Coast Guard Boot Camp Timeline at a Glance

Class is in session at Coast Guard training center at Cape May, N.J.
The Coast Guard's training center is at Cape May, N.J. (Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley/U.S. Coast Guard)

Schedules & Timelines -- Coast Guard

You are about to get underway on an eight-week journey that will take you to a place where you can serve your country with skill and effectiveness. You will learn skills, you will act as a member of a team and you will learn what it means to live in accordance with core values.

The training is rough. What we do is too important and challenging to be left to people who are unprepared. We save lives and enforce laws, and for these tasks, you need to be mentally and physically tough. The training can be broken down into a few identifiable stages:

  • Forming
  • Company formation
  • Knowledge and skill acquisition
  • Practice
  • Receipt of orders
  • Preparing for the move to the field


When you arrive at the Coast Guard’s training center at Cape May, N.J., on the bus, the forming process begins. The goal is to get you ready to train. Your hair is cut if needed, initial medical screening is performed, uniform issue begins, and there are a host of other administrative events. This is the first huge step toward your transition from civilian to Coast Guardsman. At the end of forming, you may not feel like a military member, but you will begin to look and act like one.

Company Formation

About three days after arriving at Cape May, you and the people with whom you arrived will become a Recruit Training Company. At that time, you will be assigned to a company and you will meet your company commanders. If you are like most people, your company commander ("CC" for short) will be one of the most significant influences in your life. They will help you grow into a Coast Guardsman. You will learn honor, respect and devotion to duty. Your CC also will help you make the transition from civilian to a military professional. Your CC will be tough and demanding. You will grow in ways you never imagined. Probably the best way to think about the CC is as a tough, but fair coach.

Your first weekend with your company will be a challenging time. You will learn how to act as a member of a team and how to obey orders. Many recruits find this the most difficult period in boot camp. Prepare yourself for this: Remember that the beginning is hard, and it gets easier as you learn how to meet the many requirements placed upon you. Your objective here is to get "squared away;" your CC will tell you how to do that.

The Fundamentals

Your first order of business after the company forms is physical fitness training and introduction to your required knowledge. The more required knowledge you can memorize before you arrive for training, the better off you will be. Some of that knowledge is listed in these internet pages (in the section titled "Required Knowledge''). You will start learning military drill, military customs and courtesies, and your basic classes.


At the end of the fourth training week you will take the midterm exam, and when you pass that, your training will take a significant turn. You will complete your assignment data card (ADC), which tells the Coast Guard where you would like to serve. The Coast Guard will assign you to a ship or unit, depending on the needs of the service. So your ADC provides the Coast Guard with an idea of where you want to serve, but you could be assigned anywhere that the Coast Guard needs you.

Your training during this period will be much more practical and hands-on. You will learn firefighting and marksmanship. You will learn about line handling and seamanship, and you will continue with classroom instruction. At the end of the fifth training week, you receive your orders.

The Final Phase

After you receive your orders, things start happening quickly. By this phase of training, you are conducting yourself as a member of the armed forces. Your training is progressing through practical areas, and you are arranging for travel and graduation.

The final week of training starts with CPR and first-aid training. You also will receive detailed information about benefits.

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