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Best Jobs for Coast Guard Veterans

Jan 02, 2019

Individuals with Coast Guard experience may find a number of challenging career opportunities that utilize their technical, leadership, or maritime skills. Below are five career choices well-suited to Coast Guard veterans.

Career Comparison

Job Title Median Wage (2016)* Job Growth (2016-2026)* Applicable Military Skills/Traits
Police and Detectives $61,600 7% Experience in law enforcement techniques and procedures
Management Analysts $81,330 14% Organizational and problem solving skills
Emergency Management Directors $70,500 8% Prior experience as first responders
Computer Support Specialists $52,160 11% Technical experience with computer and navigation systems
Water Transportation Workers $54,870 8% Experience on the water with boats and ships

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

5 Solid Jobs for Coast Guard Veterans

Coast Guard veterans may find that they have a number of positive career tracks open to them. Their background in roles like transportation specialist, machinery mechanic, and maritime enforcement specialist could be valuable to employers in several fields. Experience in law enforcement, emergency management, and at sea may give Coast Guard veterans an edge in the following careers.

Police and Detectives

The Coast Guard is unique among the military branches because law enforcement in both national and international waters is part of its mission. As such, Coast Guard veterans may find a career in law enforcement a worthwhile opportunity.

Police and detectives enforce laws and maintain order. The primary difference between police and detectives is one of focus. Both are involved in preventing and solving crime, but police spend much of their time on patrol, reacting to emergencies and events. Detectives are involved in solving crimes after the fact. Both positions are a good fit for Coast Guard veterans. It is possible to enter the field without a bachelor's degree, although many law enforcement agencies -- particularly at the federal level -- require one.

Management Analysts

Also frequently referred to as management consultants, management analysts help organizations become more efficient and effective. Coast Guard veterans who have experience in leadership and management may stand out among job seekers.

The position is most often an office position, though travel to the site of operations may be necessary. The site of operations will depend upon the specific business and it could range from a retail or wholesale shipping warehouse, to an oil field, or a port. Management analysts are expected to sort through vast amounts of data and identify the hidden failings and strengths of the operation. They then recommend action and may be asked to provide leadership in transitions. A bachelor's degree is required.

Emergency Management Directors

Frequently, the Coast Guard is included in the first responder teams in the case of disasters along the coast. Their experience and familiarity with policies and procedures of emergency management services can be an advantage in this career.

While the national news cameras focus on the work of emergency management at the time of natural disasters, this provides a distorted view of the job. Most of the director's time is spent planning and preparing for untoward events. The preparation and training of staff are necessary to limit losses when events do occur. They often have close ties with directors in the region and nationally, officials throughout the government, community groups, and non-profits. A bachelor's degree is necessary.

Computer Support Specialists

Coast Guard veterans who were assigned duty with electronics and navigation systems may find this a likely career. Experience with equipment in demanding situations can provide a competitive edge over other job seekers.

There are a wide range of options for those working in the computer support specialist job category. At one level, there are the specialists who help consumers with their computer programs, installing apps, and determining if there is a hardware issue. For this level of employment, experience with computer systems is generally adequate and a degree may not be necessary. At another level, support specialists may work within a large business or enterprise, providing support to staff throughout the company. For this position, a relevant bachelor's degree is likely to be required. For almost all levels, a variety of certifications for specific software and systems may be desirable or required.

Water Transportation Workers

Not everyone in the Coast Guard works on board ship all of the time, but for those who enjoy the water, a career in water transportation may be rewarding. Experience and logged hours can give Coast Guard veterans an advantage in a competitive marketplace.

Water transportation workers are responsible for maintaining, operating, and piloting vessels on the water. These vessels may transport cargo or they may transport people. The work may involve a short water taxi ride across a harbor or a longer trip down the coast. There are many options in this field, as it includes positions from maintenance to captain. Education requirements vary greatly by the specific job. For most positions the Transportation Worker Identification Credential is required, although degrees are not. More advanced positions, such as mates and ship engineers, could require both a bachelor's degree and certifications.

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