Recruiting Alaska

Chief Petty Officer Amy Johnson, a Coast Guard intelligence specialist and the recruiter in charge of the Anchorage office, answers questions over the phone from a potential Coast Guard recruit Oct. 2, 2012. In 2011, the Anchorage office helped around 30 people join the service, roughly 4 percent of all those who were interested in joining. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class David Mosley

Situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent is Alaska, the largest state in the United States. Despite its immense size, two and a half times bigger than Texas, Alaska ranks 46 in the nation for population. As noted in the 2011 national survey, approximately half of the more than 722,000 residents of Alaska live within the Anchorage metropolitan area, and Anchorage is home of the only Coast Guard recruiting office for the state.

Located in a shopping mall on the south side of the city is Coast Guard Recruiting Office Anchorage and the three recruiters stationed there.  The office is the entry point for new active and reserve duty recruits and applicants to the Coast Guard’s Officer Candidate School.  In 2011, the Anchorage office helped around 30 people join the service.  That is roughly 4 percent of all those who are interested in joining.

“The size of Alaska is a challenge to cover with just three people,” Chief Petty Officer Amy Johnson, a Coast Guard intelligence specialist and the recruiter in charge of the Anchorage office.  “We are not able to visit all the high schools, especially in some of the smaller or remote locations, so we have to rely heavily upon e-mail, mail, phones and even the fax.”

In 2013 the Coast Guard is scheduled to recruit the lowest number of people since they began tracking the numbers in 1958.  However, the demand for reservists is greater now than it has ever been. 

“We are looking for motivated Alaskans who want to serve their country by joining the Coast Guard Reserves and serve from home,” said Johnson.  “We currently have openings in Alaska for maritime enforcement specialists and marine science technicians.  There are also other job opportunities for reservists; unfortunately most of them are outside of the state.”

Maritime enforcement specialists are well trained professionals in knowledge and skills pertaining to law enforcement and security duties. As such, members of this rating can be expected to be assigned challenging duties including traditional maritime law enforcement, anti-terrorism force protection, port security and safety, as well as providing unit-level training in these fields.  Please visit the following link for more information about this job: http://www.gocoastguard.com/find-your-career/enlisted-opportunities/enlisted-ratings-descriptions/maritime-enforcement-specialist-(me)

Marine science technicians receive intensive specialized training in the foundational skills needed to investigate oil and hazardous-material pollution incidents, supervise pollution cleanup operations, perform commercial waterfront facility and security inspections and conduct safety and security boardings on foreign-flagged vessels coming into the territorial waters of the United States. Please visit the following link for more information about this job: http://www.gocoastguard.com/find-your-career/enlisted-opportunities/enlisted-ratings-descriptions/marine-science-technician-(mst)

If someone wants to join the Coast Guard, there are a few things that Johnson and her team are looking for.

“Since we have such low numbers to recruit this allows us to get the most highly motivated and qualified individuals for the Coast Guard,” said Johnson.  “Currently a majority of our applicants seem to come from communities familiar with the Coast Guard like Kodiak, Sitka and Ketchikan.  We also have a surprising amount of folks from Fairbanks.  We would like to see more applicants from across Alaska.”

Johnson explained that they review applicant’s high school and collage transcripts.  They review the applicant’s score on the ASVAB, a multiple-aptitude battery test that measures developed abilities and helps predict future academic and occupational success in the military.  An applicant needs to be physically fit, be able to swim and participation in volunteering and community service is always an attractive feature.

However, there are some areas Johnson says will disqualify an applicant.  Areas of concern can include ongoing medical issues, criminal convictions and credit history.  Applicants are disqualified if they have ever filed for bankruptcy or missed payments on a loan.

“We want people to be not just interested in joining, but excited to join the Coast Guard,” said Johnson.  “It is impressive when a potential applicant is well dressed and not just showing up in their pajamas.  We want them to treat this as a serious job interview.  Those that do, are the type of people who make an impression upon us and are generally the people we want to recruit.”

“We are looking to bring into the service well rounded individuals who we would want working for us and with us,” said Johnson.

For more information about joining the Coast Guard, visit www.gocoastguard.com

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