The U.S. Coast Guard was officially established in 1790, but it wasn’t always part of the military. It used to be under the Department of Transportation before it was transferred to the Department of Homeland Security.
Now, the Coast Guard completes a variety of maritime missions, often assisting the U.S. Navy during times of war.
It is possible to be too old to join the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard has some of the strictest requirements when it comes to enlisting recruits. The age limit is just one of those requirements.
Here, we’ll be talking all about the various age limitations you’ll have to understand before attempting to join the Coast Guard.
Coast Guard Reserve Age Limit
The Coast Guard Reserve was established during World War II and plays an important role in how the Coast Guard functions. The Reserve assists in various missions like search and rescue, drug busts, and law enforcement.
In general, requirements for joining the Coast Guard Reserve are slightly less strict than if you were enlisting in active duty. Still, there are age limits and other requirements, even though they do vary here and there.
Age Limit for Coast Guard
Depending on how you enter the Coast Guard, age limits will vary between 27 to 32. A few factors determine age limits in the Coast Guard including:
- Whether or not you enroll in the Coast Guard Academy
- Whether or not you enroll in Officer Candidate School or OCS
- Whether you have prior service experience
- Which program you’re a part of in the Coast Guard (i.e. medical, engineering, law, aviators)
Let’s talk about the age limits for those looking to enlist as an active duty service member in the Coast Guard.
In general, you must be between the ages of 17 and 31 to serve on active duty in the Coast Guard — unless you attended a guaranteed ‘A’ school which bumps the age limit to 32.
If you’re planning to join by enrolling in the Coast Guard Academy, you must be at least 17 years old and you won’t be able to enroll if you’re over 22.
It’s also important to note that those looking to enlist at age 17 will need parental consent.
You’ll also need to talk to your recruiter about the program you plan to pursue during your time in the Coast Guard. Due to some of the job requirements, age limits vary based on your job title.
Coast Guard Reserves Age Limit
To be in the Coast Guard Reserve, you must be between the ages of 17 and 40. However, there are some exceptions for those who have prior service experience.
If it’s your first time enlisting in any branch of the military, there are even more specifications when it comes to age limits in the Coast Guard Reserve:
- You must be between 17 and 28 years to enlist in the Coast Guard without a specialized skill
- You must be between the ages of 26 and 35 years to enlist in the Coast Guard with a specialized skill
If you have prior service experience in the military, the age limit specifications to re-enlist are as follows:
- You must be under 30 years old if your prior service was ranked at or below an E-3
- You must be under 40 years old if your prior service was ranked above an E-4
Coast Guard Officer Age Limit
If you’re interested in becoming an officer in the Coast Guard, there are a few ways to go about it. You can enlist and work your way up by eventually enrolling in Officer Candidate School or OCS. Or you can earn a commission after completing an ROTC program while studying for (and earning) your Bachelor’s degree. Or you can attend the Coast Guard Academy.
There are some age limits when it comes to joining OCS. You must be at least 21 years old to enroll and no older than 26 years old. Again, if you have prior service, this age limit could be waived; even still, the limit should not exceed 31 years.
Age Limit for Coast Guard Reserve
So, why are their age limits to join the Coast Guard or the Coast Guard Reserve? Well, at the end of the day, it’s all about safety and optimal performance of our service members.
It’s no secret that our physical fitness becomes harder to maintain as we age. Sure, there are some incredibly strong and fit 45-year-olds out there, but the truth is, the younger you are, the more “in shape” you’re likely to be.
The other requirements that need to be met to join the Coast Guard include a physical fitness test, and Basic Training itself is a doozy. Being in the military is about working as a team and to keep everyone safe and performing at their best, the Coast Guard sets age limits.
However, it’s understood that for specialized skills like becoming a doctor, lawyer, or pilot, many years of experience are required to achieve mastery. Therefore, the age limits can vary if your job requires a specialized skill over physical fitness.
Coast Guard Reserve Officer Age Limit
To wrap things up, we’ll go over some other ways you can join the Coast Guard that have different age limits.
- Must be in high school or college
- Must be between 17 and 28 years old
- You’ll be considered part of the Coast Guard Reserve
- During the school year, you’ll train for two summers and serve the Coast Guard one weekend of every month
Officer Selectee Program
- Must be between 17 and 27 years old
- You’ll go through a 30-week Basic and Advanced Training program
Petty Officer Program
- Must be between 26 and 35 years old
- Must have prior service experience
- Must be under 59 years old
- Depending on specialized skill, you may be able to re-enlist in the Coast Guard at your previously held rate
As always, it’s important to talk to your recruiter about the best option for you. Even though there are strict age limits when it comes to joining the Coast Guard, there are still many opportunities to serve.