Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service

Engineer Professional Advisory Committee

Engineering Graduates Seeking Full-Time Employment

Qualified engineers can currently apply to the Commissioned Corps at any time throughout the year. Please visit for current application schedules and information about applying to the Corps. Former participants in the Commissioned Officer Student Training and Extern Program (COSTEP) are also eligible to apply at any time as long as they meet the qualifying criteria.

To be called to active duty into the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service, the applicant must gain employment within an HHS or partnering non-HHS agency. Applicants frequently opt to accept positions within HHS or partnering non-HHS agencies as a Civil Service employee and then convert to the Commissioned Corps. This approach allows candidates to begin their professional careers while completing the USPHS onboarding process. A partial list of current engineer vacancies eligible for Commissioned Corps appointment can be found here: PHS Engineer Vacancy List. Additional vacancies can be found on the USAJOBS website as well as the respective  agencies websites.

Commissioned Officer Student Training and Extern Program (COSTEP)

The U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps Junior Commissioned Officer Student Training and Extern Program (JRCOSTEP) is a program for college students. The JRCOSTEP program is a temporary Federal job lasting anywhere from 1 month to 4 months with no future service obligation. Applications to the JRCOSTEP program are currently limited to an open window period from June 1st – September 30th each year. Please visit for the most up to date information regarding application schedules.

JRCOSTEP externships vary depending on your interests, the agency, and location, but each job provides valuable career experience. While many agencies are eligible to employ JRCOSTEPs, the Indian Health Service Division of Sanitation Facilities Construction (DSFC) hires the majority. The IHS DSFC constructs water and sewer infrastructure on Indian reservations and provides operation and maintenance training to operators. JRCOSTEPs are placed with experienced engineers and frequently conduct design work, water sampling, equipment testing, and construction inspections. The work with IHS is often outdoors in remote and rural environments.

Students receive the basic pay and allowances of an Ensign Officer (pay grade O-1) and will receive some reimbursement for relocation expenses to their worksite. Pay is adjusted depending on dependency status, local housing costs, and duration of prior military service. JRCOSTEPs receive the same health care and leave benefits as the military and have access to military base facilities. While JRCOSTEPs are responsible for finding and paying for housing, local supervisors can often help students find affordable temporary housing.

The JRCOSTEP program requires that students be US citizens and enrolled in an ABET accredited professional engineering program (engineering technology is not applicable). The JRCOSTEP program requires the student to have completed a minimum 2 years of study by their start date.

COSTEP Resources

Page Last Modified on 3/13/2022

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