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  1. #1
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2010

    Default Coast Guard or College?

    Hey, I'm 15 and I'm very interested in being a firefighter when I grow up. I'm not sure whether I should join the go to to college or join the Coast Guard and want to know which option would be more beneficial when I'm trying to be hired as a firefighter. I have the grades and the drive to go to college, and I would be the first one in my family to finish college. However, if I went to college I would probably major in English or History which wouldn't be relevant to firefighting at all. Right now I'm leaning towards joining the coast guard, mainly because I would probably learn skills that would directly benefit firefighting. What would departments value more, a college degree or 4 years in the coast guard?

  2. #2
    Forum Member Tipys's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009


    As most will say it depends on the department.

    So you may want to check to see what the department you want to join prefers.

    IMO. I would Join the Coast Guard. Can go to school at anytime and why not have the Coast Guard pay for it.

    Another big thing is keep your record clean. No DUI no MIP. Anything keep it all clean. Not doing that will pretty much ruin your chances at wanting to become a firefighter no matter which way you go.

  3. #3
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2009


    Every dept is different I believe. FWIW the dept that hired me gave me 5 points for my 6 years in the Air Force, while they would have given me 20 points for an associate's degree. Not sure how "official" those scores are either, just scored like that due to city requirements, etc. Like I said, I got hired with the 5 pts.

    Good Luck!
    Last edited by Lucky2; 01-07-2010 at 02:37 AM.

  4. #4
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    Nov 2009


    what state are you in???

  5. #5
    Forum Member backsteprescue123's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2004


    As someone who is a Firefighter, went to the Coast Guard Academy (until I was injured), and who is going through the process to get into the CG Reserves..... dont go into the Coast Guard just because you want to learn skills that benefit firefighting. And don't worry about your college courses benefiting firefighting either. I know you said that you are 15 so youve still got some time but dont let either of those hold you back.

    I know people who are paid firemen with degrees in molecular biology. I know volunteer firemen who are Anthropologists. Your degree usually doesnt matter but having A degree is what helps.

    You want to go to school and be a firefighter..... go the reserve route. They have programs where you can split your training up over two summers to accomodate your school schedule (but in between summers you drill with your unit like any other member would). They have a ton of options out there for the Coast Guard you just have to keep your eyes open and just dont jump at the first oppourtunity that presents itself.
    These opinions are mine and do not reflect the opinions of any organizations I am affiliated with.

  6. #6
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2006


    In addition to what Jake just said, I'm not sure of your regional location, but up here in the more northeast part of the country, recruiters are actually pushing for CG reservists... Oh and active duty cooks.

    I was going to go in the CG on active duty until recently - I decided against it as well as the doctors at MEPS having trouble with my medical history. Email me if you have any questions.
    My words stated here do not necessarily point towards organizations which I am affiliated with.

  7. #7
    MembersZone Subscriber
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    If the area you want to work will train you with the required certs, I'd go to college and get that knocked out in 4 years or less while the economy is bad making getting hired a longer process for most. If you can handle it, try to volunteer with a local FD for experience.

    Also, check to see if your state accepts the certs you'd receive in the Coast Guard. If not, you'll have some good training, but you'll have to go through the schools all over again.

    And I wouldn't be too worried about what major you decide to pursue. Any degree will get you the incentive (if offered), any bonus points in the hiring process and will usually qualify you for most non-senior admin promotions. English would actually be surprisingly useful, esp if you can incorporate public speaking. You'll do a lot of report writing and community involvement as a firefighter.

    Finally, if the area you're looking at trains all their new hires, another option is to go to college and start applying now. If you're lucky enough to get hired quickly, you will get on the dept, get your seniority started and as soon as you're done with probation, then continue your education. Make sure you make a commitment to yourself to complete your education.

  8. #8
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2010


    There are a lot of variable to consider. What you need to do is find out what military benefit your community recognizes, and how they train their firefighters.

    Many times, what you did in the military, is less important than just having served. All vets get the same benefit when applying.

    Also, many communities want to train their FF's their way, so the training you recieve in the military won't make much of a difference. As a USCG vet I'll say this; Unless it's changed significantly you won't get much firefighting training.

    My suggestion; You're young, and will remain so for quite a while. Do both. Either apply for the CG academy, or go to college then apply for officer candidate school in the USCG. It might seem like a lot of time to invest, but trust me, you'll still be young when you seperate from the service.

    Also, firefighting jobs are not easy to get. Both military service and higher education will benefit you should you not get a fire service job.

    Good Luck.

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