Advancement in the Coast Guard's enlisted corps involves completing a number of items, including (but not limited to)
performance evaluations ("marks")
demonstrating proficiency in the skills of the next higher pay grade in your rating
completing a rating-specific course
passing a written test on rating-specific knowledge
completing professional military education performance requirements (E-PME)
passing a written test on professional military education knowledge
passing a servicewide exam (SWE)
The way the skills and knowledge portions of the process relate to each other are illustrated on this diagram. For a fuller description of the process, check out the Enlisted Non-Resident Training and Enlisted Professional Military Education pages of this web site.
Advancement past pay grade E-3 requires an enlisted Coast Guard person to be designated as a member of one of the Coast Guard's 18 active-duty and two reserve occupational specialties ("ratings"). Most ratings require a non-rate to attend formal training to acquire the required competencies, knowledge, and skills. A few ratings allow non-rates to accomplish this by on-the-job training and by passing an EOCT, a process known as "striking".
To provide skill training for its enlisted personnel, the Coast Guard has 16 "A" Schools located at three training centers. To enter the aviation ratings, your vision can be no worse than 20/100 uncorrected and must be correctable to 20/20. In addition, you need normal color vision to enter the aviation ratings and any rating that requires you to navigate or work with electricity. It is important to know that most of our schools have a waiting list. They range from a few months to over two years for some ratings. You must have a minimum of 30 months remaining on your enlistment before you can enter any Class A school. If the school you want has a very lengthy wait, you may need to extend your enlistment a number of months to bring the total left on your enlistment up to 30 months.
The training centers which host each rating's (or specialty's) school, their locations, and the ASVAB scores needed to qualify for each school are listed below.
Among other things, TraCen Petaluma hosts "A" schools for seven rates. These ratings, along with the ASVAB/AFCT scores required to qualify for each, are listed below.
Electronics Technician (ET): EI + GS + MK = 172 and AR at least 52. You can also qualify if your AFQT is 65 or higher.
Food Specialist (FS): AR + VE = 105
Health Services Technician (HS): AR + GS+ MK + VE = 207 and AR at least 50
Information Systems Technician (IT): EI + GS + MK = 172 and AR at least 52. You can also qualify if your AFQT is 65 or higher.
Operations Specialist (OS): AR + VE = 105
Storekeeper (SK): AR + VE = 105 and VE at least 51
Yeoman (YN): AR + VE = 105
TraCen Yorktown, in addition to hosting various other commands, offers enlisted personnel the chance to enter seven different ratings. These ratings, along with the ASVAB/AFCT scores required to qualify for each, are listed below.
Boatswain's Mate (BM): AR + VE = 100
Damage Controlman (DC): AS+ MC + VE = 155
Electrician's Mate (EM): EI + GS + MK = 153 and AR at least 52
Gunner's Mate (GM): AR + EI + GS+ MK = 209
Intelligence Specialist (IS): AR + VE = 109
Machinery Technician (MK): AR + AS+ MC = 154 or AR + VE = 105
Marine Science Technician (MST): AR+ VE = 114 and MK at least 56
Enlisted personnel who enter the Coast Guard's three aviation ratings all receive their initial training at AvTecTraCen Elizabeth City, which is also the home of an operational Coast Guard Air Station. These ratings, along with the ASVAB/AFCT scores required to qualify for each, are listed below.
Aviation Maintenance Technician (AMT): AR + AS+ EI + MC = 220 and AR at least 52. You can also qualify if your AFQT is 65 or higher.
Aviation Survival Technician (AST): AS + MC + VE = 162 and AR at least 52. You can also qualify if your AFQT is 65 or higher.
Avionics Technician (AET): EI + GS + MK = 172 and AR at least 52. You can also qualify if your AFQT is 65 or higher.
The Coast Guard's Public Affairs Specialists (PA) receive their training at the Defense Information School at Ft. George G. Meade in Maryland. To qualify, applicants' AR and VE ASVAB/AFCT scores must total at least 109 and the VE score must be 55 or higher.
The Coast Guard's Maritime Enforcement Specialist (ME) rating "A" School is located at the Maritime Law Enforcement Academy (MLEA). The course length is 10 weeks. To qualify for ME "A" School you need a composite ASVAB/AFCT score (AR + VE) of 100 or higher.
The striker program has long been an alternative path by which enlisted personnel can enter a number of ratings. Because the process involves on-the-job training and self-study, rather than classroom studies, the striker program is arguably the most difficult way to enter one of the Coast Guard's enlisted professions. On-the-job training (OJT) and self-study require extraordinary self-discipline and persistence, but result in in-depth rating knowledge and excellent skills acquired through hands-on learning.
The ratings that are open to strikers are:
Striking does not require you to have any specific ASVAB scores. For complete, up-to-date information about striking go to Article 3.C. of the Enlisted Accessions, Evaluations, and Advancements Manual (COMDTINST M1000.2).
ALCOAST 591/10 announced that the BM, DC, MK, and SK striker programs have been reinstated indefinitely. However, the EM and YN striker programs have been terminated because most EPQs for those ratings can’t be completed outside of “A” school or the YN3 distance learning program.
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Other aspects of career development for enlisted military personnel include preparing an individual development plan (IDP) and pursuing extra training and education.
The Individual Development Plan (IDP) is a developmental tool intended for use by all members of the Coast Guard workforce (military and civilian). However, some sections or references may pertain more to either the civilian or military workforce.
The IDP is a valuable performance enhancement and career development tool. The IDP guide (accessible through the link above) is designed to acquaint you with the purpose, goals, steps, and value of an IDP.