US Coast Guard Job Requirements in Hawaii

With hundreds of miles of coastline and millions of tourists each year, protecting the territorial maritime boundaries of Hawaii is a critical mission, and the US Coast Guard stationed on nine bases throughout the islands does just this. In addition to upholding national interests, each week the Hawaii Coast Guard:

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  • Saves $60,000 in property
  • Responds to 20 boats in distress
  • Saves two lives
  • Responds to five oil spills

Recent actions among others include interdicting drug smugglers and enforcing an exclusion zone for the visiting president of the United States. The Coast Guard also maintains a constant lookout for possible acts of terrorism that could disrupt the tourist economy or target the more than 40,000 military personnel based on the islands.

Preparing for a Career in the Coast Guard

In Hawaii there are approximately 1,626 personnel serving in a wide variety of active and reserve Coast Guard jobs. The vast majority of this force is active-duty enlisted members, who begin their careers by meeting some initial Coast Guard requirements:

  • Entry-level entrance possible for candidates between 17-27 who can pass a background check
  • Officer-level entrance possible for candidates possessing a bachelor degree

Recruiters will explain that those enlisting for four years at the entry-level will need to complete eight weeks of basic training before continuing more specific training with an assigned unit. Training for Coast Guard careers in Hawaii is provided in four basic job categories, which will be determined based on aptitude tests and enlistee preference:

  • Hull and engineering
  • Aviation
  • Deck and maintenance
  • Scientific and administration

Four-year enlistees with a bachelor degree can apply for entry as officers with the rank of ensign. There is a wide range of career opportunities for officers, who will first need to complete a 17-week Officer Candidate School before beginning more specialized Coast Guard training in their career field, which will match their aptitudes and degree-related skills:

  • Intelligence Officers for those with degrees in mathematics, sciences, or technology
  • A range of Engineering Officer positions for those with degrees in:
    • Computer Engineering
    • Mechanical Engineering
    • Electrical Engineering
    • Systems Engineering


  • Pilots for those with degrees in the sciences with an emphasis in aviation
  • Environmental Officers for those with degrees in biology or chemistry
  • Human Resources Officer for those with a degree in business management or public administration
  • Legal degrees for candidates with a degree in law

There are also civilian Coast Guard positions that closely mirror officer-level enlistee options, many of which also require a four-year degree, as well as part-time reservist positions at both the basic and officer-level.

Hawaii-Based Coast Guard Opportunities

Once candidates have completed their training they will be ready to competently perform their Coast Guard job requirements. A team working together as one makes the following missions possible:

  • The recent 83-day deployment of a cutter from Honolulu to the Mexican coast for a joint training exercise involving Canadian, US, and Mexican forces. This was a confidence-building opportunity for all three nations aimed at cooperative counter-narcotic operations.
  • A Coast Guard rescue plane was recently dispatched from Air Station Barbers Point on Kapolei to provide a medical evacuation for the victim of a shark attack. The victim was flown to Oahu where he was admitted in stable condition.
  • Coast Guard air units from Barbers Point as well as sea units from Honolulu and Maui were recently sent on a search and rescue mission involving an airplane which had crash-landed in the ocean. Passengers were rescued from the water and taken to a local hospital. Last year the Coast Guard in Hawaii performed 616 search and rescue operations.

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