The Coast Guard's warrant officer program allows senior enlistees – 8 years of service and E-6 or above (E-6 must be in the top 50% on the eligibility list for E-7) – to obtain appointments to commissioned warrant officer. Selection boards, composed of senior officers of experience, maturity, and varied backgrounds, are convened annually. Each candidate’s qualifications are evaluated, and the board recommends those deemed best qualified to become one of the Coast Guard’s technical experts. The application process is the very similar to that for OCS.
Open to active duty enlistees at or above PO1 level (if PO1, must be in top 50% on the eligibility list for advancement to E-7 as a result of the Servicewide Examination (SWE) administered in May before the 01 January deadline). All particulars are laid out in the Art. 1.D. of the Personnel Manual.
The Direct Commission Engineer (DCE) program is not widely known, but it allows enlisted personnel with at least an associate's degrees in an engineering field to obtain temporary commissions. The prerequisites for this program are straightforward.
be in pay grade E-5 or above
have served at least 4 years on active duty (no more than 10 years in a DoD service), with at least 2 of those being in the Coast Guard
hold at least an associate’s degree* in a field of interest to the Coast Guard
be between 21 and 41 as of 30 September of the fiscal year in which the selection board convenes
have a minimum GPA of 2.5
meet all physical requirements for a Coast Guard commission
be a U.S. citizen
* The Coast Guard recruiting web site states that applicants need a bachelor's degree to qualify, even though the Recruiting Manual states an associate's degree is required. Coast Guard Recruiting Command (CGRC) states, in an e-mail, that the bachelor's degree requirement has been approved. But because the revision to the Recruiting Manual "has not been signed and printed yet, we are still accepting Associate's degrees or higher. We cannot enforce the new standard until it is in writing."
Anyone who's thinking about applying for the DCE program and only has an associate's degree should submit his/her application ASAP. Again quoting CGRC, "Whenever the new Recruiting Manual is released, the new standards will be enforced!"
Fields of interest to the Coast Guard include:
Command and Control
Engineering Information Technology
To be sure your major is one the Coast Guard is interested in for DCE applicants, contact the DCE Program Coordinator at 703-235-1742.
To be competitive in this program, your degree will need to have come mostly from academic credits rather than credits from military service. Especially important are math, science, and engineering courses (e.g., physics, calculus, analytic geometry, engineering graphics, CAD concepts, differential equations, dynamics, DC and digital circuits, chemistry, computer controlled machinery, industrial electronics, hydraulics, visual and graphic programming, etc.).
After completing a 3- or 5-week orientation course (length depending on your military experience) you will receive a temporary commission as an ENS, LTJG, or LT. If you stay in the Coast Guard after your initial 3-year requirement you may integrate into the regular Coast Guard after being selected for LT. Also, after completing the first year of your 3-year commitment, you will have the opportunity to apply for full-time university graduate or post graduate education. If accepted, the Coast Guard will pay all tuition expenses and salary during your studies.
You can download a booklet describing various duties Coast Guard engineering officers perform. And if you have specific questions about the program or its requirements, contact the Program Coordinator at Coast Guard Recruiting Command at 703-235-1742. The application process is virtually identical to that for OCS and other officer programs. The Coast Guard recruiting web site also has the forms you will need to include in your application, as well as other information.