With over a dozen seaports and air bases across the state, the Coast Guard conducts missions by land, sea, and air to protect this country’s waterways and uphold its laws around the maritime boundaries of Texas. Crews are prepared 24 hours a day for deployment on the state’s 13 cutters, 100 boats, and nine aircraft, which include helicopters and fixed-wing airplanes based out of USCG Air Station Houston and USCG Air Station Corpus Christi.
Every year the Coast Guard in Texas conducts:
- Over 1,000 search and rescue missions
- Homeland security law enforcement operations
- Environmental cleanup and enforcement
- Illegal drug interdiction
- Maritime border patrol
Meeting Coast Guard Requirements
Researching Coast Guard requirements for enlistment and employment is a good first step towards preparing for a potentially lifelong Coast Guard career. Recruiters can be found in major cities like Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin, but also places such as Irving and Sabine.
In Texas, Coast Guard jobs can be broken down into two categories: enlisted positions which make up about 94 percent of the workforce, and civilian positions which make up the remaining six percent. There are also a significant number of volunteer auxiliary units, numbering 903 members across the state.
Enlisting is at least a four-year commitment and can be done on two levels: basic and officer. Those enlisting at the basic level will need to be between 17-27 years old and have no significant criminal history. Careers at this level begin with eight weeks of boot camp, which is then followed by unit-based training where new enlistees will learn the skills they need to meet their specific job requirements.
Officer-level Coast Guard job requirements are more advanced than those at the basic level and include having a bachelor degree. Before beginning to train for their Coast Guard careers at the officer level, prospective officers will need to first complete 17 weeks at the Officer Candidate School. Bachelor degrees can be in any subject, and correlations between careers – which are ultimately assigned – and degrees include:
- Pilot – Science and Aviation
- Coast Guard Legal Officer – Law
- Medical Officer – Medical Science
- Command Staff – Business Administration
- Engineering Officer – Science, Engineering
- Toxicologist or Marine Scientist – Marine Biology, Biology
- Network Specialist – Network Engineering, IT, Computer Science
Civilians are eligible to work for the Coast Guard if they can meet specific job requirements, much like they would need to do for a position in the private sector. This can include having an appropriate bachelor degree, and civilians are not required to make a legally binding time commitment or complete boot camp.
The Range of Employment Options in Texas
In Texas, Coast Guard careers offer a wide variety of options, with many different specialists combining their efforts to make the following missions possible:
Drug Interdiction: 350 pounds of marijuana were recently seized by Coast Guard units based in Port Aransas and Corpus Christi when they intercepted a 19-foot bass boat which had eluded border officials and was attempting to deliver a shipment of illegal drugs on Lake Amistad near Highway 277. Crew members of the boat had already offloaded 200 pounds of the drug into a waiting truck near the shore, which along with their vessel were both seized.
Illegal Fishing: A Mexican-flagged vessel attempted to ram its way free of custody when the Coast Guard caught it fishing illegally in waters four miles at sea from Brownsville. After a short pursuit Coast Guard Law Enforcement Agents were able to cut the vessel’s fuel line and arrest the crew. On board, investigators found several species of forbidden marine animals.
Multi-Agency Law Enforcement: In a recent joint enforcement mission aimed at deterring criminal activity and terrorism, Coast Guard units from Port Arthur teamed up with other local, state, and federal forces to conduct a joint law enforcement operation along the maritime route between Texas and Louisiana. Over the course of the operation 43 merchant and leisure vessels were boarded which resulted in two illegal aliens being taken into custody.