Five CG cutters and 31 boats are stationed out of three port facilities in South Carolina, where over 1,000 civilian and enlisted units adeptly fulfill their Coast Guard job requirements on a daily basis, ensuring mission completion. The Coast Guard also maintains several aircraft stationed at Air Facility Charleston. These units combine in the state to perform over 780 annual search and rescue operations and maintain 409 aids to navigation. In addition to serving as a key port facility, Charleston is also home to the Coast Guard’s Maritime Law Enforcement Academy at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Academy. It is here that training for Coast Guard law enforcement officers takes place, in a state-of-the-art facility that also opens its doors to provide sophisticated training for other law enforcement agencies.
For all Coast Guard careers in South Carolina, the first step towards making a successful application begins by knowing what options are available.
Applying for a Job with the Coast Guard
Support Personnel – Coast Guard jobs are held at two basic levels: civilian and enlisted. Coast Guard requirements for enlistment start at a four-year commitment and being able to demonstrate a good moral character. For basic positions candidates must be between the ages of 17-27, and after eight weeks of boot camp they will be ready to begin their unit training which supports one of four vital areas, with maritime law enforcement units among these:
- Administration and scientific
- Deck and ordinance
- Hull and engineering
Officers – Candidates can also enlist for more advanced officer positions, and doing this requires possessing a bachelor degree. Before starting to work in their career field, prospective officers will also need to complete a 17-week Officer Candidate Course. Officers can state a preference for their career path, and this is ultimately determined by their expertise and assignment. Consider the following associations:
- Pilot and a bachelor degree in Science and Aviation
- Engineer and a bachelor degree in Mechanical, Civil, or Marine Engineering
- Technology Specialist and a bachelor degree in IT, Computer Science, or Network Engineering
- Communications Specialist and a bachelor degree in Communications or Software Engineering
- Intelligence Officer and a bachelor degree in Mathematics or Technology
- Legal Officer and a bachelor degree in Law
Civilians – Civilians account for about five percent of South Carolina’s Coast Guard workforce, and closely resemble basic enlisted and officer positions, and therefore may also require the possession of a bachelor degree.
Recent Missions in South Carolina
South Carolina has seen some recent Coast Guard missions that provide an example of the range of duties one can expect serving in the Coast Guard:
- Just after sending out a distress call that it was losing engine power and electricity, a four-person fishing boat located 60 miles out to sea from the South Carolina coast was able to radio its location to the Coast Guard, who dispatched a Charleston-based cutter to aid in its rescue. A Coast Guard rescue helicopter was also deployed to obtain visual contact and confirm the crew was out of danger with enough food and water, and also dropped a battery-powered communications radio to the crew.
- Two Marine Corps pilots were recently forced to eject from their F/A-18 Hornet over the Atlantic, 35 miles out to sea from Saint Helena Sound. After receiving notification from the military, a rescue unit was dispatched from Charleston and able to successfully locate the two pilots.
- 65 passengers were recently rescued from their damaged fishing vessel half a mile east of Murrells Inlet. The rescue was a combined effort between the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and Coast Guard rescue units stationed in Georgetown and Charleston. An engine room fire had left the fishing boat unstable in the water and completely disabled.