Covering some of the largest inland maritime territory, the US Coast Guard operates 25 stations that dot the coastline of Michigan from the upper to lower peninsula. Protected territory includes four out of five of the Great Lakes along with hundreds of miles of the international border with Canada. Besides patrolling for contraband and smugglers illegally crossing into US territorial waters by air, ship and submarine, the Michigan-based Coast Guard keeps its hands full with training exercises, search and rescue operations, and environmental clean ups, among other missions.
The Coast Guard also operates two air bases out of the state: USCG Air Station Detroit and USCG Air Station Traverse City, both of which provide air coverage for interdiction vectoring as well as search and rescue with 10 helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.
Researching the basic Coast Guard job requirements is the starting point for candidates planning ahead for Coast Guard careers based in Michigan.
Initial Requirements and Basic Training
Last year 1,382 enlisted personnel held Coast Guard jobs in Michigan, making up the vast majority of available personnel. Enlisting requires no previous training, but candidates must be at least 17 and have no significant criminal record.
After completing eight weeks of basic training, new enlistees will be assigned a job that supports one of the four major operations groups:
- Hull and engineering
- Deck and ordinance
- Scientific and administration
If candidates have a bachelor degree in any subject they are eligible to apply for enlistment with a rank of ensign in an officer position. Training for these more advanced careers can begin after completion of the 17-week Officer Candidate School.
Officers’ careers are matched with their expertise as exemplified by the following associations:
- Pilot – degree in Science and Aviation
- Intelligence Officer – degree in Science, Technology, or Mathematics
- Environmental Officer – degree in Marine Biology or Biology
- Flight Engineer – degree in Electrical Engineering or Systems Engineering
- Command Staff – degree in Business Management
- Technology Officer – degree in IT, Computer Science, or Network Engineering
Civilians are also employed by the Coast Guard, requirements for which can also include a bachelor degree for more advanced positions, which are similar to those in the officer class. However unlike being enlisted which generally requires a four-year commitment, civilians will find their experience to more closely resemble the private sector.
High Profile Coast Guard Missions in Michigan
Some recent missions accomplished in the waters surrounding Michigan highlight the role played by the Coast Guard in the state, made possible by the combined efforts of all members and professional performance:
- Seven members of the public were rescued by Coast Guard units near Holland State Park after becoming caught in deadly rip currents. Over the course of three hours beginning after 10 pm, units patrolling the beach area were able to pull a total of seven people from the water who had been swept into a no-swimming zone.
- Coast Guard Marine Biologist Officers and Toxicologists were recently assigned to Duncan Bay after receiving reports of an oil spill. Although the cause of the spill remains under investigation, Coast Guard units working in collaboration with other local, state, and federal authorities were able to reopen an affected beach after a couple of days.
- Coast Guard units based in Michigan may also be temporarily deployed to assist in other parts of the world. This is what recently happened to a helicopter crew from Air Station Travis City when they were deployed to the Caribbean and made a successful medevac from a cruise ship near Haiti.