Coastguards help prevent the loss of life at sea by supporting search and rescue operations
Salary range: £17,000 to £32,000
How to become a coastguard
You can get into this job through:
- working towards this role
- applying directly
You may be able to work your way into this role by starting as a watch assistant and applying for promotion when you’ve got more experience.
You’ll need literacy, numeracy and IT skills, as well as seagoing experience.
Volunteering and experience
You could start by becoming a coastguard rescue officer volunteer, then apply for a paid position when vacancies are advertised.
You can apply directly to employers if you have some of the relevant skills and knowledge needed for this role.
You’ll need a good standard of literacy and numeracy, good hearing and eyesight to become a watch officer.
Employers will often ask for seagoing experience. You can get this from:
- the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force or the Merchant Navy
- other activities involving boat work and navigation
- experience as a coastguard rescue officer volunteer
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- knowledge of public safety and security
- customer service skills
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- sensitivity and understanding
- the ability to work well with others
- physical fitness and endurance
- to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
Restrictions and requirements
You’ll need to:
- be over 18 years of age
- pass a medical check
- pass a fitness test
- have a full driving licence
You’ll need to live within 30 minutes of the coastguard rescue location.
You must be prepared to work anywhere in the UK.
What you’ll do
Your day-today duties may include:
- handling emergency distress calls
- monitoring radio and satellite communications
- giving information on safety at sea
- recommending safety procedures to skippers of small craft
- giving weather reports
- co-ordinating operations
- supervising or assisting in search and rescue operations
You could work in an office or at sea.
Your working environment may be outdoors in all weathers.
You may need to wear a uniform.
Career path and progression
With experience, you could be promoted from coastguard watch assistant to watch officer, then to watch manager or section manager.