The US Coast Guard based in Minnesota faces a number of challenges each day:
- Smugglers trying to circumvent official international border crossings with Canada
- Polluters on Lake Superior
- Flood waters from the Mississippi and Saint Croix Rivers
- Maritime traffic in distress
- Major civil infrastructure accidents
Volunteer Auxiliary Coast Guard Units also play an important role in the state. It’s no exaggeration to call Minnesota the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and teaching boaters proper safety techniques has helped save lives every year.
Qualifying for Different Types of Coast Guard Careers
Besides volunteer Auxiliary Units, which accounts for 231 personnel in Minnesota, there are two basic eligibility paths for Coast Guard jobs: civilian and enlistment.
Enlistees can expect to make at least a four-year commitment, with Coast Guard requirements for entry-level positions starting with no significant criminal record and being between the ages of 17-27. Careers at this level are assigned to enlistees once they have completed their eight weeks of basic training.
Officer-level enlisted careers require candidates to have at least a bachelor degree. Training for these Coast Guard careers can begin after acceptance into and completion of the 17-week Officer Candidate School, after which new officers will be assigned to a career that fits their expertise, such as the following:
- Command Staff Officers for a bachelor degree in Business Management or Administration
- Intelligence Officer for a degree in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics)
- Systems Engineer for a degree in Computer Science, IT, or Information Systems
- Naval and Civil Engineer for a bachelor degree in engineering
- Pilot for a degree in Science and Aviation
- Medical Officer for a degree in nursing or health sciences
Civilian employment requires no training or boot camp and is similar to the private sector, thus many officer-equivalent civilian positions also require a related bachelor degree.
What to Expect from a Coast Guard Career in Minnesota
A large part of Coast Guard careers is training. This takes place at all levels, as demonstrated by a recent exercise that took place in the Port of Duluth-Superior involving Coast Guard units along with federal, tribal, local, and state emergency response agencies. Over the course of two days, these agencies participated in drills simulating a terrorist attack and an oil spill as part of the National Preparedness Response Exercise Program.
When not training, it’s very possible that Coast Guard units will be responding to emergency situations, such as in these recent occurrences:
- As rivers prepared to flood in a recent spring, Coast Guard Disaster Assistant Response Teams assembled around Minnesota to be ready to assist communities affected by the rising Mississippi River near places in Minneapolis and potential flooding of the Saint Croix River east of Saint Paul.
- After summer flooding caused by massive thunderstorms inundated areas around Duluth, Coast Guard helicopter and boat units were able to save 15 civilians from harm’s way. Coast Guard Biologists also checked local water systems for contamination by pollutants. In 2012 the Minnesota Coast Guard conducted 51 search and rescue operations.
- Coast Guard units also responded to the infamous Minneapolis I-35 bridge collapse in 2007 by dispatching a 25-foot smallboat search and rescue crew along with a helicopter unit to conduct recovery missions.