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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Oct. 17, 2023

Get the 101 on the Coast Guard’s Voluntary Credentialing Program

By AJ Pulkkinen, MyCG writer

No matter where you are in your career, you can benefit from getting a credential. If you intend to stay in the Service, credentials are a great way to set yourself apart for boards and panels as it shows your dedication to professionalism and improving your craft. If you plan to move on from the Service, credentials help you translate your military training and experience into industry-wide competencies civilian employers desire and can easily recognize. Earning a credential can help you get hired, get a better job, or be promoted sooner! 

Cue the Coast Guard’s Voluntary Credentialing Program (VCP).  

VCP is dedicated to establishing professional credentialing equivalency programs and paying expenses for personnel to obtain credentials. Coast Guard active duty, reserve, and civilian members can use Credentialing Assistance (CA) to pay for credentials and for training that leads to a credential listed on CG COOL. CA is in addition to the Tuition Assistance (TA) members have every fiscal year. For fiscal year 2023, that’s $9,000, which far outpaces what other military services offer! 

Between the two main components of VCP, Military to Mariner Program (M2M) and CG COOL (Credentialing Opportunities On-Line), there is a credential for you! M2M is dedicated to applying your seagoing military experience toward a Merchant Mariner career. CG COOL has a wide range of credentials spanning from leadership to technical studies.    

Military to Mariner (M2M) 

The M2M Program pays expenses for military personnel to obtain merchant mariner credentials (MMCs), including the training and administrative fees. It is intended to assist service members who seek future civilian employment in the maritime industry. 

Former Petty Officer 2nd Class Davyn Owen recently completed the M2M Qualified Member of the Engineering Department (QMED) course, a significant step in earning his National Merchant Mariner credential. Soon, Owen will be working in the engine rooms on ocean going tugboats on the West Coast. To members interested in pursuing the M2M path, Owen has this advice: “Give yourself a year to complete the entire process of pulling together the paperwork, getting sign-offs, and studying for the exam. And remember to allow time for the National Maritime Center to process it all.”  

To get started on your Merchant Mariner Credentials, check out the Coast Guard’s VCP site which has all the info you need. You can also send an email to 


CG COOL identifies credentials related to your rating, specialty or collateral duty. It also helps to identify pathways for you to obtain your credentials. The possibilities under the CG COOL umbrella are far-reaching. Check out the "GET CERTIFIED" tab at the top of the CG COOL site.  

Interested in leadership certifications? Take a look at a national-level certification in Resilience-Building Leadership Professional. Do you enjoy helping others with their fitness goals? Maybe the American College of Sports Medicine’ Certified Group Exercise Instructors (ACSM-GEI) National-level certification is for you! 

CG COOL offers a simple five-step process to obtain your credential: 

  • Go to CG COOL to find & select your desired credentials 
  • Submit a Credentialing Assistance (CA) request thru MyCG Ed 
  • Once approved, pay for approved fees and submit for reimbursement in MyCG Ed 
  • Get your credential 
  • Report your credential to MyCG Ed within 30 days