Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service

Engineer Professional Advisory Committee

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 students. The JRCOSTEP program is a temporary Federal job lasting anywhere from 1 month to 4 months with no future service obligation. Application to the JRCOSTEP program is typically restricted to two-month open window periods. 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 inspection. 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 receive some reimbursement for relocation expenses to their worksite. Pay is adjusted with dependency status, local housing costs and duration of prior military service and JRCOSTEPs receive the same health care and leave benefits as the military, and have access to military base facilities. While the PHS is a uniform service, JRCOSTEP engineers are not typically expected to purchase and wear the uniform. 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 that the student have completed a minimum 2 years of study by their start date.

Engineer Professional Advisory Committee Connectors Program

The EPAC Connector Program was established in 2015, following the Engineer Placement and Advisory Program, as an initiative within the Recruitment and Retention subcommittee to assist potential Commission Corps (CC) Candidates through the appointment process. EPAC Connectors are current Commissioned Corps engineer officers who volunteer to work directly with Candidates. They answer general appointment questions, provide insight into engineering within the Commissioned Corps and advise candidates with job searches. Connectors defer to the Division of Commissioned Corps Personnel and Readiness on specific questions related to medical eligibility, security clearance, or applications status. Connectors provide informal mentorship to potential Candidates as they navigate through the appointment process. The EPAC Connector Program also tracks candidate application milestones to determine obstacles and help improve the Commissioned Corps appointment process. While candidates are not obligated to participate in the Connectors program, the information gathered allows EPAC to better assist you and other engineers to be appointed into Commissioned Corps of the USPHS.

Please contact the EPAC Recruitment and Retention subcommittee at with any questions.

Opportunities and Support for Engineer Officers

EPAC Welcome Package

New Officer Guide

Career Development Resources

The Engineer Professional Advisory Committee


The Commissioned Officers Association

The Society of American Military Engineers

Association of Military Surgeons of the United States

The Military Officers Association of America

National Society of Professional Engineers

Page Last Modified on 3/21/2017

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