Members of the U.S. Coast Guard, also called “Coasties,” are a part of the U.S. Armed Forces, under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Coast Guard officers are responsible for a variety of duties, including border patrol and security, environmental protection, search and rescue, and public safety. There are 38,000 active-duty officers in the Coast Guard, as well as 8,000 additional officers called Reservists. These officers are part-time employees and only work one weekend a month and two full weeks each year. The only difference between Reservists and active Coast Guard officers is their full-time or part-time status. Job responsibilities for all coast guard officers vary greatly. Career paths include engineering, law, intelligence, maritime patrol, aviation, environmental operation and more. The Coast Guard sponsors different officer programs for training, depending on your interest area. They include the Officer Candidate School, Maritime Academy, Coast Guard Academy and the Blue 21 Flight Initiative, which trains officers to become aviators for the Coast Guard.
Once you have been accepted into and completed a Coast Guard training program, you will be eligible to receive the benefits package offered. In addition to a competitive salary, you will receive 30 paid vacation days each year (2.5 days per month), complete medical and dental care at no cost to you, tuition assistance, life insurance, tax-free money that is to be used for housing on base or off-base, depending on the amenities in your area, and other benefits.
The main preparation that Coast Guard officers receive is through specific training offered by the Coast Guard itself. In order to be accepted into one of these programs, however, applicants must meet several requirements. Applicants must be between the ages of 17-27 (with some exceptions), have a high school diploma and pass a military entrance medical exam. While a college education is not required, it may help your admittance by displaying your interest in the field. A strong academic record all the way through graduate school also shows that you are dedicated, intelligent, and goal-oriented. You may even be rewarded with a higher salary upon entry into the Coast Guard than if you did not have any extra education.