U.S. Coast Guard ratings are like the rating system used by the Navy, known as Navy Enlistment Classification (NEC) codes. The U.S. Army and Marines use Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) codes, and the U.S. Air Force uses the Air Force Specialty Codes (AFSC).
Don’t confuse “ratings” with “rates.” Rates are the Navy and Coast Guard’s enlisted pay grades. For example, a petty officer third class whose rating is boatswain’s mate is a boatswain’s mate third class (BM3). For ranks E-7 and above, the rate and ratings are reversed. For example, a master chief aviation survival technician is abbreviated as ASTCM.
A Guide to All Coast Guard Enlisted Ratings
Here are the different occupational fields for Coast Guard enlisted members:
- AMT – Aviation Maintenance Technician
Aviation maintenance technicians inspect, service, maintain and repair aircraft power plant, power train and structural systems. They also maintain metal, composite and fiberglass materials, fabricate cables and perform aircraft corrosion control and basic electrical troubleshooting. They hold aircrew positions on Coast Guard aircraft.
- AST – Aviation Survival Technician
Service members in this field inspect, service, maintain and repair aircraft and aircrew survival equipment and rescue devices. They also perform duties as rescue swimmers and provide aircrew survival training.
- AET – Avionics Electrical Technician
These technicians inspect, service, maintain and repair aircraft power, communications, navigation, auto flight and sensor systems. They also hold aircrew positions on Coast Guard aircraft.
Administrative and Scientific Group
- HS – Health Services Technician
Service members in this career field administer medicine, apply first aid, assist the duties operating room, tend to patients or assist dental officers.
- MST – Marine Science Technician
Marine science technicians conduct marine-safety activities. These include investigating pollution incidents, monitoring pollution cleanups, conducting harbor patrols for port safety and security, boarding foreign vessels to enforce pollution and navigation safety laws, inspecting waterfront facilities and supervising the loading of explosives on vessels.
- MU – Musician
Musicians are members of the Coast Guard Band at the Coast Guard Academy. They must audition and be accepted into the band. After recruit training, they enlist in the United States Coast Guard for four years at the rank of musician first class (E-6).
- PA – Public Affairs Specialist
Public affairs specialists report and edit news stories and publish information about service members and activities through magazines, radio and television, and newspapers. They also shoot and develop film and photos.
- SK – Storekeeper
Storekeepers order, receive, inventory, store and issue clothing, equipment, food and other supply items.
- CS – Culinary Specialist
Culinary specialists cook, bake, prepare meals, keep records, help order supplies and inspect food.
- YN – Yeoman
These human resource specialists prepare and route correspondence and reports and maintain personnel records and publications. They are also responsible for processing and counseling members on various pay entitlements.
Deck and Weapons Group
- BM – Boatswain’s Mate
Boatswain’s mates operate small boats, store cargo, handle ropes and lines and direct work of the deck force. They also perform the navigation of the ship’s steering, visual communication and maintenance of navigational aids, as well as supervise lookouts.
- ME – Maritime Law Enforcement Specialist
Service members in this career field serve as specialists in maritime law enforcement and security.
- GM – Gunner’s Mate
Gunner’s mates operate and perform maintenance on rocket launchers, guns and gun mounts and guided-missile launching systems. Their job is to inspect and repair electrical, electronic, mechanical and hydraulic systems.
- OS – Operations Specialist
These specialists operate telecommunications equipment and sensors. They also control operations in Rescue Coordination Centers, cutters and stations.
- IS – Intelligence specialist
Intelligence specialists are responsible for collecting and interpreting intelligence, specifically about enemies or potential enemies. They analyze photos and prepare charts, maps and reports that describe the strategic situation all over the world.
Engineering and Hull Group
- DC – Damage Controlman
Damage controlmen fabricate, install and repair shipboard structures, plumbing and piping systems. They also perform damage control in firefighting and operate nuclear, biological, chemical and radiological defense equipment.
- EM – Electrician’s Mate
Electrician’s mates test, maintain and repair electrical equipment. This includes navigation, identification, detection, reconnaissance and special-purpose equipment. They are responsible for conducting electrical training for all machinist technicians throughout the fleet.
