Virginia is one of the most important locations for the Coast Guard in the United States. With a budget of over $784.9 million – more than that of California’s, Texas and Florida’s combined – the Virginia-based Coast Guard supports 4,937 enlisted and 1,554 civilian employees who work from more than a dozen CG bases throughout the state. Virginia is also home to Training Center Yorktown, one of the country’s preeminent centers for non-officer enlisted training.
The Virginia Coast Guard accomplishes its missions with highly trained professionals who have 100 boats and 14 cutters at their disposal, ready to conduct operations ranging from live-fire training exercises to narcotics seizures.
How to Join the US Coast Guard in Virginia
Either as a civilian or enlisted member of the Coast Guard, before candidates are accepted they will need to meet certain Coast Guard requirements. To enlist, prospective coasties should talk with a recruiter about the two enlistment levels: non-officer and officer.
Coast Guard Officers – The officer-level requires a bachelor’s degree. Training for Coast Guard officer careers begins with 17 weeks spent at the Officer Candidate School, followed by a job assignment based on the new enlistee’s expertise and preference. Examples of job titles and associated bachelor degrees include:
- Intelligence Officer – Technology, Mathematics, Engineering
- Medical Officer – Medical Science, Biology
- Environmental Officer – Microbiology, Marine Biology
- Software Specialist – IT, Software Engineering, Computer Science
- Legal Officer – Law, Political Science
- Engineer – Marine and Civil Engineering
- Command Staff – Business Administration, Public Administration
Civilian Positions – In Virginia, Coast Guard jobs held by civilians number over 1.5 thousand, making up about 30 percent of the total workforce in the state. Unlike enlisted positions, these do not require a commitment for service, and can be thought of as being on par with private sector positions. Civilian jobs tend to resemble enlisted positions, and may also require a relevant bachelor degree.
Mission Support Personnel – Non-officer positions support four key areas of mission operations, and require that candidates be between the ages of 17-27 with a good personal history. Often times these positions require the ability to obtain a security clearance, and before beginning their unit-based training, new recruits will need to complete eight weeks of boot camp. Training Center Yorktown offers specific training for non-officer positions like:
- Boatswains Mate
- Damage Controlman
- Electricians Mate
- Gunners Mate
- Intelligence Specialist
The Coast Guard at Work in Virginia
Each day Coast Guard units based in Virginia carry out a range of missions. A wide variety of skilled employees make these possible, some of which include:
- Coast Guard emergency operators in the Hampton Roads sector recently received notification of a marina fire in Norfolk. A Coast Guard firefighting and environmental pollution unit was dispatched to assist the local fire department in managing the blaze, which completely consumed three vessels and damaged others. Environmental officers deployed boom and absorbent pads around the scene of the fire to contain pollution.
- Last year Virginia Coast Guard units performed a total of 3,552 search and rescue missions, with one of these including the rescue of four passengers from a sailboat 170 miles out to sea from Virginia Beach. Coast Guard units transported the passengers to safety after the steering capabilities of their boat became inoperable.
- A Portsmouth-based cutter recently returned from over a month of being deployed in the North Atlantic where it made 17 fishery enforcement boardings. Over the course of these operations, one narcotics seizure was made and one fishing violation was issued, in addition to assistance provided to two disabled boats.