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E-6 insignia
Good conduct
variation,

E-6 insignia
Petty Officer
Second Class
insignia
&
U.S. Coast Guard

Petty Officer Second Class is the fifth enlisted rank in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard, just above Petty Officer Third Class and below Petty Officer First Class, and is a non-commissioned officer.

Similar to Petty Officer Third Class, advancement to Petty Officer Second Class is dependent on time in service, performance evaluations by superiors, and rate (technical specialty) examinations. The advancement cycle is currently every 6 months. Only a certain number of billets (job openings for this rank) open up biannually and all petty officers third class compete. The top scorers are chosen for advancement, but only in sufficient quantities to fill the billets available.

Petty Officers serve a dual role as both technical experts and as leaders. Unlike the sailors below them, there is no such thing as an "undesignated Petty Officer." Every petty officer has both a rate (rank) and rating (job, similar to an MOS in other branches). A petty officer's full title is a combination of the two. Thus, a Petty Officer Second Class, who has the rating of Interior Communications Electrician would properly be called an Interior Communications Electrician Second Class. The term petty officer is, then, only used in abstract, the general sense, when referring to a group of petty officers of different ratings, or when the petty officer's rating is unknown. Often, the petty officer is just referred to by the short hand designation, without using the surname. Thus EM2 Reyes would just be called EM2. A Second Class Petty Officer may be generically referred to as PO2 when the sailor's rating is not known, although some prefer to be called simply "Petty Officer (Martinez)."

Each rating has an official abbreviation, such as GM for Gunner's Mate, BU for Builder, or BM for Boatswain's Mate. When combined with the petty officer level, this gives the short-hand for the petty officer's rank, such as IT2 for Information Systems Technician Second Class. It is common practice to refer to the petty officer by this short hand in all but the most formal correspondence (such as printing and inscription on awards)

Currently, in order for a PO2 to be promoted to PO1, the candidate must test out and pass a board of his peers to earn one of three enlisted warfare badges, <Enlisted Surface Warfare>, <Enlisted Air Warfare> or <Enlisted Subsurface Warfare>. These three badges can be undertaken by all enlisted persons depending on their billets at that time. Moreover, there are many NCO's that are authorized to wear three badges, but may only wear two due to uniform constrictions.

The rating insignia for a Petty Officer Second Class is a perched eagle above two chevrons. On more formal uniforms the symbol for the petty officer's rating will be placed between the eagle and the chevrons. On white uniforms, the eagle, rating, and chevrons will be dark blue (effectively black) thus leading to the eagle, and by extension the entire badge, being most commonly referred to as a "crow." On navy blue, the eagle and rating are white, and the chevrons are red. Working uniforms and metal rank devices have the rating symbol omitted.

Among enlisted sailors, 12 consecutive years of good conduct (categorized as no convictions by Non-Judicial Punishment or Courts-Martial) entitles the sailor to wear a good conduct variation of their rank insignia: The normally red chevrons under the specialty mark and perched eagle are worn as gold and the eagle is worn as silver. However, the High Year Tenure initiative mandates that a Petty Officer Second Class may only have 14 years of service. If a PO2 fails to make Petty Officer First Class within that time, the Petty Officer is involuntarily separated for not meeting advancement requirements. However, this may be waived in the event the sailor holds critical training, NEC's or clearances.

All U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officers wear red chevrons and red service stripes, until the rank of Chief Petty Officers, where both chevrons and service stripes are gold.

See also

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