=tour1
     
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  10. MuniMan24

    MuniMan24 Member

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    Hi @LineInTheSand, I realize that this post is old, but thought I might try to ask a related question.

    As a deck watch officer, what are your responsibilities? How long is this role held?

    Thanks so much for any answers!
     
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  11. Impulsive

    Impulsive Member

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    Things have probably changed since my time, but (and I will qualify this with it was a while ago), DWO's are responsible for the safe navigation and operation of the vessel when underway. They are the CO's representative on the bridge when the CO is not up there, and can have very varied responsibilities granted by the CO as to latitude in changes in vessel speed, communications, course changes, prosecuting targets, managing other personnel on watch, responding to casualties (engineering and personnel), and just about anything else related to the operation and safety of the cutter (including Un-Rep and Flight Ops). In port the junior DWO's will likely also stand in-port OOD meaning they are acting on behalf of the CO when in port, and usually have control over all other watch standers in port and are responsible for every aspect of the ship while on duty, and are the leader of the "Duty Section", which depending on the size of the cutter can be a lot of different people performing a lot of different duties all over the ship. Both DWO and OOD are Highly Responsible Positions, and you need to know your people, regulations, and Captains Orders or you can get in trouble rather quickly.

    Junior Officers also will also be assigned "Collateral Duties" which can anything from Public Affairs Officer, to Laundry Officer, to Morale Officer and so forth. As Junior Officers they will likely (if on a Law Enforcement Duty) be assigned as Boarding Officer or part of the Boarding Team, boarding vessels in different weather conditions, day and night, and in high stress situations.

    Usually afloat tours are for two years (at least they were). Depending on the type of cutter you could be underway for less than a week at a time or three months at a time and anything in between.
     
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  12. USCG Master

    USCG Master USCG 100 Ton Master

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    My advice would be pick a major that fits within the multiple missions of the USCG. Especially if you desire a long career. For example, if you get a major in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. There is no USCG career for that major. The USCG does not build ships.
     
  13. ekb1398

    ekb1398 Member

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    This is simply not true. The Coast Guard might not build them, but we do purchase them. We inspect vessels of all types. We create regulations for the shipping industry. We oversee salvage operations. The list goes on and on. The two most applicable and in the public eye examples of NA&ME engineering careers are Naval Engineering and Marine Safety. Both closely related to NA&ME.

    Furthermore, though, I'd like to point out that billets are not specifically designated by major. There is nothing that precludes a NAME major from working on Capitol Hill or a government major from getting into Naval Engineering. It tends not to be common because the interests don't necessarily align, but it can happen.
     
  14. USCG Master

    USCG Master USCG 100 Ton Master

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    That is a very good point!
     
  15. AuxNoob

    AuxNoob CGA Admissions Partner 5-Year Member

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    My son is NA&ME. His original career path was Engineering Officer. There is no reason other majors can't follow that path (e.g. Civ, I know at least one off hand). Due to a medical issue right now he is shore side doing logistics. He is involved in getting parts to and fixing cutters from afar. So his major was intended to follow a specific path, but he is doing related at the moment. He is hoping for his next assignment to be another shore side engineering billet. There is nothing stopping him from applying for flight school (other than not interested).