- ET – Electronics Technician
These technicians maintain towers and antennas and all electronic equipment used for communications, detection ranging, recognition and countermeasures, worldwide navigational systems, computers and sonars.
- MK – Machinery Technician
Machinery technicians operate, maintain and repair the ship’s propulsion, auxiliary equipment and outside equipment such as steering, refrigeration/air conditioning and steam equipment.
- IT – Information Systems Technician
Information systems technicians operate communication equipment and transmit, receive and process all forms of military record and voice communications. They also install and maintain telecommunications equipment.
The U.S. Coast Guard Officer Specialty Codes
The U.S. Coast Guard uses Officer Specialty Codes to identify officer careers within the Coast Guard. All OSCs begin with “CG,” and then the three following letters are the abbreviation for the specialty (e.g., AVI for aviation). The two digits after the specialty are sequential numbers for each specialty, followed by an A, J or M to indicate if they are apprentices, journeymen or masters. For example, OSC CGAVI10A indicates an aviation apprentice.
Those with subspecialties have slightly different OSCs. The OSC still begins with CG and the three-digit specialty code, followed by the two-digit subspecialty. The last digit indicates the achieved level. For example, OSC CGAVI112 indicates a fixed-wing aviation level II.
A Guide to All U.S. Coast Guard Officer Specialty Codes
Here are the different occupational fields for Coast Guard officers:
- AEN – Aeronautical Engineering
Services in this field manage aeronautical engineering aircraft systems or depot-level maintenance and support programs. They also manage aviation program finances, information systems and aviation electronics, avionics, sensor systems and information systems for all Coast Guard aircraft.
- AVI – Aviation
Officers in the aviation field have general aviation-related knowledge and skillsets. The aviation specialty has two subspecialties, CG-AVI11 fixed-wing aviation and CG-AVI12 rotary wing aviation.
- CEN – Civil Engineering
Officers in the civil engineering field manage the life cycle of real property by providing the planning, budgeting, designing, construction, commissioning, operation and maintenance of land, buildings and structures.
- CYB – Cyber
Officers in the cyber field build, secure, operate, defend and protect Coast Guard and U.S. cyberspace resources. They also conduct related intelligence activities, enable future operations and project power in or through cyberspace.
- FIN – Financial Resource Management
Officers in this field perform budget and financial analysis, budget formulation and execution, accounting operations, internal controls, audit readiness and supply and inventory management.
- INT – Intel
Intelligence officers perform a wide range of duties associated with the collection, analysis, processing and dissemination of intelligence.
- LGL – Legal
Officers in the legal field provide commanders with proactive legal advice and counsel across the full range of Coast Guard operations. They must pass the bar and be accepted into the Coast Guard judge advocate general’s program.
- NAP – Non-ADPL Programs
Non-active duty promotion list (non-ADPL) specialty officers have vital skillsets and come to the Coast Guard from other services. These specialties include public health services and chaplains.
- NEN – Naval Engineering
Naval engineers are responsible for executing and overseeing the design, construction, operation, maintenance and sustainment of cutters and boats.
- OAF – Operations Afloat
Operations afloat specialty officers are responsible for the safe navigation of Coast Guard cutters. They also administer and enforce policies. There are two subspecialties, aids to navigation and ice operations.
- OAP – Operations Ashore-Prevention
Operations ashore-prevention specialty officers manage and execute Coast Guard prevention ashore operations. They have detailed knowledge of the inspection of vessels, facilities, maritime investigations, enforcement of waterway safety and security standards and waterway analyses.
- OAR – Response-Ashore
Response-ashore specialty officers may be involved in search and rescue, maritime-security co-ordination, contingency preparedness and other critical roles.
- PHA – Physician Assistant
Physician assistants are medical officers with degrees from accredited civilian or military training programs who are board-certified by the National Commission on the Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).
- RCM – Reserve Program Administrators
Reserve program administrators specialize in organizing, recruiting and training the reserve component.
Jim spent 22 years on active duty, climbing the ranks from airman basic to a decorated Air Force major. Stationed all over the world, he held many high-level posts, including chief of foreign military sales at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Jim earned his Ph.D. through the Montgomery Era GI Bill and spent 13 years teaching African Studies in Pennsylvania. Jim is also an award-winning travel writer.
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