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My Coast Guard
Commentary | July 21, 2023

New conduits for EM lateral entry and post-service civilian careers

By Elizabeth Christopher, MyCG Staff Writer

In a win for both the Coast Guard and recruits alike, recent changes to the electrician’s mate (EM) rating lateral entry program have eased entry requirements for students pursuing a career in the electrical field.  

The Coast Guard Recruiting Command recently signed a letter of intent (LOI) with the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), a not for profit provider of construction curricula. NCCER’s curricula often serves as the basis for high school, community college and vocational school programs — key locations for recruiting.  

The LOI establishes a standard process for graduates who followed NCCER curriculum in school to join the Coast Guard as EM3s or EM2s. Once certified, recruits will be evaluated by the EM rating force master chief (RFMC) and rating knowledge manager, and then attend an agile EM “A” school for two to six weeks before graduating as an EM3 or EM2 — a process that generally takes years for a recruit to complete.  

This time savings, paired with the $15,000 enlistment bonus authorized for new EM recruits, will be attractive incentives for recent graduates hoping to jumpstart their careers. 

Lateral entry continues to gain traction  

The LOI marks just another win for the lateral entry program. As the Coast Guard navigates recruitment challenges, lateral entry has even helped usher in older recruits who are looking for change of pace or to diversify their careers.  

According to School Chief Electrician’s Mate Senior Chief Petty Officer Jason Sardinas, the program welcomes individuals with critical skillsets or prior military experience. “Those with experience in HVAC, power distribution plants, industrial technicians, ship engineers — all of that experience can be considered for the EM lateral entry program.”  

Sardinas is enthusiastic about the program’s progress, sharing that a member recently transitioned directly to E5 thanks to their degree in electrical engineering and prior certified work experience. 

Setting up active duty and reserve members for later success  

In addition to the EM lateral entry LOI, NCCER now includes the Coast Guard in its “Hard Hat Heroes” program. Under Hard Hat Heroes, active duty and reserve members can apply for military equivalency credentials.  

Experience gained within the Coast Guard — such as EM “A” school and machinery technician “C” school accreditations — translates into civilian career licensing. Under this arrangement, participants avoid the monetary and time investments needed for licensing, immediately advancing their civilian careers upon leaving the Coast Guard. 

For more information, please contact EM RFMC, Master Chief Petty Officer Robert L. Gilpin at or Electrician’s Mate Senior Chief Petty Officer Jason Sardinas at

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