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  • The Coast Guard was created after five separate federal services were combined: the U.S. Lighthouse Service, the Revenue Cutter Service, the Steamboat Inspection Service, Bureau of Navigation and the U.S. Lifesaving Service. In 1915, a congressional act combined the Life-Saving Service and Revenue Cutter Service to form the Coast Guard. The Service was placed under the control of the Treasury Department until 1967, when an executive order transferred the Coast Guard to the newly formed Department of Transportation.

    Currently, the Coast Guard operates under the Department of Homeland Security during peacetime and under the Navy during wartime, or by special presidential order. In addition to protecting our nation's waterways, the approximately 40,000 active-duty members of the Coast Guard perform search and rescue, law enforcement and environmental cleanup operations.

  • Before Serving in the Coast Guard

  • Before Serving in the Coast Guard

    Before Serving in the Coast Guard

    To join the Coast Guard, you must be a U.S. citizen or resident alien between 18 and 27 years old (17 with parental consent). While GEDs are sometimes accepted, high school diplomas are preferred. All recruits take the ASVAB test to determine placement. Those interested in becoming officers may apply to the Coast Guard Academy or talk to their local recruiter about other options.

    Basic Training takes place at the Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May, N.J., and lasts for eight weeks. Daily fitness and swimming drills combined with classroom instruction prepare recruits mentally and physically for life in the Coast Guard.

  • Coast Guard Benefits

  • Coast Guard Benefits

    Coast Guard Benefits

    All Coast Guard members receive salaries and full health care benefits, as well as opportunities for tuition reimbursement. In addition, the Coast Guard has obvious benefits for those who love the water and coastline. Combine travel, career training and strength of character to see why the Coast Guard can be so rewarding.

  • Coast Guard Careers

  • Coast Guard Careers

    Coast Guard Careers

    The Coast Guard offers a range of opportunities for all sorts of interests. The Coast Guard is a great place for professionals in the marine and environmental sciences, offering access to the latest technology and research initiatives. In addition, the Coast Guard offers strong careers in law enforcement and mechanical engineering, along with many part-time options in the Reserve.

  • Coast Guard Videos

    Coast Guard Videos

    Get an inside look at the Coast Guard with selections from our Coast Guard Videos collection.

    • Resources

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      Frequently Asked Questions

      View answers to commonly asked questions about the Military.

      The Next Step: Training

      The Next Step: Training

      Once someone has committed to serving in the Military, it's time for them to get the training they need to succeed.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Vanessa Valdes: I am a Reservist at United States Southern Command. I’m an Intelligence Specialist, 2nd Class, and on my personal time, I’m a full-time student at Broward College, studying criminal justice.

Seaman Deirdre Gray: My job right now is a Seaman on the Healy. Our main objective and mission is to assist the National Science Foundation in their science research of the Bering and the Arctic.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Adrien Cheval: As an individual, I really enjoy getting underway. The fact that I’m getting paid to—to drive a boat and to save lives and to also enforce federal law is a great privilege.

Seaman Deirdre Gray: You know, these are things that, outside of the Military, I don’t think I would have had the—ever had the experience to see or do.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Adrien Cheval: The Coast Guard’s also a humanitarian agency, in the sense that we—we provide assistance to Americans and others in distress, here and abroad. For example, in 2005, we conducted search and rescue operations during Hurricane Katrina.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Vanessa Valdes: I think my passion for the ocean drove me to join the Coast Guard. Whether it be boating or, you know, under-the-surface scuba-diving, but just everything about it. It’s pretty much my life.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Adrien Cheval: I chose the Coast Guard for a particular reason, and I knew what I was getting myself into. And today, I’m very happy that I made the decision.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Vanessa Valdes: What makes me the most proud is seeing my mom’s face light up when I tell her, you know, about my day, and—looking at the pictures of all my experiences and just thinking back, it’s like, “Wow, I was there, I did this, I did that.” You know, none of that would have been possible without the Coast Guard.