When you think cyber, the image of an officer scanning code on a computer to protect a system or network might come to mind.
But did you know that the Coast Guard is also looking for officers who can leverage cyber experience to increase mission effectiveness in other career fields?
Coast Guard officers have broad and diverse career paths that evolve over multiple tours. Among the opportunities available to junior officers, proceeding on a dual track between the operations ashore and cyber specialties is one of many ways to cultivate impactful skill sets and broad understanding of Coast Guard missions. At sectors, these officers will typically perform waterways management (WWM), facility inspections (FAC), or emergency management and force readiness (FMFR) functions. There they will learn to become leaders in the local port community, helping to ensure the safety and security of the MTS. They will represent the Captain of the Port (COTP) at different venues, such as the Cybersecurity subcommittee of the local area Maritime Security Committee.
That's just one of the many career paths highlighted in the updated Cyberspace Officer Career Guide, which offers new details on what a cyber career in the service could look like.
The new edition replaces the initial guide, which the Office of Cyberspace Forces (CG-791) released in 2020 to help junior officers in their first seven to 10 years plan their careers. Back then, the focus was on establishing cyber as an operational domain like, say, aviation, where someone could serve multiple tours.
“Most of the previous messaging was on the operational side,” said Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Vanderslice, workforce management team lead within the Office of Cyberspace Forces. “It was sort of, all paths in cyber lead to operational cyber.”
The updated guide stresses how cyber overlaps with and enables other missions. The majority of the C5I workforce is on the mission support side, Vanderslice says. So, it better highlights the reality of a cyber career where you’ll do an operational tour, then a mission support tour, before you’re back to an operational tour. An example would be an officer who attends the information assurance post graduate program, does a payback in CG-6, and then favorably competes to be a team lead at Coast Guard Cyber Command.
The new career guide also allows senior leaders to provide guidance and mentorship to Coast Guard officers aspiring to a career in cyber.
Officers who want a cyber career, can pursue one of two paths, which have been fleshed out in more detail from the previous edition:
- If you desire to stay in the cyberspace community, likely a majority of cyber roles
- Fill assignments in Cyber IT, Cybersecurity and Cyberspace Effects sub-specialties
- Assigned to Cyberspace Operations billets in CG Cyber, CG-9 acquisitions, C5I Engineering, etc.
- If you want to maintain a career in cyberspace and another community
- Dual path officers have primary/secondary career tracks; operations afloat/cyberspace operations or operations ashore/cyberspace operations
- Fill assignments in and out of the cyberspace community
- Enables you to become a skilled specialist and use your cyber skills
The updated guide also underscores how cyber careers link back to protecting the Marine Transportation System (MTS). In the forward, Rear Adm. Todd Wiemers sees the Coast Guard of the future providing “deployable teams equipped to conduct assessment and incident response actions.”
To find out more about officer careers in cyber, check out the 2022 Cyberspace Officer Career Guide.
For help with determining whether you would be competitive or qualify for a cyber position, please reach out to Career Guidance and Counseling in OPM-4.
If you have additional questions about the guide or cyberspace officer careers, please email the Office of Cyberspace Forces.
- OPM-4 Career Counseling portal site (CAC required)
- OPM-4 Counseling requests email
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