What are the Best Jobs in the United States Coast Guard?

Best Jobs in the Coast Guard

It’s an often-overlooked branch of the military, but the United States Coast Guard (USCG) has a long history of serving this nation that dates back to 1790.

Today, the enlisted men and women of the USCG continue to play a vital role in ensuring the safety and security of our nation and its citizens.

On any given day, you’ll find them rescuing citizens during natural disasters, stopping drug smugglers on the high seas, preventing environmental disasters, ensuring the safe passage of friendly seacraft, and more.

If you decide to join the USCG, your days are guaranteed to be anything but boring.

Not only are USCG careers exciting, but they provide good salaries and give you skills that can help you transition to a job in the civilian sector after your military service ends.

8 Coast Guard Careers You Should Consider 

If you’re considering enlisting in the Coast Guard, here are eight of the best careers you can pursue.  

1. Cyber Mission Specialist 

Cyber Mission Specialists execute offensive and defensive cyberspace operations to ensure the safety and security of USCG networks, databases, and cloud storage systems. They constantly monitor the cyber realm to identify and respond to any threats.

These specialists also install and upgrade the latest anti-hacking and cybersecurity software as a first line of defense against enemy cyber attacks.

The pay for Cyber Mission Specialists is $75,000 to $131,000 annually.

After you’ve separated from service, you’ll find there’s a lot of career opportunities for those with cyber security skills. According to Cybercrime magazine, there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs in the U.S. by 2025. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the current median salary for a mid-level cyber security job is $112,000 per year.

Also, be sure to check out the The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies, which helps veterans with cyber security skills find jobs in civilian workforce.

2. Aviation Survival Technician (AST)

Best Jobs in the Coast Guard

ASTs are the Coast Guard’s elite search and rescue swimmers. These swimmers have one mission: to rescue people in distress. They’ll arrive on the scene in helicopters to pull civilians out of harm’s way—whether that’s during hurricane, a flood, or a forest fire.

ASTs also dive into ocean waters to rescue people who have gone overboard or have lost their ships.

When not in rescue mode, ASTs are inspecting, maintaining, and repairing oxygen tanks, rescue kits, parachute systems, portable pumps, and other equipment they use.

The average base salary for ASTs is $58,000 annually.

After transitioning out of the military, ASTs can work as lifeguards, swim instructors, and safety inspectors for commercial seacraft. Some also find that their skills help them easily transition to careers as firefighters, police officers, or emergency medical technicians.

3. Maritime Enforcement Specialist 

If you’re passionate about protecting our nation’s maritime boarders, preventing illegal drugs from entering the country, and ensuring that our nation’s waterways are used exclusively for lawful and peaceful purposes, then Maritime Enforcement Specialist may be the perfect job for you.

As a Maritime Enforcement Specialist, you’ll lead and train a crew that’ll be on call to intervene when potentially illicit activity is occurring in America’s waters. That could include anything from stopping and searching a suspicious ship, seizing contraband, or even boarding and taking control of an unfriendly vessel. 

Maritime Enforcement Specialists earn an average of $88,815 per year

After separating from service, you’ll have the skills to pursue a career in law enforcement at the federal, state, or local level. Commercial shipping companies also value Maritime Enforcement Specialists for their skills in navigation and ability to operate and maintain watercraft and related equipment.

4. Aviation Maintenance Technicians (AMTs)

Best Jobs in the Coast Guard

AMTs inspect, troubleshoot, repair, and maintain the aircraft used by the Coast Guard, which includes helicopters and airplanes. As an AMT, you’ll be trained to repair aircraft engines, hydraulics, and powertrains. Furthermore, you’ll repair and maintain the parts of the aircraft such as wings, rotor blades, propellers, and fuselages.

AMTs can make $45,000 to $73,000 per year in the Coast Guard.

After you’ve left service, you can continue to work as an Aviation Mechanic on commercial aircraft. You’ll earn a salary close to $90,000 per year. You could also pursue a career as an aircraft inspector or maintenance supervisor for commercial airlines.

You should also know that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is dedicated to hiring veterans that have skills in aircraft repair and maintenance. Check out their webpage for more opportunities.

