Joining the Coast Guard can be a fruitful and productive career path. If you are close to completion of a of a four year bachelor degree program and already enlisted in the Coast Guard, there are programs to help you complete your degree, and have the Coast Guard pay for it. Pre Commissioning Programs that exist for enlisted Servicemembers and personnel provide for certain personnel in the Coast Guard Reserve to attend University or College full time for one or two years to finish their degree requirements.
Applicants for the program must have completed at least four years of active duty service in the Coast Guard. Once a person has been in for at least 48 months of service, it is possible to apply and if accepted transition into the PPEP program. The program is one in which the Coast Guard pays for lab fees, tuition, and full funding for their degree program. The program participant receives full pay and allowances for their pay grade while being in school full time; their job assignment is literally going to college.
After graduation from college or University, the candidate will then attend Officer Candidate School to be trained for their role as a Coast Guard Commissioned Officer. After they graduate from OCS, the successful candidate will be commissioned at the rank of Ensign. First duty stations can include shore side duty at an operations or Coast Guard Station, Coast Guard Air Station, or on board any of the ships of the Coast Guard Fleet.
The Coast Guard functions as a police officer type mission on the Coast of the United States. They board vessels, so they are not directly a Military Service in the strict sense, since to board as such would be considered an act of war. The Coast Guard is an armed service of the Homeland Security Department. It used to be part of the Department of Transportation, until after September 11th. The Coast Guard is a uniformed Armed Forces service for the United States, whose primary mission is search and rescue, followed by homeland defense, aids to navigation, drug interdiction, and supervision of Port Security and shipping. To qualify a candidate must have a combined score of 1100 on verbal and math on the SAT test, and a composite of 23 on the ACT test. Applicants must be at least 2.5 GPA students if already enrolled in college, and within 24 months of completion of a four-year degree.
Every officer who applies for Coast Guard Officer training has to participate in Initial type training; this is essentially a type of boot camp for officers. It is designed to make you ready for leadership and give you the ability to make decision on a split second basis. The First term of service that is required from a newly commissioned Officer is three years. After that you may elect to stay in for longer periods up to six years at a time.