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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Oct. 4, 2023

School agreements streamline the Lateral Entry Program

By AJ Pulkkinen, MyCG writer

To address workforce gaps in the Coast Guard’s open ratings at mid-grade ranks, the Coast Guard Recruiting Command is signing Letters of Intent with technical schools to afford graduates of specific training programs the opportunity to enter the Coast Guard as E4s or E5s. 

The respective Rating Force Master Chiefs (RFMC), Rating Knowledge Managers and school chief’s, colloquially known as the rating trinity, review the program’s curriculum and determine that graduates will have the requisite knowledge to be eligible for lateral entry into that rating as a petty officer. For instance, a person graduating with an Associates of Applied Science Culinary Arts from Central Oregon Community College Cascade Culinary Institute in Bend, Oregon, has demonstrated their competence to be a Culinary Specialist 2nd Class. 

The local recruiting office and the school administration coordinate to ensure students in those programs are aware of their Coast Guard lateral entry eligibility. Any student who expresses interest will be screened by a production recruiter to ensure they meet the other enlistment criteria. Once the applicant is deemed fully qualified, they go to initial military training and then they will graduate at advanced paygrade and head off to their first duty assignment.  

“These Letters of Intent are a great way to identify an applicant’s lateral entry options based on the curriculum they complete,” said Capt. Benjamin Keffer, commanding officer of Coast Guard Recruiting Command. “They each clearly identify pathways for interested students to help address the body-to-billet gap at the E4 to E5 level and bring much needed expertise to the field.”  

Current programs with established lateral pathways using Letters of Intent 


Associates of Applied Science Marine Technology from Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington, North Carolina 

Diploma of completion for Professional Mariner Training from Chapman School of Seamanship in Stuart, Florida 

BM3 or BM2 

Bachelor of Science in Maritime Technology from Great Lakes Maritime Academy in Traverse City, Michigan 

Associates of Applied Science in Nautical Science from The Northeast Maritime Institute in Fairhaven, Massachusetts 


Associates of Applied Science Culinary Arts from Central Oregon Community College Cascade Culinary Institute in Bend, Oregon 

EM3 or EM2 

Electrical Training levels I-IV from Virginia Technical Academy in Newport News, Virginia 

Electrical Training levels I-IV from National Center for Construction Education and Research in Alachua, Florida 


Do you know of other schools with programs that seem to align well with a specific rating? Submit your recommendation to the Recruiting Incident Management Team


Direct Entry Petty Officer Training (DEPOT) 

Maximum Efforts to Support Recruiting – ALCOAST 175/22