Civilian Careers: Frequently Asked Questions
DO I HAVE TO ENLIST?
No. The U.S. Coast Guard offers numerous positions for civilian personnel. In fact, the U.S. Coast Guard includes over 7,000 civilians working in over 200 different types of positions.
DO I HAVE TO KNOW NAUTICAL TERMS AND SUCH?
No. Civilian positions in the U.S. Coast Guard are not sea-going in nature. They involve other types of work, i.e. accounting, administrative support, computer/IT, engineering, etc. Some technical positions may require a knowledge of the type of work that the U.S. Coast Guard is generally engaged in. For details, refer to the Vacancy Announcement of the position you desire. The education and knowledge requirements will be listed there.
WHERE CAN I WORK?
U.S. Coast Guard civilian personnel work in over 100 locations across America. For further information, visit our location page.
DO I HAVE TO KNOW HOW TO SWIM?
It's always a good idea to know how to swim. But no, it is not a prerequisite for joining us in a civilian position.
WHAT EDUCATION OR DEGREE DO I NEED?
That depends on the type of position for which you wish to apply. Some professional positions do require a college degree, other positions may require a high school diploma, a GED, or other training/education, supplemented by experience. Like any other employer, the U.S. Coast Guard expects you to be well qualified for the job. The best thing to do is to refer to the Vacancy Announcement of the position you desire. The education and experience requirements will be listed there.
WHAT IS THE PAY LIKE FOR CIVILIAN PERSONNEL?
Compensation for civilian personnel at the U.S. Coast Guard is very competitive. It follows the federal government's General Schedule pay rates, where positions are assigned pay grades or levels (i.e., GS-9, GS-10, etc). For more information, refer to the Vacancy Announcement of the position you desire. The General Schedule pay rate will be listed there.
WHAT TYPES OF CIVILIAN JOBS DOES THE U.S. COAST GUARD HIRE?
Civilian jobs in the U.S. Coast Guard encompass over 200 different types of roles: professional, technical, engineering, computer/I.T., administrative, clerical, the trades (HVAC, electrical, etc.), and more.
CAN I WORK PART TIME?
Yes, some civilian positions are part time. For best results, refer to the Vacancy Announcement of the position you desire. The position will be listed there as either full- or part-time.
DO I HAVE TO KNOW CPR AND WATER LIFESAVING TECHNIQUES?
It would be a good idea to have these skills. But no, you do not need to know CPR and/or water lifesaving techniques to join the U.S. Coast Guard in a civilian position.
WILL I WEAR A UNIFORM?
Only if you would normally do so in your civilian job. For instance, firefighter personnel may have a work uniform (but not a U.S. Coast Guard military uniform). Civilian personnel in the U.S. Coast Guard are like any workforce in the private sector; they are expected to dress according to their work environment and their position.
WILL I GO AWAY FOR TRAINING, LIKE BOOT CAMP?
No. While the U.S. Coast Guard offers excellent training programs and opportunities for ongoing skill development, you will not attend a military-style boot camp as part of your hiring process. Joining the U.S. Coast Guard in a civilian position can be compared to joining a private sector company, with similar orientation, training, mentoring, and other support.
HOW DO I APPLY?
The information currently on your resume may not be enough to satisfy government employers. Review the booklet Applying for a Federal Job from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM). This booklet lists all the information an applicant needs to provide for federal employment. A resume containing all the required information is called a "federal resume" although there is no mandated form.
For more information about federal jobs and hiring, visit: www.opm.gov or www.usajobs.com