Looking into USCGA... Careers After Grad?


Jun 11, 2018
Howdy y’all,
Yesterday I started looking into USCGA as my plan B and I’m already starting to really like it :popcorn1: (maybe it will turn in to plan A?)

I am interested in the “drug interdiction” career, but would like to get a better idea of their duties as officers. Are there traveling or deployment opportunities? If you have experience (or any input) I would appreciate it!

Edit: Also, why did you choose to pursue USCGA?
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Just FYI.....almost all of the Law Enforcement positions in the CG are enlisted. There are a few Junior Officer "Boarding Officers" to learn the methods of search, inspection, and crew control, but once you make O-3 you will pretty much be on the supervisory end. Like a Commanding Officer of a Cutter or Shore Unit directing enlisted personnel and processing SNO's. Doing Law Enforcement is basically enlisted, even CGIS does not have academy grads but rather Warrant Officers and Civilian GS-1811 Criminal Investigators. IMHO. the closest you get to a "Drug Interdiction" career as an Academy Grad is JAG, and 80% of the CG JAG's are Direct Commission, so if you really want "hands on" Drug Interdiction enlist and become a BM or ME, the CG has specialized schools for both. then advance to Warrant Officer, join CGIS and do Criminal Investigations.

ALL USCG Petty Officers, Warrant Officers, and Commissioned Officers are by definition "Federal Law Enforcement Officers", but how much "hands on" they do depends on the unit and rank, even the senior enlisted don't do a whole lot of "actual" Drug Interdiction" boardings and arrests/seizures. Just my personal thoughts. I loved my time in the CG, wanted the same thing you do, but investigated and was told NOT to go Officer because they really are not hands on L/E types. I turned down OCS when I was in because I would not be driving boats and doing boardings anymore. Just something to think about.
@US21 what is your plan A?

Although I am still exploring different career paths, I want a really active job where I make as big of an impact as possible and lead others. I have gone to USNA SS and really enjoyed it (Marine Corps/SEAL path) so USNA is my plan A.
I still plan to tour USCGA and USMA as well though. The big thing it boils down to is what I will be doing AFTER graduation. I am in no rush to settle down, so looking for something active and impactful to greatest degree.
IMHO the most "active" and exciting adrenaline pumping jobs out there are probably "Special Forces", "Marine Recon", "SEALS" and "Pararescue" for Commissioned Officers. Something to probably think about are Commissioned Officers are leaders, supervisors, and administrators, especially as you advance you get less and less "hands on" of anything. Naval SWO's, CG Deck Officers, and most shoreside Officers are not actively doing the most exciting jobs unless you are in a "speciality" that requires it, and then it is usually only the more junior officers that actually go out and do the exciting stuff. Like I said earlier, even if you go enlisted, at some point you advance high enough that you get more into the admin and supervisory stuff than the operations themselves. From personal experience, after 12-15 years of "excitement" I was ready to sort of back off a little and get to go home on a regular basis, yet still be involved in the planning and training of the operations. By the time you get to be in your 30's doing the difficult stuff for years, your body may start to protest from years of very tough training and fitness levels and you may want to step back and plan or supervise instead of go on operations.

There are many paths, and even more options if you need that adrenaline rush, are single, don't mind being away from home often, and don't initially care about stability in life and rank. Every service has their different options, if you truly want "excitement" then do your research in depth, look at both enlisted and officer specialities, and if you can talk to some people involved in current specialities and see what life is like and then make an "informed" decision. Don't let enlisting first scare you off, every service has enlisted to officer programs and sometimes it is beneficial to enlist, do your thing, then move into the officer ranks later. Academies and ROTC programs are great, give you a terrific education, and CAN allow you to fulfill your "need for speed" and "excitement" if you understand that as you promote being an Officer you may get to do less and less of the "exciting" stuff...:) Just some things to consider.

A final thought....the Coast Guard is DHS, NOT DOD normally. You will do Law Enforcement, but not usually combat, unless under special circumstances, but the daily routine of both enlisted and officers is pretty normal because the CG usually does not operate onshore in combat areas, but rather shipboard doing patrols and standing either deck or engineering watch.