Frequently Asked Questions
What must my major(s) be to apply for the NOAA Commissioned Officers Corps program?
Applicants must receive a four-year degree. All majors are acceptable, however, engineering, the physical and life sciences, or mathematics are preferred. All candidates must meet minimum course requirements, regardless of the degree they hold.
What is marine debris?
Our oceans are filled with items that do not belong there. Huge amounts of consumer plastics, metals, rubber, paper, textiles, derelict fishing gear, vessels, and other lost or discarded items enter the marine environment every day, making marine debris one of the most widespread pollution problems facing the world's oceans and waterways.
Marine debris is defined as any persistent solid material that is manufactured or processed and directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally, disposed of or abandoned into the marine environment or the Great Lakes. Learn more about marine debris and find out how to prevent it.
NOAA divers from the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center diving unit have been working since 1996 to remove marine debris, specifically derelict fishing gear, from the Hawaiian Archipelago. Every year they set out on the NOAA Ship Hi'ialakai to survey vast swaths of coast line and coral habitat to collect tons of the derelict fishing gear. Read more about why this is important and what they have collected so far on the NOAA Fisheries website.
Where can I find information on a specific NOAA Ship?
Can NOAA Corps officers donate unused leave under the leave transfer program?
In 1988, Congress passed a law providing a way for federal employees to share leave. The intent is that if a federal employee - or a family member - experiences a medical emergency, and as a result misses more work days than are covered by his or her own leave, they can avoid the additional hardship of lost income by using leave hours donated by others. You can learn more about this program at the DOC Human Resources website or the NOAA Workforce Management site.
There are some exceptions to the policy. Although NOAA Corps officers are federal employees, commissioned officer leave is governed by different laws than civilian leave. NOAA Corps officer leave is therefore not included in the leave transfer program.
When and how long are the Teacher at Sea cruises?
Participants can expect to be at sea anywhere from one week to one month, with the average cruise lasting 12-14 days. Most of our participants try to sail on cruises offered during the summer vacation, but cruises take place throughout most of the year on a space-available basis.
What class is my boat?
|Small Boat Class||Definition|
|Class A||less than 16 feet length overall|
|Class I||16 to less than 26 feet length overall|
|Class II||26 to less than 40 feet length overall|
|Class III||40 to less than 65 feet length overall|
|Small Research Vessel (SRV)||greater than 65 feet length overall but less than 300 gross tons|
Why aren't NOAA's Hurricane Hunter planes torn apart in storm?
Planes are generally not destroyed by strong winds while in flight. Airliners routinely fly in jet streams with winds exceeding 150 mph over the U.S. during the winter. It's the shear, or sudden change in horizontal or vertical winds, that can destroy an aircraft, or cause its loss of control. That's why NOAA's Hurricane Hunter aircraft don't fly through tornadoes. In a like manner, NOAA pilots and crew routinely (but never casually) fly in the high-wind environment of the hurricane and don't fear it tearing the plane apart. However, they are always monitoring for "hot spots" of severe weather and shear that they can often identify on radar and avoid if it's too severe.
What does it mean to be a NOAA Corps Officer?
The NOAA Corps, the Nation’s seventh uniformed service, incorporates many aspects of a commissioned officer's career with scientific mission of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This service seeks officers for an initial two year sea assignment. Basic Officer Training Classes (BOTC) are held in February and August.
One of the principle objectives of the NOAA Corps training program is to develop maritime and nautical skills, with emphasis on shipboard operations. Following each Basic Officer Training Program, our newly trained officers begin their trek to Woods Hole, Charleston, Norfolk, Pascagoula, Seattle, and Honolulu to meet and join what they will call home for the next two years, a NOAA ship. Upon reporting, I expect each officer to work hard, but I want him or her to have some fun too. As much as they’d like their training to be over, it’s really just beginning. Upon reporting aboard their ships they will be assigned watchstanding responsibilities and tasked with various collateral duties. They will be required to learn the in’s and out’s of the ship in addition to learning how to safely deploy and recover fishing gear, underwater cameras, oceanographic sampling instrumentation, and sonar devices, to name just a few. There is also a great deal to learn about the programs that our ships sup port. Yes, training will continue.
The flexibility and mobility of the NOAA Corps provides NOAA an indispensable tool. The officer will find themselves assigned throughout the Agency, in all line offices. I believe NOAA Corps officers have the best job in all of NOAA. They may work on fisheries’ issues in one assignment, satellite operations in another, and an administrative position in yet another, and still definitely have the opportunity to go to sea or fly in between these assignments. All the time they remain a NOAA Corps Officer. Initially each officer will be told what to do, but quickly they will exercise their leadership skills and it will be incumbent upon them to lead and manage. We will be counting on them.
Being a NOAA Corps officer is a privilege and an honor. Newly commissioned officers have wound their way through a very competitive recruiting process and completed a rigorous training program. As NOAA Corps officers, they will be a critical part of the web of science and management within NOAA. They have developed the discipline to succeed, and they have the esprit de corps that build strong teams.
Thank you again for visiting our site. I wish you fair winds and following seas and look forward to seeing you in the NOAA fleet.
— Rear Admiral Evelyn J. Fields, NOAA (Ret)
What are the educational requirements to apply for NOAA Corps?
Applicants must hold a baccalaureate degree awarded from a postsecondary institution accredited by the U. S. Department of Education. Accreditation can be verified at the Department of Education website. Preferably the applicant's major is in a course of study related to NOAA's scientific or technical activities.
All applicants, regardless of degree(s) awarded, must have completed at least 48 semester (72 quarter) hours in science, math or engineering course work pertaining to NOAA's missions.
For more information click on eligibility requirements
What do I need to do with my boat for winterization & storage?
This article at BoatUS.com has comprehensive information on "Winterizing Your Engine".