You’ve decided that you want to join the Coast Guard and now you just need to know exactly what is required so that you can prepare ahead of time to ensure the highest rate of success. The United States Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security. The Coast Guard is unique in this way but is considered a military service because, during times of conflict, the U.S. president can transfer any and all assets of the Coast Guard to the Department of the Navy.
A day in the life of a Coast Guard man or woman differs based on where they are located, as well as the type of job they have. They may work on a ship or on a small boat station. Some of the responsibilities of the U.S. Coast Guard are to assist law enforcement, respond to natural disasters, conduct search and rescue missions, as well as varied other tasks. So you want to join the Coast Guard? Let’s take a look at the various Coast Guard requirements.
Coast Guard Requirements
There are some basic requirements for joining the Coast Guard, just as there are for any branch of the military. Those requirements are:
- Be a naturalized or U.S. citizen to become a Coast Guard officer.
- Be a United States citizen or resident alien to enlist in the Coast Guard.
- Have a high school diploma.
- Be between the ages of 17-31, with the 17-year-olds requiring parental consent.
- Reservists must be between the ages of 17-40.
- Pass the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) test as well as the Military Entrance Processing medical exam.
- Have no more than 3 dependents.
Coast Guard Physical Requirements
Coast Guard can be a physically demanding job depending on what type of work you do. They work in and around the ocean, perform Search and Rescue (SAR) missions, Maritime Law Enforcement (MLE), Ice Breaking, environmental protection, and ensuring safe and lawful commerce in the maritime environment. Each individual must meet certain, base-level physical requirements to join the Coast Guard.
The minimum physical requirements for Coast Guard graduation are:
- Push-ups. In 1 minute, men must be able to perform 29 push-ups, and women must be able to perform 15 push-ups.
- Sit-ups. In 1 minute, men must be able to achieve 38 sit-ups, and women must be able to achieve 32 sit-ups.
- 1.5 mile run. For the one and a half-mile run, men must complete the run in a minimum of 12 minutes and 51 seconds. Women must complete the 1.5 run in 15 minutes and 26 seconds.
- Complete swim circuit. All participants must jump off of a 1.5-meter platform into a pool and then swim 100 meters unassisted.
These are just the requirements for Coast Guard graduation. You will most likely be asked to do many other physically demanding tasks during the course of your training, as well as after training has completed. Coast Guard is always ready because you never know what type of situation will arise, and the response will typically need to be swift while also being as safe as possible.
Coast Guard Weight Requirements
The Coast Guard has a weight and body fat standards program that was created to ensure that all Coast Guard military personnel:
- Are capable of meeting the operational needs and challenges of the Coast Guard
- Maintain a healthy body fat and weight percentage
- Present a sharp military appearance
The program is applicable to Active Duty, Reserve, USPHS officers detailed to the Coast Guard, Accession candidates, and others. Weight and Body Fat Screenings (Weigh-ins) often happen semi-annually. The Coast Guard has established the minimum BMI standard of 19.0 and a 27.5 maximum BMI. For details on the screening process, policies and procedures, and how BMI is measured, check out this Coast Guard Weight and Body Fat Standards Program Manual.
Coast Guard Academy Requirements
The U.S. Coast Guard Academy is ranked as one of the nation’s elite undergraduate universities. Admission to Coast Guard Academy is highly selective, only admitting roughly 300 cadets from a pool of thousands of applicants. The Coast Guard Academy doesn’t require a congressional nomination like other federal service academies.
To be eligible for the Coast Guard Academy, you must:
- Be a United States citizen with sound moral character.
- Have no debt, be unmarried with no dependents.
- Be 17-22 years of age on July 1st during the year of entry.
- Have a GED or diploma prior to entry.
The U.S. Coast Guard Academy is a top military college that awards its cadets with Bachelor of Science degrees in one of 9 different engineering or professional majors. There are also full scholarship Graduate programs at the CG Academy.
The mission of the Coast Guard Academy is “to graduate young men and women with sound bodies, stout hearts, and alert minds, with a liking for the sea and its lore, with that high sense of honor, loyalty, and obedience which goes with trained initiative and leadership; well-grounded in seamanship, the sciences, and amenities, and strong in the resolve to be worthy of the traditions of commissioned officers in the United States Coast Guard in the service of their country and humanity.”
Coast Guard Auxiliary Requirements
The Coast Guard Auxiliary is a volunteer, uniformed auxiliary service of the United States Coast Guard. The main goal of the Coast Guard Auxiliary is to provide recreational boating safety and education while acting as a force multiplier in support of Coast Guard authorized missions.
The Coast Guard Auxiliary’s overarching mission “is to contribute to the safety and security of our citizens, ports, waterways and coastal regions. We will balance our missions of Recreational Boating Safety and Coast Guard Support with Maritime Homeland Security and other challenges that emerge as a result of our growing understanding of changes required in the post-9/11 era.”
To join the Coast Guard Auxiliary, you must:
- Be at least 17 years old with no maximum age limit.
- Never have been convicted of a felony.
- Be physically and mentally capable of carrying out the jobs you choose, although there are no physical requirements to join.
- Reach out to a Division Staff Officer for Human Resources or a Flotilla Staff Officer of Human Resources for an interview, a background check, a short history lesson, and an exam, as well as learning about the tasks and jobs available.
Coast Guard Fitness Requirements
Joining the U.S. Coast Guard is just like any other armed forces branch, in which it requires physical fitness tests, boot camps, and constant training to ensure soldiers are in peak performance. Most boot camp graduates will work on a ship or on a small boat station. There are various duties required for each job scenario, each one unique to the job and location. Just like the Air Force and the Navy, enlisted Coast Guard will attend boot camp at Cape May in New Jersey. The physical training during boot camp has been rumored to be as rigorous as Marine Corps boot camp at times, so a consistent focus on staying in shape and taking care of your body is important.
As the Coast Guard motto of Semper Paratus says, as military personnel of the U.S. Coast Guard you are “always ready.” For more information regarding joining the Coast Guard, contact your local recruiter.