Special Agents of the Coast Guard Investigative Service come from military and civilian backgrounds and investigate crimes with suspects of all backgrounds as well as witnesses. All Special Agents, while operating in the capacity of a special agent, are to wear appropriate civilian clothes and are addressed as “Special Agent” regardless of rank or status in the US Coast Guard. Special Agents, while generally operating as US military members, wear the same uniforms, follow normal rank protocols, and the like.
Internally CGIS agents may address each other based on their military ranks. Agent seniority is based on the position they fill in the agency fully: Special Agent Trainee, Special Agent, Senior Special Agent, Supervisory Special Agent, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Special Agent in Charge, and above.
Agents wishing to serve as senior special agents must have at least three years of experience within the agency, and military members must be at the grade of E6 or above. The GS position for civilians does not change for the role of Senior Agent. Agents wishing to serve as supervisory senior agent must have at least five years of experience within the agency and hold the military grade of E7 or above. Civilian employees must test and meet all the civil service position “Supervisory Criminal Investigator” requirements.
To serve as an Assistant Special Agent in charge, agents must have appropriate experience to meet the civilian equivalent GS position and hold the rank of Chief Warrant Officer or above. Agents serving above the position of Supervisory Special Agent must be a Commissioned Officer, Qualified for the Civilian GS Equivalent, or part of the Senior Executive Service as a civilian. These SES Positions include Assistant Deputy Director, Deputy Director, Assistant Director, and Director.