What does a coastguard do?
As a coastguard you’ll work for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). You may work in the MCA as a coastguard watch assistant, coastguard watch officer or coastguard rescue officer volunteer.
You’ll usually start as a coastguard watch assistant, providing administrative support and working in operations rooms at a Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre. On a day-to-day basis you could typically:
- receive and handle emergency service calls
- monitor short and long range radios and satellite communication equipment
- provide information on safety at sea to the general public
- recommend safety procedures to skippers of small craft
- provide meteorological information and local weather reports
- update logs and complete general administration tasks
As a coastguard watch officer, you’ll be involved in all aspects of the coastguard service. You’ll monitor distress signals and supervise or assist in some search and rescue missions.As a coastguard rescue officer volunteer, you would be trained to respond to emergencies.
What do I need to do to become a coastguard?
You would usually join the coastguard service as a watch assistant. You’ll need a good standard of literacy and numeracy, and IT and keyboard skills.
To become a watch officer you would also need a good standard of literacy and numeracy, good hearing and eyesight, and extensive seagoing experience. This could be 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
To become a coastguard rescue officer volunteer you’ll need:
- to be at least 18
- have a full driving licence
- live or work within 30 minutes of the rescue station where you wish to volunteer
- Good standard of literacy and numeracy, and IT and keyboard skills.
Vocational routeAs a new coastguard, you would start by receiving training at the MCA Centre at Highcliffe, Dorset. After this, you would join a programme that combines classroom-based learning, self-study and on-the-job training.
Where to find out more
Where could I be working?
You would be employed by the MCA at locations around the coast.