Based in Milwaukee, US Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan is the largest Coast Guard sector in the country in terms of field units. In Wisconsin, this includes nine facilities out of which one cutter and 30 boats operate.
Coast Guard units in Wisconsin perform vital missions that restrict the entry of illegal border crossers, uphold the law, and protect both people and the environment. Last year this included 1,145 search and rescues and the maintenance of 271 navigational aids.
From Green Bay to Bayfield, the men and woman serving in the Wisconsin-based Coast Guard work with professionalism to surmount every challenge posed by difficult missions. Those interested in pursuing a career that can be both trying and rewarding can begin by researching initial Coast Guard job requirements.
Requirements for US Coast Guard Jobs
The vast majority of Coast Guard jobs in Wisconsin are held by enlisted members at two levels: basic enlistees and officers. All enlistments last for at least four years.
Coast Guard requirements for enlistment at the officer level include having a bachelor degree in addition to having no significant criminal convictions. This degree can be in any subject, and because officer-level Coast Guard careers are assigned based on expertise these often correlate with the subject of the four-year degree. To become an officer, candidates will first need to complete 17 weeks of Officer Candidate School before they begin training for their assigned job. Officer positions are wide-ranging, and include some of these degree associations:
- Environmental Officer for those with a degree in Marine Biology
- Medical Officer for candidates with a Medical Sciences degree
- Those with a degree in Mathematics or the Sciences may become an Intelligence Officer
- Legal Officers usually have a degree in Law or Political Science
- Command Staff can come from a Business Administration background
- There are a variety of Engineering Officer positions:
- Mechanical Engineering
- Computer Engineering
- Network Engineering
- Marine Engineering
Basic enlistees will need to make it through eight weeks of boot camp, and upon doing so will begin training with their assigned unit in a key mission-support area. To be eligible for basic enlistment, candidates need to have a good moral character, be between the ages of 17-27, and may need to obtain a security clearance.
Recent Training Exercises in Wisconsin
Besides live mission operations, the Coast Guard is always planning the next training exercise if it’s not already actively engaged in one. Some recent examples include:
Weapons Training: Wisconsin Coast Guard units recently participated in a multi-unit weapons training exercise aimed at increasing competency on two weapons: the M16 rifle and the M240 machine gun. In this training, laser technology was used to detect hits, and simulations included moving targets and hostile assailants.
Mass Casualty Events: An ice-covered waterway environment was recently the site of a 51-passenger plane crash, or at least that was the scenario Coast Guard units and other emergency and law enforcement personnel trained for recently in Green Bay. Although in this case the exercise involved an airplane, it is not uncommon for the Wisconsin Coast Guard to perform mass rescues of anglers who become adrift on ice floes. In 2009 that happened to 134 people.
Pollution Containment: One of the key missions of the Coast Guard is the mitigation and cleanup of maritime pollution. Recently in Marinette, Coast Guard environmental specialists held a pollution response training exercise that included boom deployment in cooperation with local emergency response agencies.