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U.S. Coast Guard Enlisted Military Ranks

The United States Coast Guard was originally known as the United States Revenue Cutter Service, and was established by Alexander Hamilton (Dept. of the Treasury) on 04 AUG 1790. For a period of approximately eight years, the Coast Guard was the only naval force of the United States, since the Navy was disbanded in 1790 and not reformed until 1798. The original mission of this branch of the Armed Forces was to collect taxes from smugglers and to counter piracy. While conducting these missions, this force was encouraged to come to the aid of those in need.

Today, the Coast Guard serves a variety of roles, which include Maritime Safety, Maritime Security, and Maritime Stewardship. In order to effectively conduct the missions assigned, the Coast Guard requires a well-trained, physically able, and intelligent enlisted force. These individuals live by the Coast Guard’s motto of Semper Paratus, which means “Always Ready.”

Even though a college degree is not a Coast Guard requirement for an enlisted service member, earning one can benefit an individual. It not only helps to enhance your career as an enlisted member, but it may also lead to other opportunities, such as promotion to Warrant Officer or a commission. To find schools that support your drive to earn a degree, click on the "Find A School" button below:

Coast Guard Seaman Recruit (SR)
Seaman Recruit (SR)

Seaman Recruit (SR) is the lowest rank in the United States Coast Guard. There are two separate pay grades for those members of this rank; one for new recruits and one for members exceeding four months of service.

Coast Guard Seaman Apprentice (SA)
Seaman Apprentice (SA)
A sailor is promoted to Seaman Apprentice (SA) after completion of recruit training. The main duty of a SA at this point is to become proficient at his/her position. The title and insignia depends upon the job. For example, those in engineering and hull personnel, or Fireman Apprentice, wear red stripes.
Coast Guard Seaman (SN)
Seaman (SN)
In order to become a Seaman (SN), one must serve six months as a SA, pass the requirements for SN, and be recommended by the commanding officer. A SN will then be referred to an wear the insignia of his/her community, which will either be Seaman (white stripes), Fireman (red stripes), or Airman (green stripes)..
Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class (PO3)
Petty Officer 3rd Class (PO3)
Petty Officer 3rd Class (PO3) is the first NCO rank in the United States Coast Guard and is contingent upon performance evaluations and rate examinations. A PO3 is expected to be an expert in his/her specialty and possess leadership abilities.
Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class (PO2)
Petty Officer 2nd Class (PO2)
A Petty Officer 2nd Class (PO2) is promoted in a similar fashion to that of a PO3, however, time in service is an added caveat. A PO2’s duties require him or her to continue to display the advanced technical skills commensurate with an individual of that grade, while serving as a leader.
Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class (PO1)
Petty Officer 1st Class (PO1)
A Petty Officer 1st Class (PO1) is eligible to become a Warrant Officer at this rank and grade, however, it is very competitive and only the most qualified individuals will earn this promotion. Individuals that serve as a PO1 continue to lead lower-ranking enlisted personnel and serve as technical experts.
Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer (CPO)
Chief Petty Officer (CPO)
Promotion to Chief Petty Officer (CPO) is earned through superior evaluations scores, specialty examinations, time in service, and peer review. Attaining this rank is a difficult task, and those who have earned it garner a great deal of respect. A CPO is still a leader and technical expert, but is also a role model to junior enlisted personnel.
Coast Guard Senior Chief Petty Officer (SCPO)
Senior Chief Petty Officer (SCPO)
The roles and responsibilities of a Senior Chief Petty Officer (SCPO) are similar to that of a Chief Petty officer. A SCPO may take on more administrative duties at this rank, but he/she is still expected to serve as a technical expert, leader, and role model.
Coast Guard Master Chief Petty Officer (MCPO)
Master Chief Petty Officer (MCPO)
In order to advance to the rank of Master Chief Petty Officer (MCPO), a Senior Chief must be selected for promotion by a board of Master Chiefs. A Master Chief continues to provide the leadership and technical skills expected of an individual of this rank.
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard (MCPOCG)
The Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard (MCPOCG) is the highest ranking enlisted member in the United States Coast Guard. He/She is appointed by the Commandant of the Coast Guard and serves as the spokesperson of the enlisted force.
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