5. Electrician’s Mate 

As an Electrician’s Mate, you’ll literally be responsible for keeping the USCG’s lights on by installing, repairing, and maintaining electrical equipment aboard watercraft and on bases.

You’ll receive 16 weeks of training in electrical theory, circuitry, and fiber optics principles. Opportunities for advanced training will also be available.  

The average base salary for an Electrician’s Mate after training is $53,000 per year.

Upon leaving the service you’ll have skills that are highly valued by homeowners, business owners, and construction companies everywhere. You can pursue a career as an electrician, alarm system installer, a power plant operator, or a maintenance supervisor.

It’s also worthwhile to check out Helmets to Hardhats, an organization that helps veterans find jobs in the construction industry. They have a whole page dedicated to electrical workers. 

6. Health Services Technician 

Health Services Technicians are trained to deliver preventive and emergency health care enlisted men and women on clinics ashore or as part of a crew at sea.

The cool thing about becoming a Health Services Technician is that you’ll be trained to perform a wide variety of medical tasks.

For example, after you’re trained, you’ll be able to prescribe medications, administer vaccines, take X-rays, perform minor surgical procedures, and draw blood. You’ll even be trained to perform a few dental procedures.

The average pay for a health services technician is $53,000 annually.

One you separate from service, you’ll have many options available to you. You can go on to become an X-ray technician, a pharmacy assistant, an emergency medical technician, or a medical lab technician.

You can also choose to continue your education to become a physician, a pharmacist, dentist, or dental hygienist.

7. Marine Science Technician 

Marine Science Technicians specialize in enforcing environmental protection laws and regulations. As a Marine Science Technician, you’ll be part of a team that’s first to respond to, contain, and clean up environmental disasters and pollution incidents such as oil spills.

You’ll also have the authority to board and inspect commercial vessels to ensure they are operating in a lawful manner and are not hauling hazardous materials. That authority extends to the inspection of commercial waterfront facilities as well.

Marine Science Technicians make about $42,000 to $65,000 per year depending on which state you’re in.

Once you’ve separated from service, you can continue working as a Marine Science Technician for a university, government agency, or research organization. You can also work at the federal, state, or local level as a hazardous material removal specialist.

In addition, many veterans with this type of experience go on to successful careers with The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

8. Culinary Specialist

Best Jobs in the Coast Guard

Are you a foodie? Do you enjoy cooking? If so, you may want to be a Culinary Specialist for the USCG. As a Culinary Specialist, you’ll be responsible for keeping the hungry men and women of the Coast Guard properly fueled by preparing nutritious and great-tasting meals.

You’ll of course be taught how to prepare a wide variety of meals that include meats, vegetables, eggs, fruits, legumes, grains, and beverages. Providing a variety of meals helps keep morale high among enlisted men and women.

In addition to the actual preparation of meals, you’ll be responsible for menu planning, inventory management, safe food storage, and the logistics involved with getting ingredients from different suppliers to the pantries, refrigerators, and freezers on Coast Guard bases and boats.

As a Culinary Specialist, you’ll earn up to $56,000 per year.

Once you’ve left the Coast Guard, you’ll have the skills to work for any restaurant or caterer in America. You can also pursue a career in hotel and restaurant management.

Your experience feeding large groups of people every day will also be of interest to hiring managers at large institutions that have on-site food service or cafeterias, such as hospitals, public schools, universities, government buildings, sports arenas, corporate office buildings, and more.

Of course, you can also use your GI Benefits to enroll in culinary school and become a professional chef.

Transitioning from a Military Career to a Civilian Career 

At Empire Resume, we know that transitioning from a career in the military to a career in the civilian sector comes with many challenges.

We are experts at helping servicemembers make the civilian transition. We specialize in writing military resumes for members of the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. Plus, we offer a $25 discount to separating servicemembers!

Additionally, our constantly updated military-to-civilian blog offers the most useful and effective ways to help you with your job search. Contact us today for more information. 

Dr. Phillip Gold is President/CEO of Empire Resume and has vast experience writing resumes for both professionals and servicemembers transitioning from the military into civilian roles. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and was responsible for leading nuclear missile security. Phillip is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and holds a BA in Communications from The Ohio State University, an MS in Instructional Technology, an MBA in Finance, and a PhD in Finance. 

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