The Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force are the most common military enlistment options that people think of when they think of American military enlistment options. Enlisting in the Coast Guard is another option for those who want to serve their country. Although active duty is the most common type of Coast Guard enlistment, recruits may choose to join the reserves if their geographic area and desired field have reserve openings.
Service in the military Enlisting in the Coast Guard entails a commitment to serve wherever needed, which could be domestically or internationally. This commitment is for a period of at least eight years. The most common service breakdown is four years on active duty followed four years in the reserves. In some cases, active duty commitments can be as short as three years or as long as six years. The length of an enlistment contract is determined on a case-by-case basis.
In order to join the Coast Guard on active duty, recruits must meet certain requirements. All applicants must be citizens of the United States or have resident alien status, and they must speak English fluently. No recruit may be younger than 17 years old with parental consent to join or older than 27 years old without parental consent to join. Up to the age of 32, an applicant who has previously served in the military or is enrolled in a “A” school or job training after boot camp may enlist.
Active duty recruits must also meet certain educational requirements. All applicants must have a high school diploma and pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test as well as a physical examination to be eligible for enlistment in the Coast Guard. A General Educational Development (GED) may be sufficient in some cases, but the Coast Guard recruitment office will determine this on a case-by-case basis.
Reserve Coast Guard units may be called to active duty at any time if their services are required. The service commitment for reserve Coast Guard enlistment is usually much shorter than that of active duty. Reservists typically serve two days per month and two weeks per year.
Those interested in joining the reserve Coast Guard must meet many of the same requirements as those who want to join the active duty Coast Guard. The age limit is the most significant difference in the requirements. At the time of enlistment, reservists can be up to 39 years old. In order to qualify for enlistment in the reserves, a candidate must live within 100 miles of a Coast Guard station with reserve opportunities available in the desired field.