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Coast Guard Civilian Careers

Coast Guard Civilian Careers : Frequently Asked Questions

DO I HAVE TO ENLIST?
No. The U.S. Coast Guard offers numerous positions for civilian personnel. In fact, the U.S. Coast Guard includes over 7,000 civilians working in over 200 different types of positions.

DO I HAVE TO KNOW NAUTICAL TERMS AND SUCH?
No. Civilian positions in the U.S. Coast Guard are not sea-going in nature. They involve other types of work, i.e. accounting, administrative support, computer/IT, engineering, etc. Some technical positions may require a knowledge of the type of work that the U.S. Coast Guard is generally engaged in. For details, refer to the Vacancy Announcement of the position you desire. The education and knowledge requirements will be listed there.

WHERE CAN I WORK?
U.S. Coast Guard civilian personnel work in over 100 locations across America. For further information, visit our location page.

DO I HAVE TO KNOW HOW TO SWIM?
It's always a good idea to know how to swim. But no, it is not a prerequisite for joining us in a civilian position.

WHAT EDUCATION OR DEGREE DO I NEED?
That depends on the type of position for which you wish to apply. Some professional positions do require a college degree, other positions may require a high school diploma, a GED, or other training/education, supplemented by experience. Like any other employer, the U.S. Coast Guard expects you to be well qualified for the job. The best thing to do is to refer to the Vacancy Announcement of the position you desire. The education and experience requirements will be listed there.

WHAT IS THE PAY LIKE FOR CIVILIAN PERSONNEL?
Compensation for civilian personnel at the U.S. Coast Guard is very competitive. It follows the federal government's General Schedule pay rates, where positions are assigned pay grades or levels (i.e., GS-9, GS-10, etc). For more information, refer to the Vacancy Announcement of the position you desire. The General Schedule pay rate will be listed there.

WHAT TYPES OF CIVILIAN JOBS DOES THE U.S. COAST GUARD HIRE?
Civilian jobs in the U.S. Coast Guard encompass over 200 different types of roles: professional, technical, engineering, computer/I.T., administrative, clerical, the trades (HVAC, electrical, etc.), and more.

CAN I WORK PART TIME?
Yes, some civilian positions are part time. For best results, refer to the Vacancy Announcement of the position you desire. The position will be listed there as either full- or part-time.

DO I HAVE TO KNOW CPR AND WATER LIFESAVING TECHNIQUES?
It would be a good idea to have these skills. But no, you do not need to know CPR and/or water lifesaving techniques to join the U.S. Coast Guard in a civilian position.

WILL I WEAR A UNIFORM?
Only if you would normally do so in your civilian job. For instance, firefighter personnel may have a work uniform (but not a U.S. Coast Guard military uniform). Civilian personnel in the U.S. Coast Guard are like any workforce in the private sector; they are expected to dress according to their work environment and their position.

WILL I GO AWAY FOR TRAINING, LIKE BOOT CAMP?
No. While the U.S. Coast Guard offers excellent training programs and opportunities for ongoing skill development, you will not attend a military-style boot camp as part of your hiring process. Joining the U.S. Coast Guard in a civilian position can be compared to joining a private sector company, with similar orientation, training, mentoring, and other support.

SOME FAQ'S ABOUT FEDERAL JOBS AND HIRING

HOW DO I APPLY?
The information currently on your resume may not be enough to satisfy government employers. Review the booklet Applying for a Federal Job from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM). This booklet lists all the information an applicant needs to provide for federal employment. A resume containing all the required information is called a "federal resume" although there is no mandated form.

WHAT ARE KSA FACTORS AND WHAT DO I DO WITH THEM?
Vacancy Announcements list the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities -- known as KSA factors -- an agency wants to see in a candidate. Applicants need to describe in writing how their experiences match the desired KSA factors. KSAs are very important to federal employers -- how far you get in the application process will likely be determined by your ability to convincingly address these factors. Be sure to include as much information as you can that responds to each KSA factor, even if that information is already included on your federal resume.

ARE THERE INTERNSHIPS OR OTHER OPPORTUNITIES FOR STUDENTS?
Federal agencies do offer internships but the government doesn't list them in one place. The Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP) provides students with part-time federal jobs during the school year or during the summer that do not have to be directly related to their major or career goals. The Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) offers work experience directly related to a student's academic studies and requires commitments from the student, their school, and the employing agency. Students may be eligible for permanent employment after completing their education and successfully meeting work requirements. The Minority Serving Institutions Internship Program (MSIIP) is committed to increasing diversity in its civilian workforce by providing internships opportunities. Interns work during the spring, summer, and fall months in Coast Guard locations nationwide.

IS IT POSSIBLE TO GET A FEDERAL JOB WITHOUT GOING THROUGH THE USUAL HIRING PROCESS?
Yes, through the Presidential Management Fellows Program.

THE PRESIDENTIAL MANAGEMENT FELLOWS (PMF) PROGRAM is a two-year program open to all graduate students in their final year of study. Applicants must first be nominated by their school and then make it through the program's rigorous evaluation program. PMF positions are structured by each individual agency and differ widely. The purpose of the PMF Program is to attract outstanding men and women from a wide variety of academic disciplines and career paths who have a clear interest in and a commitment to excellence in the leadership and management of public policies and programs.

For more information about federal jobs and hiring, visit: www.opm.gov or www.usajobs.com

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Last Modified 9/19/2013